A heady brew of serious-faced ambient electronica and choral gloom, Swedish producer / vocalist Irma Orm a.k.a. Demen pours her soul into a fitfully engaging debut, Nektyr. Fans of both Clams Casino and My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult will find much to admire on this epic mix of huge, echoing drums, shivering synth and Eastern-rite vocals. While occasionally monotone in its delivery, there's undeniably something in the way the producer slashes across chasms of roomy echo with the regular cuts of caterwauling high tones. Just don’t go into it expecting much in the way of light and shade. This is a deep, dark tunnel of a record.

Demen was signed by Kranky Records on the back of a few shy emails, and has taken years to craft this first, full collection of hymn-like ambience. Dour doesn’t really cover it. This is music for insomniacs who like to wander around mirror lakes in the witching hour dressed entirely in black and contemplating the infinite. It’s heavy, man.

Having said that, 'Morgon' sounds remarkably like a rejuvenated Kate Bush vocally riffing over Flying Saucer Attack and lifts the collective slouch that characterises many of the tracks into something approaching a high tempo. Thick lashings of delay and reverb are coated over every instrument; in the same way that a Frank Auerbach portrait distorts and bug-eyes the human image out of the everyday form, Demen builds upon the recognisable features of musical cartography to coagulate standard forms into a swampy morass. The welcome upturn doesn't stick around for long, and we're quickly back wading through swamps of cloying matter on 'Ambur'.

If all this sounds a little bit hard going, it is. Every chord on the record seems to come with a questioning harmony tacked on to make it clear that this is meant to be otherworldly, mysterious communication. The drum sound barely shifts, which would be fine if the patterns weren't also droning along. Occasionally we get a moment of respite as field recordings break up the gloop, but it is only occasionally. Demen wants us to feel trapped, isolated, overborn.

Nektyr is a tough record to like. Fans of Cocteau Twins may be better placed than I to pierce the veil and properly appreciate the wonders within. For me, trying to pull away the mud and heavily-baked conceit left me exhausted.