Dead Melodies * Dave Phillips

Dead Melodies


The Cryo Chamber label is mainly known for its dark ambient. Otherworldly atmosphere, often related to outer space and/or fantasy settings. And mostly cold and haunting in a pleasant way.

The cover of Fabled Machines Of Old promises us the nostalgia of War Of The Worlds, a setting that fits the label.
As do the liner notes:
“The second age of the machines had taken its toll, fracturing once great empires to but a tribal fight for dominion and a race to find the firestone, for the prophecy was said to say that he who yieldeth the stone, ruleth the land and to him the machines shall answer.”

For those familiar with the label and its music, it may come as some surprise that Tom “Dead Melodies” Moore introduces the acoustic guitar as a leading instrument here. The soundscapes underneath the (effectively simple) folky guitar themes, however, are still as black as the night.

The combination of guitar with the dark ambient introduces a vague sense of nostalgia – a longing for a world one has not known and perhaps should not long for – after all, these fabled machines of old do not look particularly friendly.

Tom Moore produced and performed on most of the (twelve) tracks, but is accompanied by labelmates Atrium Carceri and Northumbria on three of them.

To Death


There is dark, there is DARK, and there is PITCH BLACK. Compared to the sound of Dead Melodies mentioned above, To Death is pitch black, the darkest of dark imaginable.

Maybe I should’ve been warned because the CD is released by a label called Misanthropic Agenda (what’s in a name). But, reading Dave Philipsliner notes, I expected something more ‘at peace’ with the inevitable:
“This album is dedicated to death. I don’t mean death the spectre that installs horror and fear in many (in the western world), (…) but death as part of a cycle, like birth. Death the only certainty in life. Dying, like living, as something that can be done well – or not. Death also something that can be a release, a relief, a liberation, the end of suffering, a freedom.”

The illness (and death) of his father, for whom he cared for the 15 last months of his life, inspired Philips to record this music. If the music represents these lasts months, it must’ve been a hard time for all. Knowing this background, listening to this album feels uncomfortably voyeuristic.

Had I known more about the background of Dave Philips I would probably have been less surprised. As “a purveyor of radical sound” he has been active since the mid-’80s. He has appeared on over 250 releases, was one of the founders of the (now cult) group Fear Of God. Keywords on his site are “ritual protest music, sonic activism, humanimalism, psycho-acoustics” – you get the picture.

I hope that his father died in relative peace and without too much suffering. But judging by the sound on this album, I’m more afraid it was a painful struggle.
I’m afraid this music definitely won’t help you overcome your fear of death if you have any. If you’re looking for a soundtrack to your worst nightmare: look no further.


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