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Cryo Chamber Collective * Noone * The Null Spectre

Noone - Crocodile

Yog-Sothoth

CRYO CHAMBER COLLECTIVE – YOG-SOTHOTH

Dark Ambient is a genre tag with a bit of a bad reputation – a bit like New Age’s opposite twin brother. Too much church-bells and singing monks in easy arrangements have given the genre a bad name (as did too many dolphin sounds for New Age). But: don’t throw the baby out with the bath water! There’s a lot of interesting ‘dark ambient’ too – if only you know where to find it.

The Cryo Chamber label is a good place to start delving: the Oregon based label is specialised in the genre and offers many quality releases: “We portray distant worlds, dusty cathedrals, damp forests. We field record in ghost towns, abandoned subway tunnels and on dwindling mountain paths.”

It’s no surprise that this music of darkness is deeply connected with the work of H.P. Lovecraft, american writer of horror fiction whose work laid the foundation of the Cthulthu Mythos often referred to in all things dark and scary.

Yog-Sothoth (also known as “The Lurker at the Threshold, The Key and the Gate, The Beyond One, Opener of the Way, The All-in-One, The One-in-All”) is a cosmic entity from the Cthulthy Mythos: an omniscient god, locked outside the universe, meaning he knows and can see all of space-time all at once, that there is no secret hidden from Yog-Sothoth.”

Not an entity to speak lightly of, so for this release almost the entire cast of Cryo Chamber artist are summoned for a two-hour collaboration tribute to the work of H.P. Lovecraft.
The double CD is not a compilation album, but consists of two continuous mixes involving contributions by acts like ProtoU, Alphaxone, Kammerheit, Atrium Carceri, Randall Collier-Ford, Dronny Darko, God Body Disconnect, Northumbria (and many more).

This two-hour set of dark cinematic soundscapes is the fourth in the Lovecraft Discography series, preceded by Cthulthu (2014), Azathoth (2015) and Nyarlathotep (2016).


Noone - Crocodile

NOONE – HOW DOTH THE LITTLE CROCODILE IMPROVE HIS SHINING TAIL

Noone knows who Noone is, because it’s just the music that’s important. No distraction by non-musical trivialities. It’s not very hard to find out who it is if you do a little search, but I won’t disclose this unknown identity who has until now self-released 10 digital (‘practically identical’) albums. Most are simply titled with a number, with the occasional exception to that rule. So this new release (the first physical release on the Midira Records label) is not entirely without context.

The somewhat odd title is taken from a Lewis Carroll poem (in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland):

How doth the little crocodile
Improve his shining tail
And pour the waters of the Nile
On every golden scale
How cheerfully he seems to grin
How neatly spreads his claws
And welcomes little fishes in
With gently smiling jaws!

You can take that as a warning: don’t let the gentle smile and cheerful grin lure you into the claws of the crocodile! Not every drone is a soothing sound.

How Doth The Little Crocodileis an hour-long soundscape that can be frightening at times, somewhat psychedelic even. The cinematic drones are filled with sound effects (like loud echoed slaps), strange noises and toy sounds. Culminating into a strange animal-like sound in the end, it feels as if you have descended into some underworld you shouldn’t want to enter. Or like the poor little fish that finds himself in the jaws of a gently smiling crocodile.

An ‘instrumental audio drama, a soundtrack for your imagination’ .


Wendigo

THE NULL SPECTRE – WENDIGO

Speaking about ‘dark’: The Null Spectre is an ambient artist (personal details unknown) from Seattle, Washington, who aims to create “soundscapes that will haunt your nightmares…”.
The Bandcamp collection presents eight (self-released) albums with promising titles such as The Darkling, Lord of Shadows and Fears of Men… so you know what to expect: bleak soundtracks of darkness and superstition.

Wendigo is also created as a soundtrack for a fictitious movie full of suspense and horror. The liner notes even suggest a plot synopsis, but I think it’s better to leave the story to the imagination of the listener. In a different context, the music may also turn out to be less dark and ominous than intended.

The short (25 minute) 4-track album is available as a Name Your Price download.

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Dronny Darko * Phonothek * Dead Melodies

Abduction

Abduction

DRONNY DARKO – ABDUCTION  Also on Spotify

If you like your soundscapes dark and haunting, full of suspense, Dronny Darko (from Kiev, Ukraine) will definitely fulfill your needs (as will most of the releases on the Cryo Chamber label).

Abduction is described as “merging the lowercase and minimal genre with a strong science fiction element.”
“Lowercase music”, Darko
 explaines, is a minimalistic sound art that “amplifies acoustic objects and paints collages with them. Those are sounds that we almost cannot hear with a naked ear. Something like the hum of the domestic sound system, ants rumbling, plants growing,  etc.”.

The result of this process can hardly be called ‘minimal’: it’s an overwhelming and irresistible plunge into the deep unknown, where “throbbing bass layers croak and groan under the pressure of whirling machines that buzz and hum.”


Phonothek - Red Moon

PHONOTHEK – RED MOON   Also on Spotify

Phonothek‘s second album for Cryo Chamber (the follow-up of last year’s Lost in Fogcontinues “the theme of the inevitable death of our planet”.
So here’s the image to keep in mind when you listen to the track Last Melody:

“A sad lonely trumpet echoes between ruined apartment complexes. The ground is dry and dusty, nothing grows here. Where once laughter of children lingered, now only the creak of broken swings remain. The earth is dying. The chosen got on the ships, but not you.” 

The Georgian duo (George Shamanauri and his wife Nina) mixes many genres without losing the desolate atmosphere: there’s dark ambient (obviously), but also David Lynch-like dark ambient-jazz – with a leading role for  the trumpet.
The latter  will not surprise you knowing George was (is) the principal trumpet in the Tbilisi State Opera Orchestra, the Tbilisi Symphony Orchestra and the Georgian Philharmonic, as well as a participating member in many other ensembles. Nina also studied at the Tbilisi State Conservatory, and continues to work in different projects.

For their work with Phonothek they developed a clear conceptual sound, one that isn’t usually taught at conservatories (though conservatories in Georgia might be different, I don’t know about that).
Their soundscapes are one of the most adventurous examples of ‘dark ambient’ soundscapes you will be able to find.
“It brings the sound of the old world to life as it shines light on the new and dying one.”


Dead Melodies

DEAD MELODIES – LEGENDS OF THE WOOD   Also on Spotify

Dead Melodies  (Tom Moore, UK)  come from the same stable: it’s his first album for Cryo ChamberBut it’s not a ‘debut’: over eight years Moore has released ten albums, EP’s and a large amount of collaborations making anything from dub to folk to ambient”.

With its lush field recordings and reverbed guitar, the musical approach is somewhat different – possibly taking its inspiration from English (foggy) landscapes. At least, in the beginning of this album.
There’s a ominous undercurrent in the music, and the eeriness soon takes over. Titles that tell tales of Crows and Blood, Devil’s Hill, the Hooded Nine and a Malevolent Rising will probably already have told you to stay on guard.

“The damp morning dew forms translucent drops on the knee-high grass. Whatever was out there last night seems gone but the birds are not yet singing and the animals still hiding.”
How’s that for  creating an atmosphere?

But rest assured (spoiler alert!): the last track is titled  Beautiful Coalescence. So no need to worry too much.

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