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Sven Laux * Dead Melodies




Last year’s Paper Streets on the Dronarivm label was probably the first encounter with the music of Sven Laux for many listeners (myself included). But Laux has created music since 2003, and his discography extends to no less than nine albums, more than 25 singles & EP’s, and numerous appearances on compilations. So there’s a back catalogue to check out!
But before going back in time it’s best to stay in the present with this new album Schachmatt (‘checkmate’) on Whitelabrecs, Harry Towell’s limited editions label. (‘Limited’ meaning: the physical edition has already sold out by now). Here, Sven Laux further explores his ambient paths, with lush orchestral pad arrangements and a widescreen production.

Each track bears the name of a different chess player (Fisher, Spasski, Karpow, etc.): the inspiration for this album came from watching a movie about chess (it remains unknown which movie exactly), where each player had a different strategy. This is reflected in the tracks, “each one playing out along a different path, each with its own characteristics or game plan, if you will”.
This does nót mean that the tracks are completely different. On the contrary – they are a perfect match together.
After all, even when high-level chess players have a completely different strategy and follow a different path, in the end they all play within the set of rules of the game called Chess.
The same is true for Laux’ music on Schachmatt.



Exactly one year after Legends Of The Wood, Dead Melodies release their second album for the Cryo Chamber label. Or maybe ‘his’, since it’s only one person: Tom Moore from the UK. And it’s the second release for Cryo Chamber, but the fourth full length release (in two years).
From Cryo Chamber we’ve come to expect the darkest of the dark ambient, always with a widely cinematic production.  The Foundations of Ruin opens with a somewhat classical piano piece, but in the second track the music and atmosphere takes a spooky turn. After all, the narrative of this album is that “we are exploring the ghostly ruins of a once stately manor”.

“Something definitely feels wrong here, but with hours till dawn and the relentless storm wailing through the surrounding trees, the will to survive the night defeats all reason to fear this shady forgotten sanctuary.”

With its ghostly piano hidden in thick layers of fog, this music is as chilling as a captivating ghost story or a frightening game soundtrack. You do not need much imagination to almost notice the temperature drop a few degrees and to “feel a familiar chill running down your spine.”

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Dronny Darko * Phonothek * Dead Melodies




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  (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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