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Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Atrium Carceri - "The Old City OST"

Artist: Atrium Carceri
Album: The Old City (OST)
Year: 2015
Label: Cryo Chamber
Genre: Dark Ambient
Website:  cryochamber.bandcamp.com

2015 brings us a new Atrium Carceri album and what appears to be his first foray into creating an official soundtrack. The Old City is the soundtrack to the video game The Old City - Leviathan. Beyond the description saying that it's an experimental first person exploration game, I don't know anything else about it so I can't speak on that front; but it must be one hell of a game if this is the audio accompaniment.

I knew this album would be fantastic from the opening moments; the introductory track, conveniently titled "Intro / Menu", is absolutely beautiful; the juxtaposition of soft, melodic piano and deep drones coupled with the accompanying lush female vocals is exceptional. Much of the album gives off a contemplative, subterranean vibe which is not surprising with titles like "Leviathan", "Underground", "Old Tunnels", "Endless Halls", and so forth. Despite being created for a game, the OST works equally well as an album you can actively listen to and rivals any other Atrium album in depth and scope. One thing I noticed is that these songs are more minimal with a cleaner sound than his prior works (the industrial influence from the early material is all but gone), and is actually most similar to his recent Sabled Sun album 2147.  Many tracks, such as "Leviathan" and "Worship", utilize underworldly drones mixed with unsettling, manipulated choirs, creepy Resident Evil-ish pads, and subtle sound effects or bits of percussion (typically a low, hypnotic kick drum). Other tracks, like "Childhood I" and "Childhood II", focus more on haunting, ancient melodies which evoke a dark, forbidden nostalgia - definitely like something you would hear in Silent Hill or your surrealist survival horror of choice. Most of the tracks have a pretty "Atrium Carceri"-ish feel to them, although I definitely feel that he explores new territory here and there are many moments that I would not equate with "typical AC work". This is a great album if you want something minimal to put on in the background that will conjure up the creepy vibes of unused sewers and corridors beneath a sleeping city, or if you have played out your Akira Yamaoka records and want something with a similar feel.

While more minimal and certainly less harsh / industrial-influenced than previous work, The Lost City OST is no doubt a well-crafted album, full of dark, evocative passages; hauntingly nostalgic melodies; and ancient, esoteric soundscapes. Will definitely please fans of Cryo Chamber material; especially those looking for more subtle ambient.

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