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Monday, May 23, 2016

Atrium Carceri - Archives I-II

Artist: Atrium Carceri
Album: Archives I-II
Year: 2016
Label: Cryo Chamber
Genre: Dark Ambient
Website:  cryochamber.bandcamp.com















Basics:
Atrium Carceri has released a 2 disc set of archive material dating from 2005-2015; this set consists of material originally written for b-sides, forgotten songs, etc that has been re-worked, re-mastered, and compiled into two long pieces; the first being 43 minutes in length and the second being around 40 minutes.

Stuff:
At this point I feel like it's pointless to review new Atrium Carceri material. It doesn't need it; everything he releases is incredible, never fails to make it on my top 10 of the year list, and should be owned by everyone who reads this blog. You'd be hard pressed to find a more consistently excellent musician out there. It's unbelievable to me that I can own SO MANY albums by one guy and each of them is brilliant.

Anyhow, this is an interesting, if unexpected, release - for whatever reason AC's mastermind Simon Heath has decided to revisit his archives and rework some old material that never saw release. It's presented in 2 longform tracks, although during each there appear to be "breaks" which, at least to me, feel like spots that could have been used to divide this into separate tracks, but whatever. While I love everything AC has released, the first 3 albums are still my favorite. That said, I was excited to hear this material dates back to 2005 (not quite the beginning, but back to Kapnobatai at least). Everything you've loved about AC over the years is here - the trademark bass, sfx, and industrial sounds of the early years; the emotive, forlorn piano melodies; the deep, rumbling chthonic atmospheres of the inner sanctums of the earth; the calm droning soundscapes of the newer material; and the interesting & varied composition he has always been known for. He fuses all of these elements into material that is a perfectly cohesive blend of all of his past styles, while still managing to make it sound like a fresh, brand new album. Of course it's got very polished, modern production so it doesn't have quite the same feel as the old material, but the sentiments are certainly there. Definitely a great and fulfilling release for people like me who have enjoyed the characteristics of each of his albums over the years. In many instances, these "archive" releases result in a bunch of old b-sides which are only interesting for novelty purposes, but aren't particularly good songs you'd listen to often. This is absolutely not the case here and AC has re-assembled his archive material in a way that renders it fully listenable and relevant. You could hand this disc to any fan of dark ambient without them knowing what it was and they'd be like "yeah this is some great contemporary sounding stuff" and not "oh this sounds old/dated/b-side-y/etc".

Overall: 
Even though this release was created from b-sides and unused tracks, the final result is definitely as good as any of his traditional albums. It's very pleasing to see an artist put out something like this and put this much effort into it. If you're a fan of any of Atrium Carceri's work than you will highly enjoy this release as well. With every new release he further solidifies why he is one of the most relevant artists in the history of (dark) ambient music and why he is in the (at least my personal) top 3 dark ambient acts of all time. Definitely a must own for fans of the genre. If you're still new to AC than this would be a solid place to start and get a a glimpse at all the different places he has taken listeners to over the years.

1 comment:

Michael Barnett said...

I couldn't agree more! Exceptional album.