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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Atrium Carceri - "The Untold"

Artist: Atrium Carceri
Album: The Untold
Year: 2013
Label: Cryo Chamber
Genre: Dark Ambient
Website: cryochamber.bandcamp.com

Here we have the new Atrium Carceri album, following up last years phenomenal Void (as well as Reliquiae on Cold Meat Industry and a split with Eldar on Cryo Chamber). This album is available as a digital download from his own Cyro Chamber label, and a physical CD from Tesco. The digital version also comes with a 16 page PDF of art and an accompanying short story which I found to be excellent bonus material and applaud his effort at expanding the digital medium. The story is super weird and kind of disjointed, but interesting, a bit unsettling, and enjoyable to read. I didn't feel like the music fit with the story all that much, however after reading over the way I described the album below there are certainly some notable synchrocities. This is also one of the longest AC albums, coming in at 72 minutes with several tracks that are 9 minutes or longer.

I am hesitant to describe this as "standard faire" for the artist, as that would demean the great skill involved in crafting this work; however, the sound on this album is more or less what we have come to expect from its creator. It would seem to be a natural continuation of the style he has been doing on the last few solo releases. The first half of the album is predominantly chasmic droning soundscapes with a notable industrial influence. I really appreciate AC's attention to detail and use of a plethora of interesting sfx which he continues on The Untold. Most of these songs will transport you to subterranean caves, ruined buildings, ancient otherworldly mausoleums, etc. It also feels extremely isolationist, in that it makes me feel as if I am walking through the ruins of an strange and somewhat unfamiliar world where everything that existed there has long since died or departed. Pretty standard dark ambient destinations I suppose, but, as I mentioned, these songs were built by an expert in the field who can powerfully evoke those types of moods. I was a bit disappointed by the lack of melody and "musical" elements to connect to, however this was somewhat rectified in the second half of the album. Tracks like "Comfort of the Night Mother", and "The Untold" bring back the trademark haunting Atrium piano and tracks like "The Traitor" employ melodic pads to bolster their melancholic, chthonic atmospheres. "The Traitor" especially makes me feel like I'm in an industrial workshop deep within the earth. The sweeping pads and subtle organic fx of "Great Old One" makes me feel as if I am staring at a colossal, terrifying totem of a nameless ancient god surrounded by the vast emptiness of time and weather ravaged plains. The final track "Ego Death" feels pointless, as it's just 12 minutes of a super low drone and seemingly nothing else. I assume there is some meaning behind this, but regardless I never bother with that track. As per usual, the mixing and mastering is top notch and really helps to bring out all the subtleties of his programming. One thing that I should stress is that this is very subtle music. It requires full immersion and attention to get into and understand it. While it works as background music or whatever, it's absolutely made for intimate listening (headphones) and a dark room with no distractions.

In addition to being good dark ambient, this music is extremely cinematic and strongly carries the feeling of a video game soundtrack. Why this man has not been employed by a game studio is beyond me.

The standard yearly great album from Atrium Carceri. Not terribly different from previous material (other than being less melodic) nor groundbreaking; simply brilliantly crafted deep, dark ambient. As always, a must own for fans of the genre.

Rating: 8.5-9/10

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The developer of a video game named Rust has already used a snippet of Atrium Carceri for his video game, and it is a possibility that Atrium Carceri could be doing a full soundtrack for the video game. Rust is a game of survival based in a post apocalyptic sandbox style world. The addition of Atrium Carceri to this game would be massive for both parties in my opinion and would hit the mood they are trying to evoke dead on. I wish I had some links to cite what I just said, but I know it was from an interview with the creator of Rust several months back.