Cryo Chamber Collaborations Round Up (Late Summer 2017)
One of the interesting things about getting into different styles of music than what you’re normally used to is adjusting to the different opportunities afforded by them. Collaborative albums exist in Rock and Metal, but by the very nature of those styles tend to fall into the “Dave Necrobastard singing with Cryptic Gardener” format. Electronic music, by contrast, lends itself more readily to genuine collaboration, with one or more artists able to lend their own sounds and production to a track, creating something both new and familiar. Cryo Chamber Records, leaders in the Dark Ambient field, have been experimenting with themed collaborations for several years now, and in the Summer of 2017 have brought three such albums of a particularly high quality.
ProtoU & Hilyard – Alpine Respire
ProtoU is no stranger to this kind of collaboration, Sasha Cats’ meditative, dream-like synths and drones making an effective foil for many different Dark Ambient styles, and here she combines with the glacial field recordings of Cryo Chamber first-timers Hilyard to create a freezing, monolithic block of Arctic Ambient. The six tracks here are slightly longer than the CC average, giving them time to develop their frigid soundscapes without overstaying their welcome, and each one manages to stand out from its neighbours while dragging the listener to a very similar place. For music that is frequently dismissed as “background”, this is a demanding listen, often unrelenting in its singularity of vision while still including a meditative, almost spiritual tone.[7.0]
Alphaxone & Dronny Darko – Forsaken
Two of the biggest names on Cryo Chamber’s roster come next, offering a quirkier, more dynamic alternative to Alpine Respire’s freezing walls of sound. Both artists are renowned for their distinctive, peculiar approach to Dark Ambient and Forsaken is one of the most wilfully surreal and alien-sounding albums I’ve heard in this genre for a while. Reminiscent at times of another excellent collaboration, Troum & Yen Pox’s Mnemonic Induction, but with shorter tracks allowing for a more dynamic and shifting approach, Forsaken’s use of drones, sinister keys and unearthly sounds (the alien choirs on Outlying being a strong example) creates a dreamlike and disorientating experience. [8.0]
Atrium Carceri & Cities Last Broadcast – Black Corner Den
The ultimate proof that these collaboration albums are more than just one-note gimmicks, Black Corner Den – a collaboration between Cryo Chamber label boss Simon Heath and highly prolific genre veteran Pär Boström – is likely to be one of the most highly regarded Dark Ambient releases of the year, on any label. Assaying a smokey, Victorian aesthetic, Black Corner Den often leans more audibly towards Atrium Carceri’s eclectic horror style, but CLB’s sinuous, organic urban sounds provide a very particular character to tracks like ‘An Atrementous City’. Probably one of the quirkiest and most distinctive albums the Dark Ambient genre will see all year, Black Corner Den requires repeated listens to really open up, but is very much worth the effort. [8.0]