Gazing Too Long Into The Abyss: An Onset of Darkness
In the northern hemisphere, November is rapidly completing its task of scraping away autumn’s colorful displays and ushering in the monochrome of winter: desiccating the remaining leaves on trees, chilling and drying the air, and eliminating daylight after 5PM. Halloween is unfortunately over, but the holidays (guh) have not yet begun. Now is the perfect time of year to numb your mind to the coming wintry darkness with the foreboding sounds of these four ambient/noise selections, all conveniently located on Sweden’s Cryo Chamber label.
2146 by Sabled Sun is firmly rooted in the sound and atmosphere of heady science fiction. A concept album sequel to 2145, this release comes pre-loaded with a story that “…takes us to the second year after our protagonist awakens from deep hibernation sleep to a world in ruins. Seeking signs of life, he encounters illuminated cities still powered by automated energy and its robotic inhabitants moving with pointless tasks void of meaning.”
Pulsing echoes, morose melody and the sounds of cycling, buzzing technology give tracks like Scanning for Life Forms and Graveyard of Broken Machines a familiar visual and conceptual base upon which the listener can articulate their own character traits amidst fighting to keep up hope in an obliterated landscape, or accepting the futility of going any further.
Iranian artist Alphaxone, if he doesn’t already, could easily score a Ridley Scott-esque fantasy film with the austere, darkly-flavored synthscapes of Living in the Grayland. Spacious tracks like Cold Spring and Grayland feel both deeply cool, soothing and natural as they do empty, inhuman and alone.
Each piece feels as though it could turn into a bright, warm and uplifiting song just as quickly as it could turn into a bleak dirge that only lowers you further into a yawning abyss, with no bottom in sight and no echoes to hint at what sits mere feet or countless miles away.
Snapping us back into a less-expansive-but-more-terrifying reality is Aseptic Void‘s Psychosis, pure nightmare fuel in audio form. A disturbing trudge through a hallucinogenic mindscape of distorted phobias and seething night terrors forged through a thick mix of “quietly noisy” spaces, things skittering across the floor, knocks, bumps, impish vocal effects and broken radio squelches.
This is no cheap “haunted house sounds” compilation though, this is a dedicated and brilliant effort to frighten the listener and make them doubt their sanity and safet… … did you see that? What was… I swear something moved down the hall… it feels like there’s someone else in the room…
Finally, Cthulhu is a massive 80-minute collaboration of twelve Cryo Chamber artists paying tribute to Lovecraft’s ageless, sleeping menace. If you’re going to listen to this one, be sure to invest the time to hear the entire thing. The sheer number of collaborator talents results in an incredibly visual listening experience, with deep, thrumming synth lines giving way to murky melodies peeking through thin clouds of white noise, all cradled by an oppressive and immovable wall of gray atmosphere.
Occasionally, ambiguous real-world sound effects punctuate the weight of the sound and help to tell a tale of horrifying discovery at a far end of the world. Millenia-old writings etched into stone that, though barely discernable through thousands of years of erosion, seem to confirm that all the legends are true. Something indescribable and unearthly is buried here; not man, not god. Time means nothing to it. The writing leads downward. You can’t go back. You have to know for sure.
Share & discuss your pre-winter listening recommendations in the comments below. And remember: Ph’nglui Mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn.
(header img via) | (other images via these artists’ bandcamp pages)