Cryo Chamber, 2013
Genre: Dark Ambient
2. Frigid Silence
3. Somewhere Safe
5. The Corridors Beneath
8. Through Debris
10. As the World Decays
Buy this here: Cryobiosis on Cryo Chamber
This is a genre I don't spend enough of my time listening to or reviewing. I saw an update from Cryo Chamber with a sample off this album and within a minute I knew I needed a copy of this. I quickly paid my seven dollars and downloaded a copy and now we are here with a review. The label describes this release as follows:
"Within ruins" explores the depths of abandoned structures, dwindling stairs and the history of civilizations past. With some truly spectacular layering techniques and influences from beyond the dark ambient sphere, this is one album worth every minute of your attention. Instrumentation ranges from field recordings, soundscapes like drips and glitch ridden beats to classical instrumentation like piano and encapsulated strings deep down under the surface.
This description is very accurate. To say that this is a logical progression of "From the Depths" wouldn't do the staggering leap forward "Within Ruins" brings to our ears. This release is nothing less than evocative and I've literally listened to it three times now trying to figure out what I could say about it. It's not because I can't think of anything... it's because I'm not sure I can come up with words that will do my description justice. The level of immersion this release can generate is spectacular. There is a lot of Ambient I like, but I will be honest there aren't that many releases that can put me in a different location as deeply as Cryobiosis seems able to do. The landscapes "Within Ruins" generates are just stunning and being able to do that with just music takes a great deal of skill. For now let's see where the new journey takes us...
It was time for me to do something. I couldn't just sit in the recording room waiting to see if this person would open up a transmission again. I tried looking around the transmission room to see if there was any indication to their location. I really wish there was a way for me to read the symbols on the keys... After some fidgeting around in this control room I found some sort of correlative map. This person seemed to be in a city on the other side of the continent I was on. It was time to travel back down to the transport pods and see if I could figure out how to get there. I tried matching up some symbols and managed to find something. I gave it a shot to see where it would take me...
I arrived in a different location. It felt different, even though a great deal of the architecture looked the same. Of in the distance I saw an incredible structure. A huge soaring monolith, it captured and left my attention in "Enthrall". A monolithic structure that big must have drawn the attention of whoever was here... perhaps I should head towards that. I know, it's a random idea, but it felt more purposeful than haphazardly looking around. This city, aesthetically, was very different. It felt as if this place was dead for a lot longer than the other place. The "Frigid Silence" was simply palpable as I wandered the streets to make my way to the monolith. As I walk through the corridors I could hear faint sounds of rocks falling. What if that is the other lost traveler? Suddenly I hear what sounds like chains clanking together... is something alive here? I don't think I should be out on the streets so I duck into the nearest structure so I have "Somewhere Safe" to observe anything that goes by. Eventually the sounds pass and I feel I can continue on to the structure.
I finally arrive at the threshold and enter the building. The interior looks familiar. I have a "Recollection" of the transmission and the background looked similar. Maybe this building is some sort of giant antenna for sending signals? I really should try and find this building control room... I doubt it would up, so I look for the nearest hall taking me down. "The Corridors Beneath" are only dimly lit and I feel like the structural integrity has been somewhat compromised. The weight of such a monolith must be causing the underlying structure to sink into the ground. Eventually I stumble upon a door leading to a staircase going down. The symbols on the door look like they say "Murkfall", as if that meant anything? The symbols are probably so worn I'm only making up something. As I enter the staircase to go down there is a section leading up where you can look out a window. It's raining outside. At least I made it in at the right time. Heading down the stairs finally I hear what sounds like the faint sounds of machinery. As if computers are calibrating the antenna, but all I really want to find is the control room.
Finally, towards the bottom I look into a room that looks like the central control room. Everything just looks "Corroded" and I begin to worry if anything will even work. I look at one of the screens... there's a hand print there! There is someone here! It's a human hand! I'm not alone! The elation grips me only for a few seconds as I realize the person is gone. In fact they are probably not even in this facility anymore. Perhaps they are scavenging for supplies... Suddenly I hear something giving way, like a loud crunching sound. One of the structures in the hall collapsed. There is dust flowing everywhere. I try to rush out of there as fast as possible, I climb "Through Debris" that has fallen and I hope to make it out of there before anything else caves in. Looking out at the world as I exit the monolithic structure it occurs to me that there's enough dust and debris that maybe someone has left footsteps. I wonder what this person thinks of this long "Forgotten" world. Searching around the doorway I find some footsteps that could not have been mine. They are moving further towards the center of this city.
As I try my best to follow the footsteps my mind goes to wandering. I'm no longer paying rapt attention to the details of this place "As the World Decays" around me. Eventually I make it to the center of the city, after carefully considering things I realize that perhaps the center of the city will have a system for transportation between worlds. I wonder if the other traveler has realized this too. I feel the need to proceed urgently so I start running towards the center. The footsteps lead me to another facility. I hear that clanking sound again. I choose a direction, almost at random, but then realize I need to follow the footsteps. I have no idea how they understood where they were going, the person didn't even double back or explore anything. I finally made it to this facilities control room and there they were! Hovering over the controls as if they knew exactly what to do. I stood observing them in awe.
"Hey, what are you doing?"
They turned utterly startled. They had no idea I was there. "I'm getting out of here, who are you?" It was a girl! It was hard to tell with all of her clothes and I couldn't tell on the monitors at the other city given all the static, but finally hearing the voice clearly made things pretty obvious. We made introductions, her name was Jill. It turns out she knew quite a bit about where we were and had been lost here for a while. She figured out how to obtain food and water, which was good to know because I was pretty low on supplies. But then I realized she said she was getting out of here.
"What did you mean by 'getting out of here' earlier?
"This facility is a massive transmitter and hopefully has enough power to send our signatures home..."
"Like real home? As in Earth?"
"Yes!", her smile broadening at the thought.
The interior of the control room certainly looked like a larger more powerful version of the pods that transported me between cities. Jill finally hits the right sequence to fire up the matter transportation machine. She looks at me with a light in her eyes. The thought of "Departure" is exhilarating, and yet sad. Part of me feels compelled to explore these ruins... to understand who peopled these cities. With one last look out into the corridor I step onto the platform. We are whisked away and arrive someplace entirely new. We are at an identical facility... were these things really on Earth? A feeling of "serenity" flows over me and for a brief moment I wonder if we truly are home as we exit the doors of this control room...
As I was writing I realize that the "lonely" aspect is something he sort of emphasizes in the description. I have decided to deviate from this a little because I feel the added purpose for a search is more apparent in the music. I felt the search isn't a meandering one, but more of a purposeful one. I hope I have done this music justice even if I have deviated from the intended representation. I truly can't wait to see what Cryobiosis has in store for me next. I wonder if it will be an entirely new journey... or will I have to find some way to return to the vast cities the music has created for me!
Below is a difficult choice... all the tracks are stunning... so I chose, sort of at random, from my favorites.
GV Sound, 2012
Genre: Dark Ambient
1. Inside the Core
6. The Other Side
8. Home is Far Away
10. End of Transmission
Download the release for free: Cryobiosis at Bandcamp
Cryobiosis is a Dark Ambient project out of Romania performed by it's sole member Christian Viocu. He presents a beautiful journey with varied soundscapes to unknown and unexplored locations. I confess I hadn't heard of this project until it showed up on Simon Heath's label. I wasn't aware this album even existed until I had already listened to "Within Ruins." The journey of "From the Depths" is given some context by:
"I have awakened from the depths of a long, ethereal sleep. Everything around me seems transformed; endless frigid ruins of a dead civilization spread before my eyes all the way to the far horizon. I cannot remember anything as my past seems erased and forgotten. From time to time, strange voices appear in the vast darkness out of nowhere. But when I follow them I still cannot find a living soul. A cold, pale sun is watching over my loneliness but its rays are far too weak to break through the thick mist. I seem to be walking in a circle, without knowing where I will end or what I will encounter."
It is a little interesting that I'm seeing this pop up more. I'm more used to the extremely vague Ambient projects that just present their music with some artwork and let the listener imagine what they will. I think I would have thought of this description without ever reading it because the music really does a great job of generating that atmosphere to the listener. I think the amnesiac approach is a little unnecessary though and it is a little cliché. I like to think I know who I am while listening to "From the Depths", but I am just exploring a lot of unknown and untouched ruins and landscapes.
Actually the way I really like to think of this release (based on the title) is that I am a lone explorer on Earth that has fallen down a deep cavern. I awake with all my faculties retained, but now I am truly in untouched territory. This cavern has never seen the touch of human hands in millennia. As I bring forth a light source I realized that it is not just a work of nature before, but a work of an ancient civilization. Rather than build up as our civilization does, these peoples dug deeper into the earth. I realize I seem to be "Inside the Core" of this vast city-scape. This is the central node, I think, that lets travelers in and out of the city to the outer reaches. Nothing looks as it used to for nature has had thousands of years to reclaim these ruins regardless of how vast. I find some sort of switch or button and press it and energy source flares up illuminating vast reaches of region. It's loud workings reverberating off the structures around me.
A line of dim lights pulsates out of my location in various directions. I decide to pick one and follow it for a while, vaguely wondering how I will ever get out of this predicament. As I go down vast corridors I see so many "Shattered" ruins. They are both haunting and beautiful, I wonder what this civilization could been like. There is writing on some statues, but it's unlike anything I've ever seen... were these beings even human? Always with me is a sort of throbbing hum of energy lighting my way. I travel down a corridor somewhat off the main strip and exit into a building housing a "Monosphere". The structure is absolutely massive. Is this the world they knew? It certainly inspires awe and I travel around the structure to see if there is any writing anywhere. I find a button and press it, the sphere comes to life! Illuminated all over are pathways, maybe maps for getting from one location to the other? In other sections there are brightly lit nodes that, to me, must signify other cities. I wonder if there are larger cities or if this is the largest. I travel out of the building back onto the main road. As I exit the building across the street is a statue of a figure with a robe holding their hands in some strange patterns. There are strange symbols all over the robe. I get the impression that this is a work of religious belief and I find myself wondering what kind of "Dogma" their civilization was plagued with as our own currently is. Were they stringent and oppressive? Or were they a boon to the society, helping all they could. How did it develop? Who were their gods? Then I began to wonder if I would ever find out. This leads me to a sort of "Awakening", a realization that I might not make it out of here alive. Fear grips me for the first time as the awe of the place fades away. I don't have a lot of supplies to last me here. I feel the need to run, but panic would only have disastrous results in this situation... I decide to sit and think through my options.
Maybe with this vast energy source there were ways to rapidly move about the city. It would take far too long to simply walk to "The Other Side" and I would simply be exhausted. I decide to return to the core and see if I can figure out any of these puzzles. The energy pulsating there is nearly tangible. I frantically look around this "control room" of sorts. I worry that pushing buttons at random... would that destroy the energy source? Would they have thought of putting in fail safes? I decide to try something out eventually. Maybe there is another core on the other side of the city and maybe there's some sort of transport system. I eventually realize there were pods around this building and I run out and look inside them. I decide to try out getting into one of them and seeing what it does. I close the door...hopefully this turns out to be a good idea. Inside there is a button, I push it... it's not really like flying, it's more like being deconstructed. I realize I am inside a matter transporter. When I realize that my body has been moved I feel rather disoriented... but now I am someplace else at least. For better or worse I open the door and see an almost identical system core. I decide to wander around this area to see what I can find. I realize the layout is almost identical, but backwards, like some sort of "Inversion" of the place I came from. Everything heads towards some kind of center, so I start walking that way.
After quite a while I stumble upon a huge building that looks more important than the others. Huge statues are built outside it that sort of look like constellations. I decide to go inside and see if I can find anything. After wandering around for an hour I come to the main part of the building. There is a huge auditorium with seats built in a circle around a single device in the center. This building clearly has power now, so I race down to the center and start pushing buttons. I finally hit one that brings up a beautiful holographic image. It looks like an accurate representation of the sun and planets. It's simply beautiful. This culture was clearly incredible, but something is wrong. I look at the sun... it has a sort of blue-ish hew to it. That... that doesn't seem correct. I look at the planets... there are twelve of them. I look at the highlighted one, as if it is saying "you are here"... it indicates I am on the fifth planet. This is not Earth... this is not my solar system. Realizing "Home is Far Away" is overwhelming. I sink to the floor in despair. I finally try to get up and wander around this location. I have a vague idea that I shouldn't lose hope, because somehow I got here from Earth. I just hope this is in the same galaxy, because anything to the contrary seems physically impossible.
I decide to see what I can find on the upper floors. It occurs to me that I haven't found any bodies. There aren't even any "Remnants" of people or food. It doesn't look like the place was abandoned... it looks like the people just disappeared. I find this thought grating against my consciousness... something is terribly wrong. I feel like this planet is dead. If I were to travel to the other cities, I think I would find more of the same here. I finally work my way into a room with all kinds of controls. A screen comes to life and shows a transmission from I don't know where. It's a human! They're asking if anyone is out there. I frantically start pushing buttons, but nothing is reacting. They are looking for anyone and they don't want to be alone, just like me! With growing concern I realize they might be in a different city, the background doesn't look the same as my area. What city could they be in! How can I get to them? Do those pods bring me to other cities or do they only connect within this one? Eventually the person says they will try again in a few hours. Do I sit around here and wait for them to try again? I am so torn. With their "End of Transmission" I feel more lost than ever.
This was a great release. A superb journey you could say. I have enjoyed writing all of the things I felt while experiencing the recording. I don't know if that's what Christian had in mind, but that's the journey I went on while listening to this. I really look forward to the next release and I greatly encourage people to download from the link above. Cryobiosis is a little different compared to some of the other Ambient out there, because it doesn't feel like it's about creating a sense of terror or dread. But I feel Cryobiosis is trying to generate a sense of awe for it's listeners, but with a subtle twinge of loneliness. This is definitely a job well done. Enjoy the sample below, but you should really try to experience it in full.