Label Highlight: Cryo Chamber

Highlighting one of my favourite labels ever, Cryo Chamber!

2 years ago

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In these posts, we will highlight a label that we think is noteworthy of discussing and preferably isn't a major label. Today I will be talking about one of my favourite ambient labels, Cryo Chamber.

Cryo Chamber is a "cinematic dark ambient" label based in Oregon. It was started by the one of dark ambient's pioneering artists, Simon Heath, who is probably best known under his Atrium Carceri name. The music released on the label is all dark ambient but each release and musician has a distinct theme to go along with it. You could be either listening to an album with themes of the wilderness, urban landscapes, outer space, or the occult. Just diving into their catalog and picking an album that suits your needed atmosphere, will show you how diverse ambient music can be. Why I'm so drawn to ambient in the first place is that it takes me to another world, another dimension through my imagination. Cryo Chamber releases do exactly that. Another thing that helps Cryo Chamber releases is the beautiful album artwork to accompany it (which label owner Simon Heath does all of them). Without reading descriptions, just looking at the album art tells you so much about the sound of the releases on this label. Now in this post I will be highlighting five releases that I find essential listening when diving into this labels catalog. It's time to go into the journey of the dark, twisted world of Cryo Chamber.

The first album I'll highlight is a 2018 release. It's from Brazilian based musician Cesar Alexandre. I thought I'd start off with something relatively new and of course I think this is an incredibly well done album. Like I stated before, just looking at the artwork says a thousand words about the albums sound. Winter Restlessness is about a journey throughout the mountains after receiving a distress call. You sit in the distance observing the area while in your temple of warmth and comfort. Throughout the album the feeling of spirituality is present. The imagery of mountains, cold forgotten villages, and mysterious valleys. With all this comes a feeling of spiritual enlightenment as we often associate myths and fantasy's with some of this imagery. Sonically the album is largely minimal field recordings, and yet even with such a cold theme, it brings warmth to the listener.

Ugasanie is a project from Russia by Pavel Malyshkin. He makes dark ambient in vein of arctic themes. His sound is cold and desolate incorporating lots of drones and field recordings to give it a lively feel. Eye of Tunguska is a journey into the unknown. The story on the Tunguska meteorite impact site and the legends behind it. The soundscape he creates within this album makes it feel like you are in a grand adventure through a tundra landscape. Only sounds around you are the cold wind and the noises of the wilderness. Pure bliss to those who envision hiking around bat country arctic environments. This release is definitely a little more on the "dark" side of Cryo Chamber releases compared to Mount Shrine. If you're interested in the full story of the album, make sure to check out the band camp page and search on Tunguska as well.

Metatron Omega is a project based in Serbia from an alias known as Scorpio V. On Gnosis Dei, Metatron Omega uses a wide variety of Eastern/Western esoteric and religious influences to his music. Present are, grand choral arrangements and Gregorian/Byzantine chanting throughout the album. The album paints a world of being almost cult like religion but near a climax of sort. Almost as if the "second coming" or end of an era is happening. This gives a constant sense of anticipation of what will happen next to a world we almost know nothing about. It is but the curiosity of being human taking us away from fear and anxiety to push even further into the unknown world of this occult. This brings forth philosophical dilemmas of what we believe and what we actually know. What truth lies in both and what can we determine to be real. Dark ambient has no lyrics, but with soundscapes like this, consciousness is still challenged.

ProtoU is a project from Ukraine done by Sasha Cats. ProtoU is by far my favourite from the Cryo Chamber label, and I also think one of the most talented as well in dark ambient music today. She brings a lot to table with brooding synths, vast field recordings, and frightening drones. In Khmaoch though, she takes use through a journey of exploring ancient Eastern esoteric civilizations. This is like finding a undiscovered city in deep ruins, finding ancient anthropology that is alien to us. Throughout the album she has guest Ivan Ioanov play the flute, giving it an eerily feeling of passing through each and every dim passageway. The drones give a feeling of a spiritual presence, as if a lost one is in a room guiding you to the end of your journey. At moments you feel despair; giving up and going back. Then there's a moment of light. Shining bright in front of you knowing the tricks of fear, overcoming that with the knowledge of courage. ProtoU successfully brings you to world like no else, almost like a movie or video game. This is what Cryo Chamber does best as a label finding musicians capable of making music like this.

It would be a shame if I didn't close off with the labels creators project, Atrium Carceri. Atrium Carceri as a project, as far as I can tell, started in the early 2000's. What a long way Simon Heath has come to the dark ambient scene. Establishing himself first as a prominent dark ambient artist and then taking that knowledge to create a fantastic label to spread more dark ambient music to the rest of the world. Now Atrium Carceri's sound is almost blend of everything dark. From synths to samples, Atrium Carceri always successful creates an atmosphere evoking the feeling of loneliness and desolation. As well as themes of society collapsing on itself and environmental decay. All of Atrium Carceri's albums are part of a story, but the story is left ambiguous. Simon has said this is because he wants it 'up to the listener' to have their own interpretation of the story and world he is building. The Untold is just another piece in the world. The world brings us to a primordial metropolis, where the creator of all has abandoned us. The Untold brings sounds of lonely drones, old forgotten field recordings, and cinematic dark ambient dragging us through another mental journey.

Further Listening:

Andrew Kalichak

Published 2 years ago