Friday 27 February 2015

Dark Music Review – 2147

Dark Music Review – 2147

Written By Casey Douglass

2147 Album Cover

I like it when the music I listen to tells a story. Usually it’s something that my own mind constructs, so it’s nice to find an album that explicitly has a story in mind. Sabled Sun’s 2147 does just that:
The third album from the Sabled Suns 21xx series about a man awoken from hibernation to a world in ruins, takes us through the third year 2147. A shattered man self taught to survive in the harsh world left empty by it's predecessors, only it's mechanical children left behind. The protagonist journeys through a burned out world towards the Outer Zones and the rumored space center there, in search for answers.
Sadly, I haven’t listened to the other Sabled Sun albums so I am joining the story a little late (Sabled Sun is the alias of Simon Heath, aka Atrium Carceri). Even so, I was still able to read the description and track titles and enjoy the dark tones of what sounds like a pretty harsh journey.

The Tracks:

The first sounds are wind and footsteps, thunder rumbling ominously in the distance. There is birdsong, but this soon takes on a perverted aspect: the sound isn’t normal, which makes it sinister rather than consoling. A drone fades in with crackles that sound like the noise rain makes on an abandoned tent, stray droplets hitting tin cups and other utensils left behind. Piano joins the composition and a swirl of sound which becomes more abstract around the midpoint of the track, the more natural noises disappearing as drone and tones reign.

Our Mechanical Children
A higher pitched sound and warped tones begin this lighter track, their sounds echoing and fluid as they conjure images of sunlight shining from the edges of large metal objects. Repeated vocals loop like a broken tape, each time the words saying something different. The track and the title brought to mind a lost robot, sitting in a room watching old news reels, trying to piece together what happened to humanity and where we’ve gone.

A staticy electro-sound thrums this track into life, setting up a nice beat that other tones can dance around. Piano notes join the fun and the track gently lulls the listener, the contrast between the soft and harsh sounds working well to entrance and entertain.

Inner Workings
A low drone ebbs and flows before being joined by an airy sound, which slowly becomes mechanical in nature, rattling and jarring as it dashes into the depths. If ever there was a soundtrack to exploring long forgotten tunnels underground with only a flickering candle for company, this is it. It is injected with a beat just after the midpoint which turns a once relaxed track into a more “There’s something after you, better get out!” affair.

Muted tinkles and a swelling tone merge with the sound of dripping water and long keyboard notes. This is the track that could play as an adventurer is carried semi-conscious over the shoulders of some horrific monster. If it was a horror film, think slo-mo and a route that passes the severed body parts of its other victims.

Light and airy. Violin notes reach high into the overcast sky before glancing off low hanging clouds. If the previous tracks were in the dark tunnels of some hell hole, this track would be the emergence into the ruined air of a landscape that might hold just as many threats as the realm last vacated.

The Outer Zone
A crackling distortion and deep horn-like tone join with what sounds like vocals or whispers cut short. A rumbling string infused soundscape reverberates with distant, very distant chimes that grow nearer.

The Space Center
Sounds of a dog-like animal barking and howling merge with wind and trees as footsteps unsteadily move towards their goal. A door thuds shut, a barrier between the noises outside. A whimsical flurry of synthesized notes sounds before footsteps crunch along the grainy floor. A string accented drone begins, creating a great sense of something happening. Snatches of radio-transmission like vocals distort and become clear to ask a question. Quiet tones play a quick melody, much like one of those annoying mobile phone ring-tones before they could actually handle music. It soon fades back into the drone before the quality of the bass changes to an even deeper rumbling that is then overlaid with gentle guitar notes, as echoing and reassuring as the drone is dark and powerful. This is longest track on the album which adds to the feeling of exploration and discovery.

A crackling resonance and bubbling water-like sounds join melancholy notes that sigh and hiss their way into your ear. A quiet track with insect-like flutterings and movements, like strange moths flapping around dusty unused computers.

A caressing sci-fiesque resonance overlaid on sounds of dripping water and quiet melodies. Chimes echo and a drone grows. The whole track suggests a disappointing homecoming, the place ransacked or destroyed, the memories of how it was butting up uncomfortably against the reality of its desecration. Distant birdsong only heightens those feelings even more.

Static and electronic noises warp and mingle around snatches of what sound like voices, echoing beeps pushing their way through. The volume of the static rises and fades, rises and fades as the beeping takes on a guise similar to a life-support machine's vitals sound. The static is very effective at portraying someone slipping into sleep.

Dreams Without a Future
Warm piano notes play a calming melody tinged with melancholy and peace. A secondary note joins them around the midpoint and plays around them adding another layer of interest.

2147 is a subtle dark ambient album that revels in creating interesting soundscapes that ease you through them, rather than hurrying you along to the next big rumble-drone finale. While the concept and tracks do fit with the story of the description, my mind did what it usually does and concocted its own impressions of what was going on, though still loosely associated with the narrative.

Stand out tracks for me were Survival, Our Mechanical Children and Flesh. The first for its atmospheric nature sounds and the ease in which it lures the listener in. I enjoyed Our Mechanical Children for its vocal hook and mental impressions of sunlight. Flesh I enjoyed for its darker tone and dank oppressive feelings.

I enjoyed my time with 2147. Every part of the album is polished and seamlessly put together. I also enjoyed how it sounded more like Atrium Carceri on a couple of occasions. My rating for 2147 is a well deserved 4/5, I can’t really fault it but as I’ve often said, my own taste tends to the jarring rather than the subtle and smooth when it comes to dark ambient.

Visit the Cryo Chamber Bandcamp page here for more information.

I was given a free copy of the album to review.

Album Title: 2147
Artist: Sabled Sun
Label: Cryo Chamber
Written and Produced: Simon Heath
Mastering and Artwork: Simon Heath
Released : 10th February 2015