Tuesday 24 February 2015

Dark Music Review – The Architects

Dark Music Review – The Architects

Written By Casey Douglass

The Architects Album Cover

Dark ambient is a genre that can use an enormous variety of sounds and inputs. While some artists use sounds from the natural world, twisting them to their own ends, others look to more man-made or mechanical sounds. The Architects falls into this second category and puts these cranking, clanging sounds to great use.
The Architects consists of 8 evolving tracks with a mechanical touch to each one. This album is the product of deep theory, ageless echos and murmurs of voices not heard in countless millennium. By use of ritual techniques and unconventional sampling, Randal Collier-Ford takes us to his world of a union between the old and the new. This is an original take on Drone vs Sound Design, leaving enough room on the album to explore both concepts fully, from empty rooms of pure sound sampling and bowing techniques to tracks with bass driven drone fused with distortion and drum hits from the abyss.

The Tracks:

A New Age
A subtle track that crackles with droning energy, like the sound of some giant plasma-infused machine barely alive but ticking over sedately in a darkened warehouse. That is, until a random power surge tickles its capacitors and sparks a cascading thrum into life.

Construction of a Demon
A gentle ‘plastic thudding’ sound gives this track a beat, joined by what seems like the sounds of night falling in a forest, but everything distorts into a perversion of how they really should be. High pitched whining and fittings being cranked judder into the darkness as whirring sounds and others join the soundscape. The track is aptly named, it really could be a demon being constructed.

Eye of the Watchers
A lighter tone begins this track, albeit one that has a looming darkness behind it, like a lone candle in a dark cavern, the dance between the two forces can only end one way as chittering clanking things move just beyond sight.

The Return
A crystalline note swells and undulates as a moderately heavy drone creases the air, the hint of vocals possibly in the distance but almost at the edge of conscious hearing. The volume of the sounds rises and falls until it erupts at the midpoint of the track, a punchy alarm-like sound echoing in the distance as the drone takes full control of the soundscape. This is a fairly gentle track that simmers rather than comes to the boil, except the aforementioned midpoint escalation.

Grave of the Chariots
An airy sound looms closer, much like a UFO might make if it buzzed over head and then landed some way off. Strange creepers and vines crack the surfaces of the ground, shimmering and pixilated and all reaching toward the silver pulsing vessel. Slight tinkling and shrill ‘squeaking’ filters through the air as a bright light erupts from the vessel and begins to scan the surrounding area like a dazzling laser. A long note dangles in the air like a puppet that has had its strings cut but before it begins to fall. Everything holds its breath. These are the images conjured in my mind by this great track.

A rising sound blooms and crescendos with moments of calm in-between, almost sounding like the soundtrack to a movie that plays when the axe wielding murderer is revealed to the audience in a flash of lightening. Echoes and sounds that seem to Doppler away impregnate the soundscape with a looming threat that threatens to break through whatever flimsy barriers stand in its way. A high-pitched whine drills into your ears as the track nears its end. Did something get through? There’s no way to be sure for certain.

Cove of the Architects
Another track that has a whine at the start, like dirty fingers rubbing around an angel’s halo. A lower resonance joins it and the tone of the track begins to drag down towards something darker. A richer bell-like ringing arrives, along with a gentle bass-drone that adds more layers to the shifting tone, the combined result almost like a long held note on a church organ, until it shifts once more. After the midpoint, things quieten and a fluttering distorted fabric-like sound jostles uneasily with a waxing and waning tone that seems to summon up a sound that might be wind, either real or psychic.

Warped vocals and wet slitherings echo in a large space that seems to serve up plenty of things to focus on. Tonal snatches, half-recordings, was it birdsong? It’s gone. Clinking keys? Gone. A voice? Too late. Maybe this is the place thoughts come to relax or let off steam by screaming. Probably the latter, considering the cries and shouts that twist the soundscape as it goes on.

The Architects is an album that always serves up something interesting for your ears to focus on. The mechanical and metallic sounds work well and certainly bring strange contraptions in dark places to mind. If I had to choose some favourite tracks, it would be Eye of the Watchers, Hellgate and Void, all of them mix the subtle with the creeping darkness in a way that I really enjoyed.

I give The Architects 4/5. It’s a great listen with inventive sounds and pleasing resonances that I think any dark ambient fan would appreciate.

Visit The Architects page on Bandcamp here for more info.

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

Album Title: The Architects
Artist: Randal Collier-Ford
Label: Cryo Chamber
Written and Produced: Randal Collier-Ford
Mastering and Artwork: Simon Heath
Released : 27th January 2015