Thursday 23 April 2015

Dark Music Review – The Old City OST

Dark Music Review – The Old City OST

Written By Casey Douglass

This 15 track soundtrack by Atrium Carceri was composed for the Narrative Philosophical game The Old City. Soothing string like atmospheres, distorted drones and brooding atmospheres carry the listeners throughout the album.

I always felt that many of Atrium Carceri’s tracks depicted what it might be like to wander through a strange city. Now, in the guise of The Old City OST, that impression has become concrete as it is the soundtrack for a game which features just such a city. Sadly, I have yet to play the game, but this soundtrack has been on my permanent rotation for a good few weeks now.

The album starts with “Intro / Menu” which is one of my favourite tracks. Distorted piano is backed by a soft drone. Haunting vocals really evoke such a feeling of melancholy that even re-listening to it while I type this has made my eyes prickle. Other emotive tracks are “Childhood I” and “Childhood II”, compositions that make great use of notes that mimic a slow music box, some notes lagging behind the others slightly, others in perfect harmony, with some quite epic vocals intoning around them in “Childhood II”.

Not all of the tracks are melancholy or so emotive however. Some sound more primal, like a force of nature. The 10+ minute track “Leviathan” is a rumbling string-infused piece that certainly hints at something large and unseen, yet possibly not hostile. The brief track “Underground” echoes with a thrumming movement and is a more jarring soundscape.

Other tracks create great rhythms that lace the gloomy backgrounds with melodies that get stuck in your mind. “Journey Home” is a great example of this, featuring a great 3-note hook that the rest of the soundscape can easily hang from.

There are no tracks that I disliked, they all have their own charm and unique take on the audio theme of the album. Some are longer, more subtle journeys, others are short interludes of grief or nostalgia, like the sun breaking through a sky scarred by the clouds of a nuclear winter. This is an album of murk that has a tenderness to it brought through by the clever use of piano and vocals. I can only hope that Atrium Carceri does more soundtrack work as this is a fantastic album for any dark ambient fan’s collection. With this in mind, I give The Old City OST 4.5/5 and heartily recommend it!

Visit The Old City OST Bandcamp page here for more info.

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

Album Title: The Old City OST
Artist: Atrium Carceri
Label: Cryo Chamber
Written, Produced and Mastered by: Simon Heath
Released : 3rd March 2015