Monday 19 October 2015

Dark Music Review - Azathoth

Dark Music Review – Azathoth

Review Written by Casey Douglass

In 2014 Cryo Chamber got some of the most prominent dark ambient artists together to synchronize their studios during a year of collaboration creating the album Cthulhu in tribute to H.P. Lovecraft. With Azathoth Cryo Chamber double the effort with a 2 CD release follow up. No less than 20 artists has been working for the last year to synchronize and co-create Azathoth. Azathoth is a collaboration NOT a compilation. Azathoth is an Outer God in the Cthulhu Mythos and Dream Cycle stories of H. P. Lovecraft and other authors. Azathoth's precise appearance is only hinted at throughout the Mythos, and indeed may be unknowable by mortal beings. It is described as occupying a position outside of the universe, where it is attended by a cohort of alien servants.

Cthulhu, the collaboration mentioned in the album description above, is probably one of my favourite dark ambient albums of all time. Its one massive track took the listener from the stormy waves, deep under the sea and back again, dragging something eldritch along for the ride. You can read my review of Cthulhu at this link. With this in mind, Azathoth had me wondering if I would find another mind-blowing favourite to add to my collection, another Lovecraft infused dance with the abyss. Featuring the work of a whole host of dark ambient artists including Atrium Carceri, Aphaxone, Randal Collier-Ford and Ugasanie amongst many others, Azathoth had every chance of being something very special. Did I find my shadowy bride or was I left jilted at the alter? Read on to find out.

Tracks / Thoughts

Rather than the usual collection of anywhere from 6 to 10+ tracks, Azathoth comes in with two mammoth tracks: the first of around 55 minutes, the second just breaking through the one hour mark. I did begin to write quite in-depth descriptions of each track but abandoned that when I realised it would make for a wall of text and would probably not be the best way to approach things. I've decided to give a general overview instead, having spent a good amount of time with Azathoth and relaxed to it on a number of listenings.

The first thing that I would say is that both tracks are fairly smooth dark ambient compositions, containing flowing drones and ambient sound recordings that I didn't find too jarring. Of the two tracks however, “Azathoth 2” has a few sections in which there are some quite harsh sounds: an example being what sounds like someone throwing a pebble at a rocky floor and it shattering. It almost felt like being poked in the chest. I can imagine this will only be an issue if you fancy using Azathoth to doze off to however, but not everyone is as strange as me in that respect I am sure.

The sounds contained in the tracks all serve to take the listener on a dark journey towards things that are hard to give words to. I felt like I spent most of my time roaming roughly-hewn rock tunnels in the earth, some segments dimly lit and dripping with water, others black as pitch with air so thick that it is hard to walk through, let alone breathe. There are audio effects that sound like something breathing and flying past in the gloom, there are others that give the impression of industry at a great distance, like creeping past some vast cavern containing strange creatures delving in further into the ground. Voices mutter and mumble, sounding like they are on old radio-sets far away and bassy rumbles hint at the shifting of colossal forces.

For me, Azathoth is a meditation on the rock-paved abyss, gradually falling through the world until finding myself in some other place, an other place with strange denizens and a strange atmosphere that scythes away the concerns of everyday life, replacing them with more primal themes and motives. If you couldn't guess, I very much enjoyed my time listening to Azathoth and happily give it a rating of 4.5/5.

Visit the Azathoth page on bandcamp here for more information and prices.

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

Album Title: Azathoth
Album Artist: Cryo Chamber Collaboration
Label: Cryo Chamber
Mastering and artwork: Simon Heath
Release Date: 6 October 2015