Sunday 24 July 2016

Dark Music Review - Locus Arcadia

Dark Music Review – Locus Arcadia

Review Written By Casey Douglass

Locus Arcadia Album Art

This album takes us on a voyage across the stars to the Locus Arcadia Space Station as it follows a lone protagonists questions into what happened after loss of contact.

"I can barely hear them now, their thin reverberating voices quickly fizz in and out. The crackling sounds of half garbled transmissions dance erratically in my ears, desperately trying to break through a crunching wall of distortion. My last connection to home is quickly disintegrating. The only thing I could muster from the broken transmissions was that there used to be a prison on this station and also some kind of archaic cyborg research facility. As I struggle to hold back the closing walls of helmet induced claustrophobia, I soon fear everything will be buried underneath a smothering film of my own sticky breath. I hate the feeling of being trapped in this glass prison. My attention shifts, and I begin to notice just how cold it's become. It's dropped 30 degrees since my initial inspection; the meter now reads -87 Fahrenheit. Ahead of me awaits a mammoth of a station. A rust colored metallic structure with hundreds of slits like eyes peering out into open space. I slowly slide a vigilant gaze along its seemingly endless perimeter, and in complete awe of its massiveness the reality of what awaits me firmly sets hold. A fine pointed sting of uneasiness slowly climbs through my sternum and into my throat. Now just twelve meters from the entrance, my steps turn deliberately cautious. I hesitantly raise and press my boots into the ground, compressing the tiny granules beneath me. The closer I get, the quieter it all becomes, and the more alone I begin to feel. As the distance between us diminishes, the anticipation grows feverishly tall like the dozens of rectangular glass lookouts adorning the otherwise dilapidated station. The main entry hatch now within arms reach, I punch in the code: 7-5-1-3. The door opens..."
How’s that for an album blurb? If that doesn’t set the tone for the feelings and visions that Locus Arcadia provides the listener, I don’t know what will. A collaboration between dark ambient artists Randal Collier-Ford, Flowers for Bodysnatchers, Council of Nine and God Body Disconnect, Locus Arcadia is a bleak dose of sci-fi infused dark ambient that stifles and frees in equal measure.

I must admit that my favourite moments contained in the four longish (about 15 mins) tracks often were the ones that featured the sound effects associated with the text above. These might take the form of beeping controls, the clanking of airlocks opening, or more intimate sounds such as the breathing or heartbeat of the exploring astronaut. This is where some of the stifling claustrophobia comes from, the closeness of someone breathing inside a helmet as strange sounds loom in the distance.

A couple of the tracks stood out for me above the others though, and these were Black Echo of Morgues and Memory, and Prisoner's Sacrifice Facing Arcadia. Black Echo of Morgues and Memory starts with a muted rumbling and see-sawing strings that build into the kind of sound that wouldn’t be amiss as a horror flick builds tension, alerting the listener to an incoming threat that they are unaware of creeping up on them. Metallic thumps and chimes boom and clang, soon to be joined by swelling horn-like sounds that put me instantly in mind of the Alien films’ scores. This is always an instant win with me. Also featuring in this track are other sounds like juddering static-like interference, rattling hulls and a little later, wet “blips” that seemed to channel a motion tracker, for me at least.

Prisoner's Sacrifice Facing Arcadia starts with the calm breathing of the astronaut inside a helmet, with button beeps, mechanical clamps and hisses of air giving plenty of audio cues as to what is happening. Once inside whatever it is, a drone moves in with quick beeps and rushes of air. A female voice whispers as a pulsing machinery sound begins to rise. There are footsteps, metal clanks and distorted radio chatter. A little later, things progress to a quieter soundscape that features an echoey, low grade fuzzy static that pulses and more than a little puts me in mind of insect wings. Later still, something is triggered and a warning alarm begins to sound. Something opens and an avalanche of sound rushes out. Something then closes, hinting at the entry of the astronaut into that other space. The listener hears the heartbeat of the astronaut slowly become still and the soundscape eases into a calmer, lighter feeling until the end.

Quite a listening experience. I enjoyed the other two tracks as well, but the two mentioned above just really grabbed me and had more for me to latch onto as being particularly interesting for me.

Locus Arcadia is an alluring dose of sci-fi flavoured dark ambient sound, and does a very good job of transporting the listener into some interesting places. If you find yourself hankering after some sci-fi inspired feelings, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed if you check it out. I give Locus Arcadia 4/5.

Visit the Locus Arcadia page on Bandcamp here for more information and check out the video for Prisoner's Sacrifice Facing Arcadia below:

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

Album Title: Locus Arcadia
Artists: Randal Collier-Ford, Flowers for Bodysnatchers, Council of Nine, God Body Disconnect
Label : Cryo Chamber
Released: July 12, 2016