Sunday 22 May 2022

Dark Ambient Review: Colossus

Dark Ambient Review: Colossus

Review By Casey Douglass

Colossus Album Art

Depth is something that seems to be all too fleeting in recent times, with both the important issues, and the less important, mangled by the machines of rhetoric and sophistry. I can’t speak for anyone else, but it often brings me to the point of ceasing to give a fuck about any of it. When I’m feeling this way, rather than merely sticking my head in the proverbial sand, I switch off, and delve into a far deeper experience, losing myself in some rich dark ambient soundscapes. Atrium Carceri and Kammarheit’s Colossus is an album that’s more than suited for leaving “all of this” behind for awhile.

As is becoming a habit when I review a Cryo Chamber release, I feel that I want to spend some time on the album cover art, as they always set the mood so wonderfully. Here, a lone figure stands between two decaying structures, a small bright light on the end of their staff providing a meagre illumination of the dark cavernous space. What I like about this is how it brings to mind the way that, once we’re used to low light conditions, even the smallest glimmer of an LED can seem to light a whole bedroom. Well, it does mine at least. When you “quiet the noise of the every day” whether by turning away from the 24/7 news churn or literally shutting out the daylight, who knows what else you might discover. I also appreciate that the figure in the album art seems to be standing contentedly at rest, feet side by side, calmly experiencing the scene that surrounds them. I guess they strike me as a figure that is alone, but likely not at all lonely, and as someone who really doesn’t want to be anywhere else.

The Colossus album description gives us a number of ways that the notion of depth manifests in the album’s theme. It reveals that it is set deep underground, which for me, always brings to mind a kind of “sinking into the Earth” feeling. It aligns this with the notion of exploring forgotten civilizations, which does a wonderful job of unlocking the doorway of time, therefore conjuring ideas and dreams of long epochs stretching back into unknowable temporal dimensions. As with anything of a great age, things tend to degrade and decay, and the soundscapes reflect this in a kind of “found footage” way, with “dirty tape reels”, crackles, buzzing, and other signs of degradation.

Opening track Subpulse is a great example of the above. It begins with a low pulsing drone, and quiet rattles and crackles. A slow, multi-element beat begins to build, one that’s cosseted by choral vocals, and wet buzzings and flappings. The imagery that came to mind was of an ancient altar, one populated by a fossilized insectoid creature that’s slowly shedding the mineral deposits from its carapace, coming to twitching life. This is a track full of crackling echoes, soothing static and a kind of throbbing, wave-building atmosphere. It’s relaxing and yet energizing at the same time.

Title track Colossus is a different beast. It opens with an undulating drone, seemingly backed by a horn-like sound that I’d describe as similar to the lowing of cattle. A shimmering high tone emerges, the audio equivalent, for me, of “fairies flickering around an ancient statue in a dark place”. An occasional thumping beat sounds, and is joined by some male choral chanting. An echoing, tapping beat proper soon appears, with things in general turning more raspy and juddery after the midpoint. This track feels both shamanic and also sacral, yet the “cow lowing” sound seems to anchor it firmly into the earth. I enjoy how these elements sit in a soundscape that seems to balance the forces that it’s depicting, with everything hanging in a pleasingly tense space.

The next track, Interwoven, is another that serves up something slightly different. It starts with a muffled, watery drone, with a hint of a distant chant and high tone. There are notions of thunder, warm swells and glugging water. The lower tones feel church organ-like. The higher tones, string-like. At times, the soundscape seems to sigh and flow, and at others, there are what could be hints of chugging machinery or circular-saw-like metallic squeals. As the track progresses, things warp and twist and blare a little more. The imagery that came to mind for this track was the explorer in the album art coming across ancient technology, but tech that mirrors some of our own, showing that we aren’t nearly as different or as advanced as we might think that we are, both civilizations seemingly ‘interwoven’ in space and time.

Colossus is a dark ambient album that contains a softly throbbing, ancient darkness, one that doesn’t feel hostile or dangerous. If it is inhabited by a spirit, it might feel ancient, sad and forgotten, but it has no acidic bitterness towards events or the people involved. It just is and it just watches and waits. If you like your dark ambient music to warmly smother you with the weight of years and the echoes of antiquity, while plucking you from the modern world and setting your mental wanderings in the depths of the Earth, you should check out Colossus.

Visit the Colossus page on Bandcamp for more information. You can also check out the track Colossus below:

I was given a review copy of this album.

Album Title: Colossus

Album Artist: Atrium Carceri & Kammarheit

Label: Cryo Chamber

Released: 15 Feb 2022