VA: Cryosphere
Glacial Movements

Setting aside for a moment considerations of musical merit, Cryosphere first strikes one as an idiosyncratic, even curious release. Not only is Glacial Movements' founder Alessandro Tedeschi (aka Netherworld) convinced that there is a market for an eighty-minute recording of icy dronescapes (issued in a limited run of 300 copies), Tedeschi intends to dedicate the Italian label exclusively to similarly-styled recordings that evoke frozen landscapes in aural form.

Cryosphere (the Greek word ‘kryos' stands for frost or icy cold; ‘cryosphere' refers to those parts of the Earth's surface where water is in solid form) presents nine, at times imperceptibly evolving and generally dark wind-swept settings that groan and rumble across vast frozen expanses. The mood is generally bleak, peaceful, and desolate, and the sounds stark, slow-moving, and at times verging on silence. Despite the consistency of tone, there is also variety. In Closing The Eternity's “Pulse of Iceilence,” the droning twang of the khomuz (Jew's harp) resounds alongside sounds of poured water, tinkling bells, and crystalline chimes; Northaunt, on the other hand, uses processed piano to generate gracefully flowing washes of drones in "Crocker Land.” Torontonian Aidan Baker uses only guitar and digital four-track to generate the cumulous swirls of silken tones that flow throughout his ten-minute “Beneath the Ice”; unlike many of the pieces included here, Baker's eschews stasis for a dramatic slow-build. Netherworld (an old hand at this sort of thing, incidentally, with a number of Umbra and Penumbra releases lining his discography to date) sculpts a foreboding ‘scape of muffled rumbles from field recordings, synthesizers, samples, and, in his words, ‘old gates.' A simple theme repeats below the track's surface, imbuing it with a melodic dimension that's largely absent elsewhere. In Oophoi's closing “Cold Sun,” distant gulls cry amidst somber tones, injecting the recording with some small semblance of life.

Put simply, Cryosphere is an indisputably polished collection of ‘arctic ambient' works that's tailor-made for devotees of isolationist works issued by Thomas Köner, Main, and Biosphere and featured on the 1994 Virgin compilation Ambient 4: Isolationism.

April 2007