Dronny Darko: Abduction
Cryo Chamber

Keosz: AVA
Cryo Chamber

Their brooding contents amplified by stunning cover images, both of these releases exemplify Cryo Chamber's dark ambient aesthetic, the first the second Keosz album for the label by Slovakian artist Erik Osvald and the other the latest macabre collection of Dronny Darko material by Oleg Puzan.

Clocking in at fifty-five minutes, AVA appears to be a concept-driven album of sorts, given accompanying text that describes it as a recording probing “the depth of the future, where memory transfers into binary form.” Said content would appear to have acted as an inspiration and animating force for Osvald's fertile imagination in the production of the album's eleven instrumentals, many of which locate themselves at the ambient-drone end of the spectrum. Dark and occasionally disturbing AVA might be, but it's neither dissonant nor nerves-fraying. Instead, the listener is able to cozy up to its wide-screen ambient settings and massive sub-bass undertows without fear of being upset by a sudden shriek of noise. In a number of cases, Osvald wisely pushes at the boundaries of ambient conventions. On “Nothing Left but Gloom,” the inclusion of bowed strings points AVA in a classical-ambient direction but more importantly adds contrast to the album. “Consigned to Limbo” similarly changes things up by first threading voices into the construction and then draping chiming electric guitar patterns across the reverberant mass, while “Resurrection From the Dust” and “They Took All I Had” likewise distinguish themselves by threading entrancing guitar riffs into their dramatic designs. Certainly Osvald's abilities as a shaper of ambient sound are well-accounted for by excellently realized examples of the form, among them “Aquitted from Illness,” an industrial-ambient drone that pulsates threateningly as it sweeps across the heavens.

In keeping with its title, Dronny Darko's Abduction calls to mind a nightmarish, sci-fi-tinged realm where vulnerable humans are wrenched from their regular lives and dragged by merciless entities into a Lovecraftian domain outside our physical reality. Unfamiliar machines steadily roar, click, and hum as the newly abducted subjects are studied and dissected. Recorded, appropriately enough, in Puzan's smoke-filled Black Room studio in Kiev, the fifty-one-minute collection serves up eight heavily atmospheric tracks of controlled horror. A low-pitched industrial hum acts as an omnipresent undercurrent, on top of which Puzan scatters gothic elements and a sweeping array of noises. The abduction having been successfully completed, the activity seemingly shifts from a diagnostic chamber to ones where different kinds of experiments are administered; “Vapor Swamps,” for example, suggests what the newly disoriented specimen might experience when submerged in liquid baths of some indeterminate chemical kind and exposed to semi-lethal gases. The activity level heats up exponentially for “Intermission 2 - Curtain of Patterns” when the machines kick into overdrive, after which things take an especially unsettling turn when the ominous pounding, buzz-sawing, and invasive dissecting of “Veils of Static” and “Electrode Salts” hint that the now-disemboweled subjects probably won't be returning to their normal lives anytime soon. The listener in this case leaves the recording thoroughly relieved that Abduction can be experienced vicariously at a physical remove.

June 2017