STYLE: Bleak beatless windscapes in all their stark sonic beauty. Cryosphere brings together nine ambient artists sharing a monochrome vision of smooth glacial isolation. Toneless sweeps and aural air movements share centre stage with atmospheric drones and subtle electronic patterns and peripherals. Panoramic abstract arrangements are enhanced by variations in intensity and density of sound — at times thin, sheeting drifts of noise arise in gossamer veils, at others rumbling masses of sound suggest enormity of substance flickered across with delicate effects — some points are harmonious, soft, consonant — others
MOOD: This is not a dark album, although similar in a number of musical techniques, the overall effect is quite different — here palid light casts an ashen haze and wan horizons gleam in the low radiance of a boreal dawn. Glacial Movements have pulled together a creation of remote solitude in shades of grey and white. Peaceful, expansive, timeless and elemental.
ARTWORK: Cryosphere comes in a slimline jewel case with elegantly sharp graphics. The front cover image is rolling polar landscape presented in shades of grey — although this is one of those delightful grey tone pictures that isn’t quite grey. The cover opens out into a two panel booklet — a legend and contact details on one face, tracklist and credits on the other. Each contributing artist lists some recording details along with website and email information.
OVERALL: “GLACIAL MOVEMENTS is a new label devoted to the description of icy landscapes.” This exciting debut album from the label is exquisitely presented as a limited edition of 300 copies and features tracks from LIGHTWAVE, TROUM, TUU, OOPHOI, NETHERWORLD, NORTHAUNT, THO SO AA, CLOSING THE ETERNITY, Aidan Baker. The artists have managed to establish and maintain a fresh musical zone for themselves — a barren space of desolate magnificence, frozen air, lonely quietude.
How can you not love a drone compilation whose tagline is “A musical journey that transports the listener into glacial and unexplored lands where icebergs collide and where everything is frozen?” If you’re anything like us (and we think that you are) then the answer is YOU CAN’T!!! Can’t NOT love it that is. This limited cd-r compilation is the first release on the Glacial Movements label, an entirely appropriate monicker if you hadn’t figured that out for yourself. Some of the names are familiar, TROUM, Aidan Baker, some aren’t, THO-SO-AA, LIGHTWAVE, TUU, but they all explore similar barren landscapes of sound, some are frosty and desolate, some are more warm and dark, but this comp is an isolationist drone freak dream come true. Closing The Eternity (who recently released a 7” on Drone Records) start things off with a brooding and buzzing expanse of glistening dark ambience crafted from vibraphone, icewater sounds (!) and hundreds of bells and chimes. Those bells and chimes drift across wide stretches of rumbling shimmer, very evocative of some frozen wasteland. Northaunt are up next with a piece for processed piano, a whirring soundscape of fuzz and hiss and shhhhhhhhhhh, very warm and dreamy, a lot like a more ambient M83, super soft and billowy but with a slightly ominous undercurrent. Tho-So Aa’s track is so quiet, it almost sounds like a field recording of a walk through some abandoned city, distant sounds drift in and out of earshot, subtle shuffles and various found sounds surface, about halfway through the music overtakes the natural ambience, deep cavernous rumbles, a softly beeping sonar like tone, all wrapped in delay and echo, like walking through a seaside town thick with nighttime fog. Lightwave chime in with a mix of electronics and “atmospherics” which ends up sounding like a drifting exploration of some murky undersea world, muted and darkly sparkling. Tuu give us seven minutes of slow shifting minimalism, a single note/tone that seems to twist and squirm until it breaks apart into glistening shards of high end shimmer. Next up is AQ faves Troum, with a 12 minute drift through some lost land, a soundscape rife with all sorts of non musical sounds, creaks and groans, clatter and thump, super dark and menacing, a little bit reminiscent of Nurse With Wound’s Salt Marie Celeste, a similar feeling of drifting lost across the sea. Up next is another AQ fave Aidan Baker (Nadja, Arc, etc.) whose track is maybe the dreamiest and warmest on the comp. His track almost should have been last as it sounds like the clouds parting, the sun finally breaking through, after a long and harrowing journey through darkness, a rich swirl of dreamy drones and softly shifting melodies. But it’s right back into the pit with Netherworld, an ultra minimal soundscape constructed from field recordings, old gates (!), synths and samples. Like traveling through some mysterious cave, no light, only sound and touch to guide you, so pretty, but so haunting. Finally a long slow trudge to the end of the disc from Oophoi, a wash of rich rumbling synths, a lonely sorrowful sound, rife with darkness and isolation. A glacial expanse of frozen sound. Essential for the drone inclines among you as well as fans of all things dark and ambient.
I’m going to try to review each track if I can. The 1st project is unknown to me and reminds me alot of the ethno dark ambient music labels like Soleilmoon, Hypnos or Dark Vinyl use to release. Very full and deep with chimes and feelings of the East. Think Rapoon meets Vidna Obmana. 2nd up is Northaunt who are now on the Cyclic law label . Dark Drifting ambient very ethereal something you would hear in the cold dark regions of space. Tho-so-aa is next and we all know them if we’ve ever got a release. Dark, Minimalist Haunting Occult Ambient (Amazing!!!). Lightwave another band I know nothing of. Yet another of what I would call the early Cold Meat Dark Ambient sounding projects. If you like this stuff you will love Lightwave. I’ve heard a bit of this next band TUU but lets see what’s in store. More of what a expected Dark Drift and Drone ambient with a few electro moments in the effects realm. Troum the masters of Ambient Drone/Drift have a track here and as with all Troum releases slow build, climax and drift out. You have to love the mastery of a project like this. Aidan Baker is next his fame is growing with being on some larger experimental labels as of late (Alien8).Another artist mastering there craft in minimalist dark sounds and its very well done this is the most orchestral by far. This would be a Hypnos artist if they were having a larger output of late. Netherworld this is his label so lets see what goods he has to offer. If your a fan of Older Raison dÊtre or Troum this is a much maybe the best track on the CD. It’s painful to listen to it almost makes me feel hollow. OOPHOI the final beast on this very good compilation. Minimalist Neo Dark ambient very very dronish. Great way to send a stellar release!!!!
“CRYOSPHERE is a musical journey that transports the listener into glacial and unexplored lands where icebergs collide and where everything is frozen”
CLOSING THE ETERNITY just released a 7” on Drone records and now they’re back on this sampler. The vibraphone makes the atmosphere sometimes a bit surreal — like wandering through a Dali-painting. Even though they are from Siberia, the track has a feel of “Australia in winter”.
We know NORTHAUNTs work from a.o. the Canadian label Cyclic Law (where it also can be very cold). While listening, I sometimes had to turn my head to identify the exact sound I was hearing. This is a very good example of a true glacial soundscape.
THO-SO-AA does what he does best. This track would perfectly fit on either “index 1.0 coma” or on “minus” — a deep threatning drone combined with slowly evolving arpegiators / sequences in the backgroound.
The first new name for me is LIGHTWAVE with “Proxima Thule”. A gorgeously manipulated atmosphere is created by these two guys. It holds the middle between a soundscape (quite some texture) and a drone (the more minimal approach towards ambient). This could be called an example of dronebient; At points it is icecold, at other moments warm and compassionate.
TUU I only knew from the sampler “Twilight Earth” and exactly that quite known serie is what you have to expect from this sampler. Albeit (offcourse) that the twilight earth series was a lot warmer.
TROUM makes their presence with “Glascei” and what a beauty this is. They seem to be a bit more silent then what we’re used from them, but the tension in this track is amongst the best we’ve ever heard from them.
Aidan Baker uses only a guitar and even though a guitar (which is the only soundsource he uses) is quite a warm instrument, his track perfectly fits the glacial atmospheres.
NETHERWORLD — from what I’ve understood the man behind this release — is also a new name for me musically. You can position it somewhere between the coldness of Northaunt and the ambient from TUU. With a little less reverb the track would be even colder, nevertheless it fits very well on this sampler.
The CD closes with OOPHOI, the third new name for me. A little bit of the same “problem” as with Netherworld: A little less reverb/fx would have added to the atmosphere. Despite that a great track with (for me) the atmosphere of standing on the tundra when the first snow of the year is blown over the earth, creating snowhills as it settles around boulders in the soil.
“Cryosphere” is a CD-r which is professionally copied and printed and that’s the only negative aspect I can think of. It should have been a pressed CD. Because like icebergs, CD-r’s don’t have eternal life …
With these artists you can’t go wrong, so the sampler is an absolute must have if you like ambient, drones and minimal experiments. It plays for the full 80 minutes and — even though it is very hard to make a good sampler — this one worked out perfectly!
This here is the first release by the Italian Glacial Movements label, founded to provide us with arctic and isolationist soundscapes. This should be sufficient to indicate that if you’re not into minimalist ambient, you’d best stay away. If you do fancy a bit of icy void-gazing now and then, however, this might be something for you.
This compilation contains a mixture of (to me) well known and lesser known artists. CLOSING THE ETERNITY hails from Russia, and opens the CD with a quite enjoyable mix of gloomy water sounds, jaw’s harp-like drones and various other effects. A layered and well produced track. Northaunt needs little introduction, in my opinion. The aptly named “Crocker Land” (an arctic region) is a beautiful, high-pitched track, featuring the characteristic NORTHAUNT atmosphere. It truly feels as if you’re out there, underneath the clouds, while the world is frozen over. THO-SO-AA’s “Cryotesk” is also very enjoyable. Dark, but open-sounding drones with what sounds like a sonar pulse on the foreground. LIGHTWAVE is a long-standing (since 1985) ensemble from France, who also come with a well-crafted, but inconspicuous track. The same goes for Tuu’s “Silent Writing”, which is well-made, but not very special. German duo TROUM is also a project that needs relatively little introdutction. The track present here is created from the combination of field recordings and various instruments. Somehow, it lacks something that could have made this longest track more interesting, and more fitting with the general atmosphere of the album. “Beneath the ice” by Canadian multi-talent Aidan Baker is a very pleasant, soothing track with a subtle development, which, however, would have benefited from a little more variation. Netherworld is the project by the man behind Glacial Movements. “KRYOS” is also a good track, with some nice sounds, but at this point the CD is getting rather long. The final track is “Cold Sun” by the Italian project OOPHOI, which is short but good, with an atmosphere that reminds me a bit of SVARTSINN.
All in all, this compilation contains some good ambient material, but it is also rather long. Because of this, the first three tracks really stand out, and after that, my attention starts to drift a bit. I guess this is a combination of the nature of these tracks and the length of the album. The first three tracks also fit the best with my personal interpretation of “glacial” ambient, and I’d say that these are the most succesful. This CD is probably too minimalistic for many listeners, and it is a bit trying for a moderately experienced listener as myself, as well. Nevertheless, die hard lovers of a particularly bleak and cold style of ambient should be very pleased with this compilation.
Beautiful ambient experience, hidding 9 tracks in itself. The compositions are magnificently interlaced with ambient spaces and signals, taking us into the world, shrouded in night atmosphere together with the sounds reminding of the space... Let?s set out for a journey together, full of minimalist spaces, coated by signals from the darkness.This project impacts with such emotions and there is beautiful story hidden inside, almost a story, everyone must listen onself, to consider, it? very beautiful ambient. Tracks are relatively long, but the more you enter the world full of mysteries.I recommend it heartily to everyone, keen on minimalist ambient and long dark trips...
Escapism has always been a natural component of the arts, despite some snobs claiming the opposite. And, with the mysterious symbiosis between its capacity of emulating environments and leaving a considerable creative input to the observer, music will always remain the ideal vessel for escapism. With this in mind, the newly errected “Glacial Movements” label should quickly turn into a focal point for all friends of mind travelling. Intent on depicting landscapes of eternal ice, fields of frozen flowers and the vastness of landscapes stretching into infinity, its very purpose is to seduce listeners into the realms of a yet untouched continent. On “Cryopshere”, label founder Netherworld has invited some of his favourite artists to help shape the outlines of this world.
The way it looks, all of them were more than happy to provide him with an exclusive track for this sampler, which comes in a limited edition of 300 copies. The result is a strong line-up of almost excluisvely well-known names. Thus we find the omnipresent Aidan Baker alongside Dark Ambient masters NORTHAUNT and THO-SO-AA, TROUM and Martin Franklin’s TUU project, as well as a couple of contributions from musicians, who have been hiding under the surface just a little bit until now. As can be expected with regards of the scarcely vegetated, programmatic cryosphere, most have confined themselves to a minimum of musical elements in their pieces, as well as restricting dynamic movement – tracks remain either in the deeper end of the sonic spectrum (emphasising the threatening proportions of the landscape) or the upper region (describing its beauty). Glistening pads and drawn-out, shimmering chords are also part of almost each track, which lends the compilation a feeling of unity and coherence seldomly found on comparable releases. Thanks to the diversity of the artists and the source material involved, though, there are always enough subtle surprises to keep things interesting. Among a set of strong efforts, a few stand out simply for them being different: CLOSING THE ETERNITY use rugged impulses as metaphors for jagged rock silhouettes, THO-SO-AA’s “Cryotesk” relies on the use of a minimal melodic theme to great effect and TROUM’s “Giascei”, based on recordings of the mighty harbour of Bremen, floats casually over stretched-out planes, before shaking things up with some majestic blows of a huge gong and NETHERWORLD’s own composition, the ten minute long “Kryos”, is a whitely shining cloud of humming effects and faint choral clusters.
Each of the tracks is a little excursion on its own, the entire disc a deep journey full of subconscious self-references, which works on various levels: purists will be interested in how these entirely different approaches – Aidan Baker’s solo guitar, TROUM’s field recordings and glass- and plastic-treatments, NORTHAUNT’s processed piano or the “icewater sounds”/vibraphone and “hundreds of bells & chimes” employed by CLOSING THE ETERNITY – yield a perfect blend. And for the dreamers, this is a shamelessly romantic piece of heavenly escapism.
Cryosphere is released by Glacial Movements. The compilation contains 9 tracks created by CLOSING THE ETERNITY, NORTHAUNT, THO-SO-AA, LIGHTWAVE, TUU, TROUM, Aidan Baker, NETHERWORLD and OOPHOI. The artists use different recording techniques to sculpt an auditive image of a frozen desert, this image appears sometimes ominous and sometimes hopeful according to how its interpreter molds it. The tracks are varied in how they evolve and how they are made although they tackle the same theme. Cryosphere spans more than an hour during it displays a large set emotions. An interesting release that urges on to get a closer look at the participating artists.
"Cryosphere", a chock-full sampler featuring 9 tracks for almost 80 minutes of music, marks the debut of Alessandro Tedeschi (NETHERWORLD)'s new label Glacial Movements - you may have noticed that the recurring theme is ice, glaciers, vast frozen horizons etc. in the best tradition of Thomas Koener, BIOSPHERE, etc. None of the featured tracks is less than well-done, so fans of isolationist drones will surely have much to sink their teeth into. My personal favourites were Siberian CLOSING THE ETERNITY (authors of a superb 7" on Drone Records), THO-SO-AA (mostly working on menacing low rumbles) and landlord NETHERWORLD of course, who is brilliant and deep as always; but you can easily pick your own soundscape among those offered by NORTHAUNT, LIGHTWAVE, TUU, TROUM, Aidan Baker and OOPHOI. I wish a bright future to Tedeschi, and heartily recommend this to those even remotely interested in labels like Drone, Manifold, Mystery Sea and the likes.
I've just watched the "March of the penguins" DVD. Fascinating stuff. The story of the emperor penguin walking en mass in single file over hundreds of miles to its breeding grounds was rather touching. Great narration by Morgan Freeman. But I was left with one overall feeling. Why bother? To use all that energy to move from one piece of snow and ice to another identical piece of snow and ice when they could have just met and mated within half a mile of their original point seems a rather pointless exercise. The emperor penguin sure has shit for brains. Mother nature. What a bitch. The soundtrack to the movie sucked as well. The producers could have done a better job utilising some of the music to be found on this release as a backdrop to the endless scenes of penguins walking. And walking. And walking. A missed opportunity all round one feels. "Cryosphere" features 9 tracks by some of the best respected and up and coming artists in the whole ambient and drone genres. Featuring: CLOSING THE ETERNITY, NORTHAUNT, THO-SO-AA, LIGHTWAVE, TUU, TROUM, Aidan Baker, NETHERWORLD and OOPHOI the artists have contributed music that puts the listener right into the heart of the frozen Artic wastes. Each track a representation of the vast sub zero emptiness of this, mostly, unexplored land. The music is all about texture and emotive atmospheres, with the artists exploring different techniques to put this across. The listener is guided through rich minimalist pieces onto darker, starker desolate passages and far beyond through the use of inventive electronic patterns and resonating drones. The sense of unnerving isolation the common denominator that binds the music together. The cold winds blow and howl as the ice cracks, shifts and melts and the day / night cycle continues unabated. The music aurally painting incredible scenic landscapes, that are forever changing, for the listener to decipher at will. The majestic beauty of this inhospitable land laid bare for exploration through the power of imagination. "Cryosphere" is one of the few V/A releases I've reviewed where there are no stand-out tracks or participating artists. Each artist has produced excellent music in keeping with the overall theme of the piece. Each outstanding in their own right. Each diverse enough to be different but no less imaginative and invigorating. This is the first release by the appropriately named Glacial Movements record label and is limited to only 300 copies. If you seek music that inspires a sense of wonder then look no further. "Cryosphere" is the release for you.
Outside the summer seems to continue for a while. Inside the temperature is dropping as I’m listening to a chilling compilation. Cryosphere, the first release of Glacial Movements, is a “musical journey that transports the listener into glacial and unexplored lands where icebergs collide and where everything is frozen”. Nine artists were inspired by the glacial theme to produce fitting soundscapes, and they are not the least names in the ambient/drone scene: TROUM, OOPHOI, NORTHAUNT and THO-SO-AA are just some of the acts present. This compilation was already recommended to me a few times, and I can hear why, because the overall quality and sense of unity is exemplary. It’s an album to listen to with your eyes closed, and not once do you have to wake up because of a mediocre track.
Of course the artists follow different approaches. Some work with deep drones, endless and minimal, with only subtle manipulations, like the excellent piece by TROUM. Others use detailed samples and field recordings in a special collage, like the opening track by CLOSING THE ETERNITY. Some tracks have a floating, ethereal sound (TUU and Aidan Baker), while others sound darker and mysterious (THO-SO-AA, LIGHTWAVE). An excellent album that makes you drift off to an endless landscape of ice, which is unfortunately threatened in its existence.
Cryosphere is the first release out from the fledgling Glacial Movements records in the form of a CDr compilation spanning nine artists, nine tracks, and 79 minutes. As the title of the compilation implies, the compositions within reflect upon a common theme and inspiration from and by a frozen world. From icebergs, glaciers, frozen deserts of ice and snow, northern pack ice and Antarctic ice shelves, and sub-zero gales of wind, all have an equal place in this sonic vision of arctic desolation. All artists involved offer well composed cold ambient soundscapes, often varied in the means of composition (as detailed in the liner notes), ranging from soundscapes constructed completely through manipulation of field recordings, purely synthetic constructions, or highly manipulated electric guitar based drones. However as varied as the means of composition may be, all the soundscapes are united in theme, and within the compilation sit well beside each other as a coherent whole, even if each piece was created independently by a separate artist. There is no "bad" composition on this compilation. All are quite excellent and well conceived. However there are a few quite outstanding highlights worthy of note. NORTHAUNT, OOPHOI and the THO-SO-AA contributions have particularly memorable ambiance, but above those the highlight of the compilation in my opinion is Aidian Baker's "Beneath The Ice", as mentioned in the liner notes, created with only a digital four-track and an electric guitar, but with the enormous amount of texture, intricate layering, and the pure smoothness of it all, you would think that it was rather created with an enormous synthesizer program with endless amounts of multitracking, which the minimalism of the composition method renders the composition all that much more amazing. As a whole, Cryosphere offers a diverse selection of talent from many artists, and presents a very strong initial release for Glacial Movements Records. If they can keep up the same quality of material presented in future releases, they may well have a very promising future as a label.
Technically, "cryosphere" is the world in a frozen state, but Cryosphere the CD compilation is proclaimed to be (yet another) musical journey through frozen and unexplained lands. If feeling stoned without actually getting stoned is your thing, then this is your album, the first release from the Glacial Movements label, whose intent is to dedicate itself to depicting a frozen landscape through musical means. NETHERWORLD, the label founder, asked eight of his favorite artists to help him transform frozen tundra to aural icicles. And they were happy to comply. "Pulse of Iceilence" from CLOSING THE ETERNITY is your introduction to the album, starting off with cold rain hitting the ice below, leading into didgeridoos echoing throughout a cave of ice. THO-SO-AA's "Cryotesk" has very little melody and has the effect of wind blowing across the white wasteland. There are a few other effects, like a quiet beeping that reminds of the movie The Empire Strikes Back, at the beginning when the Rebel Forces were on the frozen planet Hoth, and that black droid was beeping along looking for clues. The track "Kryos," NETHERWORLD's contribution is the only track that didn't seem cold or have the icy theme the rest of the tracks had, instead giving the sense of something foreboding and menacing with a heavenly chorus in the background. Glacial Movements succeeded in creating a compilation that paints the picture of glaciers floating across the icy cold ocean. But it is questionable as to whether or not they will be able to keep to their idea of making this their goal with every album they produce.
If it were not know that Cryosphere (79'23") was an anthology of various artists, one would think that its tracks were all by the same musician. So sharp is the focus on the premise upon which this CD is based, the nine artists involved seem as one in their aural portrayal of penetratingly cold boreal lands. The music here is sometimes as harsh as the tundral climate which inspired it, yet equally wondrous in its vast and slowly changing, minimalist landscape. Works by Lightwave, Tuu, Oophoi, Netherworld and five others comprise this disc. Their hybrid electronic realizations swirl and shift in a timbral restlessness and draws upon imagery of arctic desolation, the capabilities of music technology, and sonic invention. Dark drones, slowly moving pads, strange modulations, an evolving tonal ambiguity, and the constant morphing of one sound into another provide Cryosphere with an icy calm and achieves a superior level of stylistic innovation. The music is quietly epic while exquisitely bleak, and crafts a fascinating and integrated sound picture.
From Italy comes this entry in the perilous world isolationist ambient. I say perilous because communicating a sense of solitude, loneliness or the emptiness of a strange land without emotionally shutting down is not easy. Cryosphere offers nine landscaped tracks, generally dark and and often dissonant with one or two exceptions like Aidan Baker's luminous "Beneath The Ice". Brian Eno's seminal album On Land (1982) continues to echo throughout the genre more than 20 years on, its legacy detectable here on more than one piece including LIGHTWAVE's brooding "Proxima Thule". This is environmental drone music that emphasises texture much more than tonality. That of course leave little harmonically or melodically to lock onto, makng it very unlike the sonorous environmental mindscapes of DIATONIS or David Parsons. If find this a little too cold - emotionally - but intelligence and care define the contents and it's a credible entry in the genre
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As we all know, a glacier is a huge formation of ice which moves very, very slowly - global warming notwithstanding. "Arctic ambient" is a genre that has its roots in (primarily but far from solely) Norwegian ambient of the late nineties and the specific musicians first heaving into sight at that time, with Thomas Koner from Germany and Norwegian BIOSPHERE head and shoulders above the rest. The label Beatservice championed the genre from an early stage and provided it with numerous showcases before edging over into more dance-oriented electronics.
The metaphors describing the feel evoked by successful purveyors of the genre are well-known and well-worn by now: icy landscapes, the dark standstill of the winter solstice (far more often than the relentless daytime of the same region?s midnight sun), naught but silence save for the shifting of the very landscape itself; all is peaceful and primeaval and minimalistic.
Glacial Movements is a new Italian label intent on shouldering the mantle of protecting Arctic ambient and providing it with a healthy and thriving sanctuary. Cryosphere is its first, limited edition showcase, judiciously combining veteran and newcomer into a frosty, seamless whole. Label founder Netherworld has invited some of his favourite artists to help delineate the outlines of this world.
With a name quite unbefitting the opening of a collection, CLOSING THE ETERNITY (fittingly based, however, in Siberia) start things off with a thousand tiny bells echoing over the lifeless expanse. NORTHAUNT, on the other hand, sound as if they spent their six minutes below the tree line, high atop a soughing coniferous forest whipped by freezing winds.
With the constant beeping of what could be imagined to be a sped-up radar, THO-SO-AA?s "Cryotesk" gives the impression of tracking something. Or, more ominously, of being tracked. LIGHTWAVE?s entry is more immersive, delving deep down into the still waters far below the meters of thick opaque ice. The steady aesthetic and skill of old ambient hand Tuu perversely supplies the warmest track on Cryosphere, with some seven minutes of shifting minimalism entitled "Silent Writing", while another veteran, TROUM, truly emulates the sound of glacial movement with the very "concrete-feeling" "Glascei", creaking and groaning across the landscape in a manner most reminiscent of the classic Isolationism (Lustmord, Robert Rich et. al.) that first calved this genre.
Aidan Baker offers a work of great beauty, like some organ playing in a distant cathedral of ice, though it was created using Baker?s stock-in-trade electric guitar and digital four-track. His droneworld is a truly remarkable one, as much of his prolific production has already revealed. NETHERWORLD?s own contribution, "Kryos", is a super-minimal soundscape constructed from field recordings, "old gates", synthesizers and samples. Finally, OOPHOI (who usually places an umlaut over the second "o", and has also mastered this fellow Italian?s compilation), a recognized master of minimal ambient both warm and cold, ends our excursion on a lonesome, sorrowful note.
As with all really well-curated compilations, the whole is greater than its constituent parts. Immaculately woven together over almost the full eighty minutes a CD can contain, Cryosphere bodes well for the future of Arctic soundscaping.
Collecting nine international artists/groups, this album presents “a musical journey that transports the listener into glacial and unexplored lands where icebergs collide and where everything is frozen”, according to its booklet’s proclamation. And, yes, from CLOSING THE ETERNITY’s ‘Pulse of Iceilence’ onwards, we’re pretty much treated to some lengthy meldings of Arctic shimmer, spacey swirl and soft drone-saturated pieces that are notable mostly for the fact they sound like the workings of only one mind. All the same, there’s some nice stuff on offer here, such as THO-SO-AA’s pleasantly bleep-filled ‘Crotesk’, TROUM’s Bremen harbour-utilising ‘Giascei’, and Canadian Aidan Baker’s processed guitar-based ‘Beneath the Ice’. Complete with contributions also from LIGHTWAVE, TUU, NETHERWORLD and others, Cryosphere creates a satisfying atmosphere thankfully falling nearer BIOSPHERE or Thomas Koner’s recordings than any hammy ‘dark ambient’ drivel. As both a concept in itself and a statement of intent for this new label, it at least appears promising enough from my admittedly rather humble vantage point, anyway.
For those viewers creeped out by the wintry claustrophobia of films like Kubrick’s The Shining and Carpenter’s The Thing, but unable to effectively recreate the mood by being fortunate enough to track down their ultra-rare corresponding soundtracks, Glacial Movements may just have provided a remedy in the form of their new compilation. The label, which professes to specialize in “glacial and isolationist ambient,” has issued their first release, Cryosphere, a collection of nine lengthy, cold ambient tracks clocking in at almost 80 minutes. The collection is designed to evoke the isolation and bitter chill of winter with these arctic soundscapes that, in keeping with the album’s theme, are suitably icy, wind-blasted, and sure to raise gooseflesh on even the most thick-skinned, jaded listener.
The record’s initial tone is set with two noise-based pieces from CLOSING THE ETERNITY and NORTHAUNT, respectively. These two tracks, although atmospheric in their own right, are arguably the most abrasive pieces on Cryosphere and establish an appropriately bleak mood with their jarring shards of sound, calling to mind — particularly on the album’s opener, “Pulse of Iceilence” — images of a ship grinding to a full stop as it capsizes against an iceberg. THO-SO-AA’s “Cryotesk” steers the album into considerably eerier territory with its cavernous, chant-like drones and gentle pulses of electronics struggling to be heard over dense, desolate waves of sound that wax and wane, creating a sense of oppression that intermittently ebbs in intensity. Similarly, LIGHTWAVE’s “Proxima Thule” is structured around dark, monolithic drones punctuated with high-end whines of feedback and spooky metallic scrapings echoing forth from the darkness. The shapes and textures of the track shift and modulate to create a sort of deep-sea ambience that suggests the sonar pings and undersea reverberations of a submarine resting on the ocean floor and gradually collapsing in upon itself.
TUU’s “Silent Writing” is an extraordinary track employing some particularly uneasy, borderline disturbing electronic keyboards that summon forth an ominous, brooding resonance that is truly the stuff of nightmares. TROUM’s “Giascei” is another nightmarish track based around digitally manipulated mechanical sounds, resulting in a dourly compelling arrangement. The piece is a frigid, crumbling work suggestive of a windswept, Lovecraftian Antarctic landscape populated by shambling, colossal creatures inching menacingly toward us as our legs remain firmly rooted in the ice, unable to transport us to safety.
Cryosphere’s foreboding aura is offset somewhat by Aidan Baker’s aptly titled “Beneath the Ice,” a track colored with ice-blue submarine hues and replete with aquatic atmospherics. The album’s two closing tracks, NETHERWORLD’s “Kryos” and OOPHOI’s “Cold Sun,” are fittingly bleak pieces redolent of the deepest cold of space and evoking images of ice-capped planetary surfaces light years away from the nearest heat source. The frozen echoes of “Cold Sun,” for example, suggest a crippled spacecraft adrift in the cosmos for eternity. Cryosphere is a remarkably cohesive and well-sequenced collection of dark-but-diamantine ambient music that is best suited for contemplative headphone settings. Alternating between the cinematic and the claustrophobic, these pieces, if they don’t trigger a mild case of cabin fever, will transport the listener to a vast, otherworldly wilderness of snow and frozen wastes, rich in atmosphere and impressive to behold.
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 (jaw'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 Koner, MAIN and BIOSPHERE and featured on the 1994 Virgin compilation "Ambient 4: Isolationism".
Glacial Movements is a new label based in Italy specialising in atmospheric ambient music and Cryosphere acts as an introduction to their style and musical ethics. Compiled from a series of quite lengthy tracks, Cryosphere explores the imagery, tone and presence created by a range of mostly unknown artists such as LIGHTWAVE, NORTHAUNT, TUU and OOPHOI alongside better known names such as Aidan Baker and TROUM. Glacial Movements’ label head NETHERWORLD also contributes a track.
Billed on their website as “glacial and isolationist ambient”, it doesn’t take long to see where that tag came from. NORTHAUNT’s “Crocker Land” fits this theme perfectly; windswept, expansive, unrushed and beautiful. Although this music is distinctly icy in tone it is also gentle and visceral, slowly enveloping you in its imagery and cold invigorating tones. This whole mood permeates through the album, sometimes venturing down darker more ominous paths but always steady and restrained, letting the full picture slowly unfold to the listener. You might not find rhythms or beats in this music but it doesn’t need it, it is all about atmosphere and imagery. A track such as “Cryotesk” by THO-SO-AA for example is so fluid and serene, even the deep creeping bassy tones and insistently anxious bleeps can’t distract from the languid droning texture that flows throughout. LIGHTWAVE’s “Proxima Thule” is the first of the tracks to head in a darker direction, adding some hi-tech almost glitchy effects and flooding the fluid backdrop with a tense cinematic air of foreboding. This mood is carried through to “Silent Writing” by TUU who use low bassy drones and minimal synth tones to create a spacious wilderness of sound that could be beautiful or threatening depending on your interpretation. TROUM’s “Giascei” however opts for epic rumbles and mammoth groans alongside tiny microscopic sounds that build tense atmosphere as if warning of an approaching alien swarm in a remote polar wasteland. It is left to Aidan Baker to lift the mood with the gently drifting “Beneath the Ice”, a track with an optimistic outlook and positive radiance that ends in a slightly more sinister tone. NETHERWORLD, the mysterious label head of Glacial Movements, contributes “Kryos”, a track with a melancholy icy feel and the occasional huge bassy boom.
Cryosphere is an interesting album in that it is primarily a serene well-crafted compilation of floating ambient tracks but there is also an almost hidden dark undercurrent of impending terror. It is almost like an expedition to a remote polar wasteland that is being stalked by danger unknown. A slightly sinister tone underlies the tracks as if watching and waiting for an opportunity to reveal itself. In that respect it is very cinematic and atmospheric, adding hidden depth to the justly tagged “glacial and isolationist” nature of the music.
The debut release of this new label is a sampler dedicated to the purest forms of soundscapes music. As it’s claimed on the cover, “Cryosphere” want to be a musical journey that transports the listener into glacial and unexplored lands where icebergs collide and where everything is frozen. 9 bands have been selected to recreate this frozen feeling of ambient moods. Among the most familiar project I noticed NORTHAUNT, TROUM, NETHERWORLD and OOPHOI, but the list has been completed by CLOSING THE ETERNITY, THO-SO-AA, LIGHTWAVE, TUU and Aidan Baker. All bands invite us to join them unto pure cold soundscapes appealing for the listener’s imagination. CLOSING THE ETERNITY and TUU are both the best stimulators for my alerted imagination. I’m like entering a nihilistic universe of eternal darkness created by the only power of ambient sound!
Cryosphere is the first frozen fruits of this new ambient label who as their name Glacial Movements suggests are offering up sound worlds which are meant to bring to mind frozen and deserted expanses. This compilation brings together some know names like TROUM and THO-SO-AA, and some not so know names.
The quality is fairly variable going from very effective to ambient sound scapeing by numbers, though there’s enough here to make it worth wild. In all there are nine tracks lasting between six and eleven minutes a piece. Some of the stand out moments to me would be; Northaunts who with their track crockery land bring to mind slowly been surrounding arctic vastness and loneliness, with a mix of swirling artic winds and melodic/haunted drone craft. It brings to mind walk across vast artic dunes the sun just coming up and setting the snow to twinkle. You feel like you could shout and shout and never be heard. Aidan Baker's Beneath the ice with its calmly growing and building harmonic icy tones brings to my mind nearing the beautiful Aurora Borealis thats dancing above vast snow mounts, slowly become more and more part of the colours.
An interesting opening release from this label, which will hopeful be able to build on the whole glacial isolation theme and vibe.
Cryosphere is the inaugural release of Glacial Movements, a fledgling label-project curated by Alessandro Tedeschi, one of a shadowy band of isolation-ambient droners scattered through Europe. As Netherworld, Tedeschi has released on Oophoi’s Umbra/Penumbra imprint, also collaborating with the Deep Listening maven himself. Here compiled are nine artists whose approaches are homogeneous yet individually voiced; from veterans like erstwhile ritual ambienteers TUU and guitar-wrangling drone-anists Troum to relative unknowns CLOSING THE ETERNITY and THO-SO-AA. Predictably, Cryosphere is an album of ice-floe drift and polar ooze, for Glacial’s mission statement is explicitly to “transport[s] the listener into glacial and unexplored lands where icebergs collide and where everything is frozen.” So we have here a document of chthonic minimalist soundscapes and deep-drone seclusion, of dark ambient, yes, though with goth-gloom (cf., Cold Meat Industries) and gore-core (cf., Malignant) gratifyingly withheld.
Siberians CLOSING THE ETERNITY launch out with “Pulse of Iceilence,” sur-realized with something vibraphoney that has you hypothermically adrift, beset by chiming and rumbling, buzzing and dark trickling icewater. NORTHAUNT’s “Crocker Land” is one of endless vistas of tundra and frozen wastes interspersed with abyssal yawnings, its harmonized droning akin to BIOSPHERE stretched out in a wind-tunnel. THO-SO-AA’s “Cryotesk” carries a submerged menace, distant sounds fleeting, found sounds swimming up, chthonic rumble, sonar-tones, enshrouded in reverberant mist. LIGHTWAVE and TUU ghost in too, with their own versions of slow-shift minimalism. TROUM take field recordings harvested from Bremen harbor and fold their reverberant time-stretched implosions into glass singings. Possibly the most literal-mindedly representative of all the pieces herein, their “Giascei” is 12-minutes of desolate drift, attended by creaks, groans, and thumps, recalling the lost sub-lull of NWW's Salt Marie Celeste. Aidan Baker satisfies himself with guitar alone, and it’s plenty, as he layers it from wisps of gossamer crepuscularity, slowly swelling, with striations of ever more chimes and blurs of motifs, into a complex weave of plate-shifting textures; he makes of “Beneath the Ice” what sounds a denser more active derivation from Roach’s dusky Midnight Moon fretymology. NETHERWORLD himself proposes “Kryos,” an eldritch depths-sounding on which he notably plays “old gates” (!). Finally the Lord of Nu-Dark-Age himself, OOPHOI, proposes “Cold Sun,” a long slow crawl of textured rumble through elemental frozen arcana. Ultimately more stark than dark, Cryosphere evokes wan light, ashen haze, and lost horizons glinting in boreal dawn. An expertly rendered compendium of extreme remotion in the most vivid of monochrome—Big chill
A collection of soundscapes based around the concept of glacial lands and icebergs, Cryosphere is a collective effort from nine sound artists, composers and isolationists including Aidan Baker, NETHERWORLD, LIGHTWAVE and TUU. Hardly household names, but the attention to detail and intricate atmospherics on display here should by all rights establish them as some of the finest explorers in the field. Most of the compositions here are fascinating, and while each artist brings something different to the table - icewater sounds, vibraphone, synths and bells from CLOSING THE ETERNITY's opening piece, drones and Hi-frequency sculpting courtesy of NORTHAUNT, manipulated field recordings from NETHERWORLD - the whole endeavour is an extremely cohesive mammoth, 79-minute-plus soundtrack to glacial movements and desolate landscapes. Variously haunting, depressing and gentle, this is isolationist/formless ambient of the highest order.