Atrium Carceri – The Old City OST released
NECROWEB ( german )
Wenn sich die Musiker von Atrium Carceri und Eldar zusammenschließen, um eine musikalische Kooperation abzuliefern, dann dürften die Erwartungen diesbezüglich nicht zu Unrecht ziemlich hoch ausfallen. Und in der Tat ist das Gebotene auf “Sacrosanct” richtig starke Kost, aber hat man etwas anderes erwartet? Eigentlich nicht, und so gilt es, sich verzaubern zu lassen, von schaurig schönen Klangsphären, mit denen es mühelos gelingt, dem Alltag ein Schnäppchen zu schlagen.
Unbestritten lässt sich dabei die Handschrift von Simon Heath herauslesen, wobei aber unbedingt angemerkt werden muss, dass die gebotene Zusammenarbeit wirklich perfekt miteinander harmoniert. Man ergänzt sich auf wundersame Art und Weise und webt in die düsteren Vertonungen so manch leckere Angelegenheit, welche das Ergebnis über lange Zeit am Leben hält.
So ziert “So They Speak” ein schönes melancholisches Klavierspiel, welches zudem bei anderen Umsetzungen immer wieder mal durch die finsteren Schwaden bricht und dem Ganzen eine ansprechende Note verleiht.
Obschon dem Opener dabei noch nicht so richtig die zu erwartende Atmosphäre entfleucht, wird sich dies jedoch bald schon ändern. Alsbald gesellt sich dann mehr oder weniger starkes Pulsieren hinzu und “Sacrosanct” entfaltet seine ganze Wirkung.
Obwohl manche Darbietungen einen doch ziemlich ruhigen Charakter innehaben, sind diese aber keinesfalls weniger einnehmend; eines der absoluten Paradestücke dürfte allerdings “Sold” verkörpern, geprägt von schon fast treibender dumpfer Percussion.
Wer sich hier die Zeit nimmt, der wird mit Begeisterung viel Interessantes finden, was “Sacrosanct” eben auch zu etwas Besonderem macht und eindrucksvoll aufzeigt, wie starke Kooperationen zu klingen haben.
Was bleibt, ist ein perfektes Werk, welches unbedingt seinen Platz in jeder gepflegten Dark Ambient Sammlung haben sollte und auch als regulärer Silberling über Infinite Fog Productions angeboten wird.
The new album from this swedish outfit has been constructed, for author’s choice, exclusively for digital release so the purity of sonic experience is supposed to be above all consideration. Apart for the usual track-by-track commentary and overall judgement it’s necessary to state the impressive sonic experience of this release: it’s one of the best well-sounding release I’ve heard this year. In this position category as novelty or experimentation has any citizenship as all the aesthetical work is done on the formal side of the musical output.
“Dear Diary” is the intro of the release made out of filtered spoken word and a soundscape. “Humanity’s Cradle” is based upon small and continuously moving small noises creating an evocative mood that continues with the next track: “A Curved Blade”. “Reselected” starts with cinematic noises that are colored with a slowly developing line of piano and synth as “Victorian Meltdown” that, instead, ends with a quiet line of piano and some small sinusoidal noises. “Passage” and “Endless Deep” are classic track of the dark ambient genre typical of the author while “Debt”, the longest track of this release, is a constant changing stating from the first cinematic part to the ethereal of the second and the last noisier part. “Trembling” starts quietly and ends in darker territories while “Slower” is a drone intro to a dreamy line of synth. “Ancient Past” is a dark ambient soundscape whose final line of piano serves as an introduction to the last track of this album: “Reap” a short and quiet track giving a sort of rest to this musical journey.
Honestly this is not a release that will be considered as a milestone in the history of dark ambient, however, in times where release are done with some superficiality in the technical output, this will be considered as one of the best release of the year. A must for all fans of the genre..
Here is the seventh album by the well respected Simon Heath; spanning 19 tracks, we once again have a real treat on our hands with impressive Dark Ambient, cleverly wrapped and woven into a mass of free flowing underground atmospherics.
‘Unveiled’ gives us gorgeous ice like piano and is a stand out moment, along with ‘Knowledge of the Few’, utilising harmonies that float along in soundtrack form over a sea of gently padded bass, with machine like whirs that click in the atmosphere in between.
Heath is a master of variation; in a scene that can quite often become bogged down in the blackest of paths, he manages to reign in the oppressive beast and tames it with ingenious mastery; adding his own individual flair for precise flickers of sound, he creates an entirely different aural landscape that remains as threatening as much as it does beautiful and majestic.
‘Reliquiae’ is a glorious release; a thoroughly engaging affair, with more than its fair share of nooks and crannies to explore. Seven is a lucky number for us as well, as Heath has once again delivered the goods, outshining many of the scenes greatest; one of the best Dark Ambient acts on the market with more to offer than the genre tag implies.
SANTA SANGRE MAGAZINE
After two years of expectancy since the previous ATRIUM CARCERI album, “Phrenitis” (CMI, 2009), Simon Heath returns with yet another masterpiece of atmospheric, otherworldly dark ambient. Loyal to his meticulous vision of an environment just abstract enough, that could be located somewhere on a distant planet, or here on Earth in a not so distant future. Like a prophet of doom, he populates his post-apocalyptic landscapes with elements ranging from ancient deities and occult rituals to underground tunnels, spectral figures and wasted deserts of abandoned cities, silent witnesses of a civilization long delivered into the dust of ages.
“Reliquiae” adds a few more building blocks to this majestic structure, thus furthering the concept and music. A female deity holds sway over the citadel, and the recording describes the journey of the acolyte to reach her knowledge and experience. He is initiated by the adepts, his body and mind are submitted to the necessary alterations. He receives the blessing of the Goddess and is led through the underground tunnels, to the “Factory Of Souls”. After the truth has been discovered perception of the Creator/Demiurge can be disassembled, leaving only the reality of the one true deity, initially veiled but now revealed in all her divine magnificence. That is merely my interpretation of the story. ATRIUM CARCERI however belongs to my favourite brand of ambient artists, the ones that create a complete concept and give you just enough clues to get entirely absorbed in their environment, but also allow for the imagination to fill in the gaps. This is undeniably the case here, and for the listeners who happen to be acquainted with ATRIUM CARCERI’s previous work, the ability to introduce so many new components to the world we have already imagined is an added pleasure.
“Reliquiae” retains the melancholic, eerie tone that is a trademark of the project. The sounds reach us from afar, maintaining at all times the feeling of something precious and significant manifesting before our eyes. An antique music box, the functions of which we accidentally triggered in our exploration of this strangely familiar domain. Haunting piano melodies and atmospheric synths fall heavily among suffocating drones, hollow percussions and metallic sounds. In many occasions all of these elements are combined with expert skill, for instance in “Manufactured Minds” where the repetitive, menacing rhythms are blended with the mournful piano repeating the same monotone, obsessive sequence. Or in “The Long Walk”, where the portentous, escalating dark ambient sequences are pierced by persistent drones.
In other tracks, such as “Through The Tunnels”, “A Factory of Souls” and “Recovering Fragments” the organic, almost tangible malevolence of the created atmospheres chills the blood. A cold, merciless ritual magnificence can be discerned instead in “Truth Revealed”, “Portal Key” or “Synchronization” (my personal favourite along with “Unveiled”), where the sombre melody of neoclassical strings briefly breaks through the hieratic, graceful organic space/dark ambient of the rest of the track. And of course, the biggest surprise of the album, “Godess”, a completely ritual track of the darkest of timbres, mixing male and female chants in a spine-chilling incantation. The male voice is demonic just as the female voice is angelic, and as the listener is utterly mesmerized by the incantation, the acolyte’s attainment is achieved. He is now one with the deity.
In this recording the vision of ATRIUM CARCERI is once again perfected, while the term “cinematic dark ambient” that is often used to describe its music is fully justified. Suggestive horror, agonizing emotions, imposing landscapes, obscene rituals and furtive appearances of vaguely shaped creatures, assemble to form a claustrophobic, asphyxiating world. One that exercises a strange, irresistible charm. Dressed with admirable compositional and technical skill and truly wonderful music that defies boundaries or expectations, “Reliquiae” is the product of an undoubtedly charismatic artist. I cannot recommend it enough.
SPUTNIK MUSIC – MANIAC
I love dark, scary music. Is that strange? Perhaps it is, but that kind of music has a way of showing beauty that you can’t find in most other music. Take Atrium Carceri’s album, Phrenitis, for example. It is a beautifully composed dark ambient album. It is dark, of course, but that is just one component of the music. It takes you on a journey. You don’t know where it is taking you, but it is very obvious that it wants you to go somewhere.
Phrenitis isn’t exactly minimalist music. It pulls out all the stops to create a mood, to create an atmosphere. It doesn’t drone and drone to get its point across. Instead, it builds upon itself, song after song. It becomes increasingly complex. It starts out with an enveloping dark ambience, but develops one piece at a time. Some noisy fuzz here, some piano strokes there, until you hit the sixth track, Eraser, and finally realize that Phrenitis already has a hold on you and isn’t planning to let go any time soon. You’re already halfway through the journey and you’ve no idea what hit you.
Upon arriving to the track, Eraser, Phrenitis begins a transitional phase. You are washed over with fuzz, faint and distance piano keystrokes, but it’s not scaring you. In fact it sounds more like an expression of loss or sadness. The slow, methodical piano strokes and the buzzing come together to create a mood that is complex, but intriguing. Eraser continues this hypnotic affair for the whole first half of the song. It is only then that the pianos are no longer distant. Instead, they are playing directly to you. Maybe you’ve found what Phrenitis was trying to show you. Or maybe it has found you. The hypnotic pianos continue until they again, fall back to the slow, overwhelming fuzz in the distance. Whatever was stirring those beautiful piano chords is gone. Now it has been replaced with an urgent and ominous swelling of dark noise. You can’t discern what is going on, but you know that it does not sound promising. That’s too bad for you because Phrenitis is not letting you go anywhere. Now you are stuck in the dark, surrounded by the sounds of wind chimes and the presence of something you can only assume is evil.
Eraser comes to a close, and all becomes quiet, at least… for a second or two. Phrenitis is not finished with you yet. You hear some rattling, some scratching, and some loud clanging out in the distance. The wind is subtly whistling around you while the clanging and rattling get closer and louder. You are then surprised to hear the pianos suddenly come back, as though they were rescuing you. They are bright, yet sad. They seem to be leading you away from the darkness that would have surely swallowed you. You follow along with the bright and kind pianos, until they desert you once again. Swiftly and without warning, they are ripped from your presence. All that’s left is you and an odd sounding static. You listen, but there’s nothing but the void out there. Strange noises begin to form. However they are not the rattling, or scratching, or whistling before. They sound like voices, but you can’t understand them. It’s all distorted and faded out in the distance.
You are continuing on this dark journey, with no idea what is going on around you. Drums and chanting out in the distance are the only things drowning out the static that surrounds you. The journey continues until the song, The Way Back, where you seem to be rescued again by those beautiful pianos. They absolve any sense of evil or darkness that once threatened you. Those pianos become your security as you know that there is something looking out for you in this dangerous piece of music. The pianos care about you. They have put you back on the safe path where you continue out your journey until you return safely to where you started. What just happened?
You can’t really go wrong with Ambient, but those who extensively listen to the genre know what to look for as far as good and bad is concerned. One of the bands that really caught my attention recently was Sweden’s Atrium Carceri. The band’s name which means “Prison’s Hall” was created by Simon Heath; who has previously released 5 other albums including this album on dark ambient/industrial label Cold Meat Industry. Now on “Phrenitis” the band paints a horrifying picture that is almost disturbing but also has a sense of emotion. Relying on the use of keyboards, sound effects, samples, haunting rhythms and other instrumentation Heath paints a picture of haunting vision of the end times; this is best heard in the tracks “Surfacing”, “Hypnosis”, and “Eraser”. This particular album could be best described as an audio interpretation of the movies “Silent Hill” and “28 Days Later” with an undertone that is haunting and apocalyptic, yet beautiful and exquisite at the same time. Phrenitis speaks to the listener in a way that a lot of ambient releases don’t. I guess the union of horror and emotion really do work at times. On this particular release I must say it does. I recommend checking out Atrium’s previous releases as you’ll definitely see the progression from album to album. I end this review of the album with my own interpretation “As the world crumbles to the ground, my soul remains infinite”.
GOTHTRONIC – FABIAN
And then it was time again for Atrium Carceri. It becomes a habit of him now to release an album every year, with the exception of 2006, but in that year a track of him was featured in the ‘All My Dead Friends’ CMI compilation album. I haven’t quite followed him throughout the years, but I was very impressed with his second work ‘Seishinbyouin’, which still is one of my favorite of the ‘newer’ CMI releases. That album was full of great sound-worlds with real depth and culminated in a perfect ending. Now we have a new album, his fifth, by the good man, which is called ‘Souyuan’. This word loosely translates as Judgment Day, Apocalypse. The word “Sou” means to collect and the word “Yuan” means cycle, to round off or complete. Those two words taken together can be translated to reclaim or to absolve and judge. Et voila. This new release is regarded very high, to say the least, by the label itself, and I’m quoting: “ Never before has the artists innermost recesses been so sublimely conveyed to any medium.” And with “the artist” I do hope they refer only to Simon Heath, the man behind Atrium Carceri, and not to artists in general, because that would be a rather bold statement. Anyway, this album sure is good as hell! Atrium Carceri was always one of the better newer CMI dark-ambient acts. His work is extremely cinematic and you can really feel the sonic spaces he creates. Though this album has the Carceri sound written all over it, it’s also a bit different. There is a fair share of rhythmic structures to be found, which isn’t strange with his work, but somehow it feels different. The sounds are more experimental and subliminal, with an occasional IDM-like approach. And it also has a more industrial feel than the other releases. The total atmosphere is like being in a disturbing asylum, like ‘Seishinbyouin’. Supposedly he did about three years to create this work, also with the aid of test listeners and observing their reactions. This seems a somewhat unusual process, but if it’s true it sure did work! The sound is very scary with a lot of things happening in the background. And it’s again an album where the musician behind it all is also a great storyteller; it does really feel that it’s going somewhere, not just mere sounds, just like his other albums. A sonic movie of sorts. Atrium Carceri has created an amazing album again. It’s really the equivalent of a movie without images. It all sound perfect and clean. It has to be listened to a couple of times to hear all that is going on. An essential album for the dark-ambient connoisseur.
I first heard the music of Simon Heath through his work with the band Za Frûmi; dark atmospheric music with fantasy themes and vocals in black speech, the language of Mordor. I listened to this quite a bit and found it to be perfect background music while playing RPG:s. This is however my first impression of his solo project, even though “Souyuan” is the fifth album under the Atrium Carceri moniker. Atrium Carceri has an industrial atmosphere while still remaining in the dark ambient genre. Here the soundscapes are created with synthesizers and mostly without vocals. It’s slow, quite hard but still manages to remain beautiful despite a black theme. While a lot of music in this genre easily fall into to the trap of creating layer after layer with sounds, turning it all into a mess, you really can tell that Heath is a good song writer. At first, I listen through my stereo and the music fills my room and always seems to be ready for an outburst with noise, but instead the force is held back and then it slowly slips out. I stay alert, wondering what will happen next. And just when I think that the crescendo will come, the music fades away instead. The subtle use of samples make them fit in perfectly and when I put my headphones on I find even more to explore in this musical landscape. During the last years I have taken the first steps into the world of ambient, industrial and noise music; once again the amazing label Cold Meat Industry takes my hand through this journey. While I sometimes find stuff that makes me give up and turn back, they always seem to keep me going forward with high quality acts like Atrium Carceri.
GOTHTRONIC – REMCO
“What”, I screamed out loud when I found the new Atrium Carceri CD on my doorstep this week. “A new Atrium Carceri CD. Already!” In my memory Kapnobatai is only a few months old. Is time really going that fast? Time is plunging us into a void; it leads us on a path towards the abyss of death. The only thing that can comfort us is Ptahil for example, the new Atrium Carceri CD. This is another stunning album by Simon Heath. Ptahil takes you one more step beyond the boundaries of mortality. Dark evolving ambient. In 13 tracks Atrium Carceri takes you along the shadows of existence, tracks full of melancholy, sorrow and grief. Ptahil is the demiurge of the physical universe in Mandaean mythology, but was not able to furnish man with a soul. The world he created was a dark place. Ptahil’s father Abatur gave Manda d Hiia order to give man sacred wisdom. This enrages ptahil, who dislikes Abatur giving a degree of control of his own creatures to someone else, and complains bitterly to Hibil Ziwa the head of the Mandaean pantheon. Quarantine is the melancholic opener of Ptahil, dark but heavenly, beautifully sung by Antonia Simonovic. Then Simon takes you further down the entrance of his wretched world. From here on nothing is heavenly. The keeper of “Entrance” grins at you hatefully. Desolate slow motion melodies enclosing you tightly. Slow rhythms, bitter melodies and complex textures are ingredients to this atmospheric album. Ambient mixed with ritualistic and filmic fragments. You are being dragged down by depression of man. Ptahils’s universe is morbid but painfully beautiful. Simon makes this universe to something where demons dance. Music somewhere between Sephiroth and Raison d’ Etre. This exactly sounds as a Cold Meat album should sound like. Deep, dark and oppressively hypnotizing. A hallucinogenic journey through someone else nightmares.
Atrium Carceri, one of Sweden’s best dark ambient acts in existence, in my opinion at least, strike back with their new heavily concept-based, ensnaring, unrestful creation. Ptahil in the Mandaean cosmogony is one of the three beings responsible for the creation of the universe. A very fitting name, as this is exactly what every Atrium Carceri release does, it dips its fingers into the primordial clay of the unconscious, of the dream shapes, the outer planes, and haphazardly finds there the material to create a new universe, out of what originally appears to be non-existent, unknown, and perhaps a little frightening. So the best way to assimilate this experience is to fall into a somewhat meditative state, forgetting everything related to everyday life, and to let this curious deity carry you in a journey through its newly acquired domain. After a while the images take form spontaneously, naturally, and if they are enough they might even complete a piece of the puzzle. If not, the general idea is still enough to be fascinating. Taking the first steps in this virgin landscape, a female voice invites us further in, in a foreign language, with a melancholic yet appealing chant – it sounds Slavic but truth be told, I couldn’t recognize the language. The chant has a deeply ritual, religious character. As it vibrates, intensifying, organic sounds are introduced and we are led inwards with thumping beats, crackling sounds and horrifying whispers, by all kinds of creatures residing in the shadowy corners of this corridor we are traversing. Shadows made more intense by the scarce rays of light that fall on the rusted, metal doors and walls. As we proceed someone laughs ironically, at our slow realization of the kind of place we are in. The doors extend some distance away on both sides of the hallway, patterns of rust and mould forming on their surfaces. Faint moans heard from the inside, insinuate the suffering, the modifications taking place in each of the cells. It feels familiar, somewhere we have wandered many times, many centuries, many lifetimes ago. Perhaps somewhere we are wandering still, where we have left a significant part of us. “A Place To Call Home”. Reaching the end of the corridor, we find ourselves in a spacious, circular room, the only light emanating from a circular opening on the ceiling, forming a column of light in its middle. A moody, isolated melody greets us along with mechanical rhythmic sounds in the background, expressing the familiarity of the landscape intensely, persistently, and irresistibly. Nostalgic and calm, it stops to give its place to a ritualistic outline, enriched with organic sounds, drones and pulsating beats, maintaining the calmness and assisting towards an initial enlightenment. We kneel on the floor and look into the light, feeling the tangible darkness around us, and hear the voices of the past in our mind, whispering half-truths, lies, revealing just enough to make us want to go further. Into the “Observatory” then, a patchwork of activities taking place in the sanctuary, a small, stuffy room comprised almost entirely of screens connected to one another, randomly transmitting images of experiments, presences, buildings, rituals, untrodden paths and highways on the upper levels, once the heart of the domain but now unused, dusted, collapsing. The merging of time and science. “Your questions will all be answered in time”, a deep, hard male voice informs us, as we are trying to make sense of the images we see. He explains, while we overcome the preliminary shock and begin to see things with a different perspective, not so much as atrocities but more as necessary interference. We leave the room and wander awhile in the passageways, the smell of rust reaching our nostrils, the dampness and stifling, underground air permeating our every sense. The Memory Leak takes place then, a short, cheerless piano melody, recovering recollections of an early childhood, of the times when the Citadel was a place of innocence, and children used to play and enjoy themselves carelessly on the upper regions. In the whole recording the idea of the melody is linked to that of the reminiscence, like drops of strong medicine, administered in small, intermittent dosages. Reincarnation Chamber is a harsh ritualistic track, consisting mainly of moans and whispers, an unbiased presentation of the emanating battle between the different personalities in one existence, perhaps. The extremely painful procedure of revival, or toiling through a mundane existence, the aching, agonizing effort of the consciousness, to break through its walls and barriers, overcome the pain, and be reborn. After that the Path Through Remembrance is clear, our unmarked existence allows us to browse freely through our terrible past, to see what we were, and what we have become after the merging. We are approaching the temple. A similar melancholic melody lures us to yet another bare, crepuscule lighted room. Female forms sit randomly on the floor, their faces veiled from the eyes of the simply curious. They lift their heads a little bit, and whisper parts of the revelation to us, a heavy, reverberating pulse setting the tone to their prophecies. Now we are ready for the Kapnobatai, for those who walk on smoke. Whose spirit is exulted by sacred fumes, to summon what cannot be summoned, to walk the paths that everyone fears, to answer the questions that have no answer. Remembrance and alteration become one, drones, pulsation and melody unite to their alien, godlike chanting, as we proceed into the inner sanctions of the temple. They are seated in a circle. We proceed to the middle of the circle, their chants vibrating our very core of inner being. We breathe of the sacred fumes, sit there awhile tuning our energy to theirs, striving to achieve the perfect understanding, the perfect unison. Towards the end the tension is released, and only small organic sounds and the pulsation remain, to slowly bring us back from the exhilarating experience. Now we are Reborn, we walk among the inhabitants of the citadel as equal to them, a sensual, tribal drum beat wrapping itself around a distant tune guiding our steps, as we walk out of the temple. We catch fleeting glimpses of curious, imposing buildings, courtyards of stone and metal and intricate occult patterns carved on walls, as robed, hooded figures come near us and lead the way to The Council Of Seven. The lords of the citadel hold their terrible wisdom and authority in magnificent, ancient forms, and their hollow, terrifying voices are heard echoing in the darkness, in between solemn, concrete, almost martial drumming. Before we even have time to make out their shapes in the omnipresent obscurity, the Meltdown begins. A short, solid tech track, industrial / dark ambient if one has to label it, quickly discarding us Inside The Womb. Where all the mysteries are unveiled, and the truth projects itself in all its dreadful eminence. The melodies, the rhythmic patterns, organic sounds, machines, screams we have previously encountered ,exist here to produce an influential result. The slow, pounding heartbeat prevails, inciting terror and inducing sudden energy surges. Somewhere around here, in the end of the beginning, or the beginning of the end, the dream stops – the End Titles offer us a harmonious, dreamy synth sequence, the way out of the nightmare, the key to locking it all inside, somewhere in the back of our mind… Yet another seducing, intoxicating and restless expedition through the heart of the infamous Citadel. Difficult to put to words or objective thinking, I have only contributed here part of my personal visualization. This is such a rich and complicated experience, I am quite sure it will induce different effects on everyone – just like a good hallucinogen.
Comprised of one Simon Heath, the title to this cryptic CD means “those who walk in smoke”. It is a dark set of fourteen soundscapes: electronic drones and hissing sounds, muffled spoken voices, distant synthetic choir-like vocals, erratic percussive scratching and scrapings and occasional heartbeat-like thumps. “Kapnobatai” is a journey into the underworld of the innermost regions where a deadly silence saps the souls of those imprisoned therein. Imagine the music of Vidnu Obmana interpreted by the demons who inhabit the deepest chambers of Hades. There are echoes of battles past, murders done in the name of the gods and of God: an overpowering sense of remorse. What have we done? Oh, that it could be undone! The innocent dead speak and sing to the damned, who can but catch glimpses of the heaven they shall never obtain, thus increasing their sense
of torture. O! What might have been! One soundscape blends into another: trapped in the orc-infested mines of Moria, its original builders murdered, with the Balrog – demon of an earlier time, lurking unbeknownst within its halls.These aural images are filled with sadness, regret, and intense fear. As the science fiction author wrote: I have no mouth and I must scream!
(4.5 stars out of 5)
A quandary. You’re an up and coming artist who also composes music. You release your debut “Cellblock”‘ to critical acclaim. You take some time out. Recover and plan. You then release the ‘oh so’ difficult to follow second release “Seishinbyouin” to even greater plaudits. People are calling it the scariest recording ever committed onto shiny disc. The response scares you. Doubts creep in. Suddenly you’re thrust even more into the limelight. The expectations weigh you down. The third release seems a long way off. You fret. Gathering your thoughts you start doing what you do best. You lay down track after track. After weeks of sweat and tears you’ve finished. The tracks are finished and a title given. “Kapnobatai” it will be known as. You go over and over each piece of music making final tiny adjustments and adding the polish to make it shine. You can do no more. And here is the quandary. Do you submit it to the record label that has shown so much faith in your talent… knowing that it will be forever compared to your second masterpiece…or do you admit defeat and give up the ghost completely.
Simon Heath is no quitter. Simon Heath knows his shit. Simon Heath has the self belief in his music. “Kapnobatai” acts as a companion piece to the horrors that “Seishinbyouin” projected musically. In film terms “Seishinbyouin” is to ” Alien ” what “Kapnobatai” is to ” Aliens “. A more grandiose and intense exhilarating experience with more effects and a bigger budgeted sound. “Kapnobatai” (“those who walk in smoke”) is a 14 track triumphant intelligent black ambient magnum opus…and you’ll not see those words written down too many times about any other piece of music.
With this work the aural landscape is one populated by decay and desperation. Of buildings falling apart and machinery rusting as the acid rains fall. Of multi lingual people taking shelter from the prevailing storms aware that something evil is within their mist. Echoes of a past and present on a collision course to oblivion. Through the music doors open and close in the darkness and desperate voices speak with fear and dread. The occasional jaunty beats and electronics clash against the threat of an oncoming onslaught where there will be no winners. This then is the key to Simon Heath’s work. To go against the grain when least expected. To lead into visions of hope then cruelly shatter the illusions with dramatic effect. What appears normal suddenly turns into something completely different within the same track. A massive jolt to the body. A cattle prod thrust into the chest by a maniac laughing deliriously.
” Kapnobatai” is all of this. A huge Pandora’s box of delights. Dare you open it? Dare you peer inside? Dare you face the demons laying in wait? Well…dare you? The difficult third recording is finished. Laid to rest. To be savoured and relished. To be played back to back with “Seishinbyouin”. For they are both on equal footing. They are statements of an artist in total control. A master of all he surveys. A virtuoso of black ambient music. Miss this at your peril.
It is not enough to describe this CD as dark ambient, for each track carries its own sense of importance and cinema. This CD is more of a soundtrack for a film that follows a labyrinthine script of whispered voices and cavernous echo.
The Kapnobatai were ancient shamans, whose hallucinatory rite required them to wade through billows of botanical smoke to commune with the spirit world, in order to gain healing powers and to experience visions of the future.
Simon Heath, who composed, mixed, and mastered this recording, also contributed some fantastic artwork that appears on the cover of the CD insert, as well as inside. The artwork illustrates the existence of monstrous unknown entities, like those inhabiting a Lovecraftian spirit world just beyond the crack in a wall, visible only through the use of arcane knowledge garnered by the reading of elaborate geometrical texts.
Heath creates a world where time collapses, where the ancient world of conjured spirits, the physical limitations of being all too human, and the infinite outreach of potential futuretech, all coexist.
The physicality of the CD is expressed in different ways, via whispered secrets, despair-ridden whimpers, and outright cries of pain.
The ambient sound creates the illusion of captivity and freedom, perpetuating a renegade spirit throughout the CD, a spirit that is always planning to escape, wrestling with an inability to escape, or succumbing to the notion that escape is impossible. This escape might be from some tormentor, but it also might be from the chains of habitual ritual, or from some other conditioning method.
The physicality of the CD is also strengthened by percussive excursions, which negate the bang-the-drum-hard mentality. Rather, there is the subtle, but highly effective, pulse, pound, and synapse of biology, geology, and technology.
Heath does a masterful job here, making this a highly recommended CD.
Atrium Carceri’s debut recording “Cellblock” on CMI was one bleak motherfucking tour de force of black ambience. I wrote those words exactly in my review for Bunty for Girls magazine. Bloody thing never got printed. Fuckin’ kids. With the follow up Atrium Carceri have produced an ever darker recording based on a lunatic asylum. They must have a ‘thing’ about buildings. I’ll going to cut to the chase here and just say that this is monumental. Nay it’s spectacular and awesome. “Seishinbyouin” drags you in to a nether world of subliminal madness and decay. Voices clear and distant rebound echoing off walls that drip water cutting a swathe through years of grime. A piano plays a lament to lost tormented souls whilst all the time an omnipresence of horror lurks nearby. The sense of prevailing evil is every where and souls long ago lost in an age of innocence despair at their surroundings. Things clatter and fall whilst orchestral music thunders and recedes. Shit I could go on about the beats, chants, and everything on here but there’s so much happening that you need to hear this for yourself.
If you want music to scare the crap out of you then this is ESSENTIAL. I‘m even sweating writing this such is the power that “Seishinbyouin” evokes. Black ambient lovers hail your new Gods.
Beauty and Pain
We have some unsettling sounds starting here on the 2nd release on CMI by Atrium Carceri. I would call them Dark ambient sound of Black Occultish visions. The 1st track creates complete mental anguish and its doesn’t seem to be stopping with the 2nd one. The bleak synth and uneasy industrial backdrops with voices of a madman and all his friends that seem to be in one head. This is one goddamn dark release by CMI. Ah now come in haunting piano moment and that still distant rumbling. The artwork here is another piece of stellar work. With the story line inside the booklet that can even make the strongest and bravest of us out there feel the pain and desolation for this soul. If you like Minimalist Haunting Dark / Black ambient like Kerovnian or Sephiroth then this is a must release for your collection.
This 14 track CD is full of unremitting despondency within two minutes of it beginning as the sound of decelereated, grunted vocals sound like the guy’s been rotting in a prison cell for the last fifty years, while the footstep-like muffled drums slowly beat in the distance, as clouds of cosmic electronics fill the airwaves with the ruthless effectiveness of mustard gas. Everything seems slowed down to almost nightmarish extent, as the slowly moving layers of electronics and space thunder seem to billow up and tower over the proceedings with an air of evil, so thick you can almost smell it. By the time of the third track, ‘Hidden Crimes’, the mood has mellowed to one of mere gloom, a light in the black provided by a lone piano melody amid waves of deep bass electronics that hang around your feet like dry ice, so heavy you can feel the boom resonate through the fibre of your very being, while the sampled voices now have distinct words attached to them, as every so often you hear doors opening and closing, what sounds like birdsong outside, but then becomes more like the ghostly machinations that are emanating from the corridors within. The sound of a slowly chanting electronic choir comes and goes, as the space thunder is heard all around, layers of electronics, samples and percussives forming this unrelenting slide into darkness.
On ‘Incubation’ the break-out is achieved and the sound of hope in the form of symphonic electronics and rising layers of melody, amid booming bombs of electronic explosiveness, create a way out of the darkness. But it’s short-lived as you find yourself traveling down tunnels that seem to fill with the sound of dark synthesizers, heavenly synth choirs, buzz-saw space electronics, and surrounding electronic drifts and drones, providing an almost hallucinatory experiences you hear slightly out-of-earshot voices at the far end of the tunnel and the sound of gorgeous waves of synthesized deliverance fill the air. On track 6, ‘Warden’, the first rhythm is heard – slow but solid, and an incredible sea of dark, booming space electronics with the bass thunder echoing all around, comes into play. Still, you’re less than half way through, and the rest is as hypnotic and enjoyable and experience and sound, as what I’ve thus far described – just experience it for yourself, and you’ll find that this album will be come one that you will play over and over again. My description sums up its feel but, musically, it’s so much more a listening treat than you would ever think from the way I’ve described it, totally unique, unlike nothing else around right now, and one sensational album.
This is the second album by Atrium Carceri. This act produces very dark ambient music that will keep you awake for sure.
Seishinbyouin means lunatic asylum in Japanese. As the title suggests Atrium Caceri takes you into the depths of a haunting and terrifying mental hospital. One that hasn’t been cleaned for a long time. One where the doctors and wards don’t look and act like normal people. And, one that you will remember forever, if you get out.
You will hear horrific screams and cries when entering the asylum. You will hear strange mumbling and water dripping from the walls when going deeper, and chains rattling and doors screeching when trying to get out.
The record is buit up in a well thought of way. It really tells the story from entering untill getting out of the asylum. Thus expect the music to become more and more intense while listening to the album.
This is an extreme dark musical score to your scariest nightmare.
Jesus H. Christ! There are times when you hear something for the first time and it just makes you want to shit yourself with excitement! Well, one listen to Atrium Carceri’s “Seishinbyouin” and you’ll be having one of those scary moments. “Seishinbyouin” (Japanese for lunatic asylum) leads you through mental darkness, with its eerie soundscapes. A very riveting listening, indeed.
Dark. /ultra rock
Imagine… you find yourself in an old deconsecrated jail, facing a nerver-ending corridor lined on both sides by cells. The walls, once white, are covered by a texture which appears to be a mixture of rust, mould, mud and dried blood: the smell and the appearance of stirred past. ATRIUM CARCERI leads you along the corridor and shows you the proof that walls have memories.
Cellblock… imprisonment, the listener’s unhealthy claustrophobia. Between the keyboards’ layers which create an oppresive but also evanescent, elusive atmosphere, the sounds seem to come from far away. First, this beat, slow at the beginning, a heartbeat, the listener fears that it will stop, that life foresakes it, but the heartbeat speeds up, the fear, the anguish, it’s becoming a hellish hammering, an insane countdown, a panting breath comes over it, this track was called Entrance, you’ve entered the corridor, you’ve dived into the bleak atmosphere of an unhealthy past.
The work as a whole follows an obvious progression, it unveils itself and surrenders little by little, by the second. Some fleeing sounds are added to the morally straining atmosphere, as one who would seize a strange shape at the corner of his vision of field. The industrial sounds are a perfect reproduction of the carceral universe: a sound of steel, the loading of a gun, a far-off explosion, doors that open on mystery, on the unnamable, cries, souls and often only a deafening silence echoes them. The hypnotic rythm materializes a ghostly presence by your side… Are you sure you heard this sound? The narrow windy boundary that separates you from the jail is growing thin. You sing into paranoia, it’s becoming impossible for you to tell the difference between the jail’s universe and your own.Your own nightmare begins, but a morbid fascination prevents you from stopping this “macabre danse”.
Let yourself be overcome by the deep reflection crouching in the heart of the notes and at last unveiled in Reborn, associated with owymoron to an autopsy report: a great deal of life is struggling in this hostile void, even the deads don’t want to leave… Don’t try to make sense of all the sounds, juste pay attention, let them impose themselves on you, imagination will do the rest. It’s your imagination alone that makes this work unique and different for everyone. Inner Carceri: may be this jail was nothing else than your own body, your own mind. May be this trip was not so much a journey into a deconsecrated jail but a journey into yourself.
Beauty and Pain
Looks like CMI is going back to the more retro feel of bands like Arcana, Raison De Etre, Sephiroth and Desiderii Marginis. Odd Glitches, Minimal Symphonic string arrangements and a Dark Dark overtone. Atrium Carceri almost feels like were Raison De etre left off years ago and Sephiroth have just started exploring. This has a very occultish vibe to it as well at times almost like Schloss tegal or Kerovnian. The Haunting pianos and what sound like trapped demonic forces are so important to the overall effect of this title.This is one extremely impressive dark ambient release. And will be welcome addition to all the CMI artist you have grown to love.
Quiet, subdued, yet haunting little soundscapes from the Simon Heath asylum. Although each of these twelve tracks seems more like a fragment or a glimpse into the darkness of Atrium Carceri than a complete piece, together they jigsaw into a goosebumping soundtrack. Whispering echoes, cautious footfalls, and muted voices sweep through the darkened halls of Cellblock, along with the occasional feral sound of an animal or invalid who has returned to take up refuge in this damaged nest. Abuses of long ago are recalled and relived, as broken restraints click and clatter and something moving in a sack is dragged through fallen corridors, past boarded-up rooms where unspeakable acts might still be occurring. (All coming back to life and taking place in the middle of the night, of course.) All the while hushed electronic tones are lending an atmosphere of subtle menace to the entire exploration, manufacturing an understated ambiance that very capably creates an impression of abandonment while at the same time building a hesitant apprehension of what may break through the barrier of bad memories and dreams being resurrected here. Each time I’ve listened to it, Cellblock has brought the film Session 9 very forcibly to mind, and if you enjoyed the film you will no doubt appreciate this recording.
Maurizio Pustianaz/Chain D.L.K.
Old jails’ walls sweat desolation and pain. By looking to the cover of the Atrium Carceri’s debut album CELLBLOCK, you can feel it and you can almost smell it. Also the other photos of the booklet make you feel a sour taste into your mouth while you watch them and this is a good starting point, if you think that you haven’t listened to the music yet. When you put the disc inside your CD player, the walls of your room start to rot and you begin to understand what was that certain look painted on the doll’s face, that is looking to you by the rear cover… Simon Heath (member of Za Frûmi) made an impressive debut album by recording twelve tracks full of pathos and diversified atmospheres. Simon wanted to expand the concept of darkwave music by creating well done sick soundtracks, packed with interesting samples (whispers, gates creaking, Japanese voices, metal percussions, etc) and tense moments. Fortunately all the cure he put into the recordings and into the composition won’t allow you to get bored or to get relaxed. Warders are coming to get you… this is your new nightmare!
This is a solo project of Simon Heath, member of Za Frumi (Waerloga Rec.). This is his debut album with the well known (to the lovers of darkest sounds) Swedish label Cold Meat.
Cellblock are cries from deep within the prison. At first sight it could be unimaginable to think of enough inspiration by three walls, small window and a grate. Not for Atrium Carceri, that tells more than that. He tells stories that those walls have seen – from entrance to despair. Stories of their dwellers, their insanity and for some hopelessness. Ambiental complex and abstract music is filled with dreadful sounds that chill you down the spine during the whole voyage.
Put the CD in, close your eyes and immagine yourself trapped. Now what do you feel? You’ll be able to label this album as a masterpiece.
Reviewed by Editeur