[Reviewed by vitriol]
Cryobiosis is the project of Romanian artist Christian Voicu, under which he has released two previous albums, “From The Depths” in 2012 and “Within Ruins” in 2013, also on Cryo Chamber. His new offering, “Inner Stasis” continues in the tradition of “Within Ruins”, with the tracks being small presentations of a claustrophobic, perhaps even post-apocalyptic milieu. Heavily based on the non-music premise that ambient operates on, the album makes its presentation with the use of a large variety of organic sounds, surgically placed melodies and industrial influences. Footsteps, disintegrating materials, water dripping from rusty pipes, metallic clangs echoing through dark, empty spaces. Atmospheric synths reminding us that outside of these fragile walls there is only the deep, cold vacuum of space.
The artist is not afraid to experiment, even to dispose of any trace of musical structure, which is the case in most of the tracks – except for the ones with fragments of melodies fading away in the background. The result is a recording that is basically a film soundtrack, for which you are free to imagine the film while being given ample suggestion. Each track can stand independently but is also a link to a chain; a chain that keeps us prisoners in this complex of underground tunnels that is damp, scary and might crumble on our heads any minute.
This blurred anxiousness and indefinable longing makes its appearance in the first track, “The Opening”, and lingers on throughout the recording. Even its title, “Inner Stasis”, denotes a negative situation where the abandonment evident in the external environment matches that of the individual, trapped forever in a timeless void. Most of the tracks – for instance “Deep Aquaduct”, “Into Nothingness” or “Harrow” – are largely based on a crisp, organic aural narration. Other tracks such as “Hidden Dungeons”, “Chasms” or “Condensation” – my favourite – contain melodic or rhythmic passages that, for all their discretion, serve to make the mood even more chilling, the visions even more despairing, and to put an iron grip on our heart. The sense of loss is so much greater when you know or remember what you have missed. A fact all the more emphasized by the two final tracks with their lifeless, buzzing drones drowned in industrial whispers, and their lethargic rhythms, like this tired heart is about to stop beating. “Exit Life”, and we have reached the end.
The significant Atrium Carceri influence this project bears must be acknowledged, as Christian Voicu and Simon Heath create very similar ambiences; they are both heralds of the coming Apocalypse, of an age where the prison within may be the only refuge from the chaos without. Whether we choose to view it as an escapist adventure into an imaginary realm, or as a metaphor for the disintegration of the self and the collapse of society, one thing is for sure: this release will definitely hold the interest of any dark ambient enthusiast, as it succeeds very well in evoking detailed imagery and offering a complete narration for those among the listeners who are willing to immerse. All the tracks are equally engaging, there is balance and skill in the combination of ambient, organic sounds and industrial elements, and the artist shows a steady but noticeable improvement from his previous release, which was already very good. Even as background music “Inner Stasis” would surely provide for a chilling, vaguely disturbing atmosphere. But in my opinion it would be a shame to treat it like that. My recommendation is to close your eyes, turn off the lights, put your headphones on, and allow the story to unravel in your head.