Randal Collier-Ford ‎– The Architects

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[Reviewed by stark]

Still it surprises me how Simon Heath is continually fishing artists drifting somewhere on the edges of the dark ambient ocean, while their level of professionalism often surpasses much more established musicians. Randal Collier-Ford for example, he previously released several albums in digital form for Kalpamantra. I heard them, I liked them, but I think it is “The Architects” where he revealed his full potential.

This label’s albums always tell a story. Sometimes it is literally suggested, at other times they leave more to the imagination and allow for the listener’s own interpretation. But there’s always a cause-and-effect relation, a building of tension in the likeness of a book or a movie, and a selection of the sounds themselves, calling specific associations. Therefore, if you prefer musical tales under the sign of horror, sci-fi or post-apocalypse over abstract blurry soundscapes conducing journeys into the unknown where the spirit is more engaged than the mind, Cryo Chamber is for you. Things are no different when discussing “The Architects”.

The last item in Randal Collier-Ford portfolio falls somewhere between mechanical tales in the vein of del Toro’s “Cronos” and dark occult horror. A formulation where these influences are felt most substantially is the second in the order “Construction Of A Demon”, sounding exactly as the title suggests. An underground factory filled with machinery constructing a mechanical-organic hybrid, into which some insane necromancer will breathe the spirit later. Switches, cogwheels, gears, pistons and drills working for the glory of impure forces. Actually, this song gives an identity to the entire album. “The Return”, also very long, can be enjoyable with its skillfully staged tension. Something’s coming, something very wicked and malicious. As if Lovecraftian creatures out of this world and self-replicating machines straight from “Screamers” have entered into a secret alliance against humanity and are preparing for the first attack.

I distinguish these compositions, but the other ones as well aren’t inferior. The drones are fleshy, the sound is rich, and all kinds of noises and distortions enrich this black mechanic world, that the American musician has skilfully created. Sometimes he pulls yet another surprise out of his hat, like in “Hellgate”, with motifs straight from some orchestral soundtrack to satanic horror films from the 70s.

I’ll put a fly in this ointment though, because all these birds and flowers on the pink sky would be too much. It concerns not so much Randal himself, but the whole Cryo Chamber label. This may sound strange, but the label’s publications are made so perfectly that sometimes their lose their natural feel. Even when sound dirt or a distortion appears, it almost always has a sterile, clinical character. I know that perfectionism is a virtue, and that this is Cryo Chamber policy, but I wouldn’t be put off if the drone was sometimes a bit more fuzzy, if the dirt was more slimy and tarry. So that it could confirm all the more my belief that it is the work of man, and not a perfectly programmed cyborg. In short, more madness, less calculation. It’s just my opinion.

Randal Collier-Ford ‎– The Architects
Cryo Chamber
Digital 2015

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