[Reviewed by stark]
This is probably the best Cryo Chamber release in many months; there’s nothing strange about this as two out of three of my favourite musicians associated with the label are responsible for “Miles To Midnight”: Cities Last Broadcast and God Body Disconnect; the third is Hoshin, if you’re curious. Add to this Atrium Carceri, whose years of experience and professionalism are undeniable.
To be honest, last year I tired of all the horror/sci-fi/Lovecraftian/ post-apocalyptic concepts squeezed to the limits by the label. They often were very like one another: well performed, enjoyable, but in the final analysis somehow shallow, at least in my opinion. Not all of them, obviously, Wordclock’s dark-jazz influenced “Heralds” was a touching experience; “Black Corner Den” was a fine piece of dark ambient, this time with quite an innovative concept – there were even some parallels to the classic Absinthe tribute by Blood Axis and Les Joyaux De La Princesse. Since Pär and Simon’s collaboration was not as epic or mindblowing, it gave me more than a few moments of narcotic bliss.
They describe it as Dark Jazz Ambient album. I know it’s only words and pigeonholes and you can call me a fussy fellow, but in my opinion jazz by its definition cannot be generated synthetically, at least for the most part. I’d say it’s a dark ambient with dark jazz influences. It’s difficult to compare it to the one hundred percent natural dark jazz collectives like Bohren & Der Club Of Gore or The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble. If you turn off Bruce Moallem’s drums and remove two or three melodies here and there, you’d be left with atmospheric dark ambient, nothing more, nothing less. The music itself is good enough to make this issue of semantics rather irrelevant.
Who is responsible for what is rather easy to work out. Simon’s piano melodies are touching as usual, while Pär’s tape manipulations bring a tone of well-expected oneirism to the whole. All this, combined with Bruce’s slow drumming and – as I assume – some drone backgrounds (perhaps the guitar in the last composition too) invokes the image of dark streets covered in rain… bars filled with cigarette smoke and the scent of expensive perfume worn by damsels in distress. The album tells the story of a mysterious hotel, a murder from the past and so on. You may follow it or not, it’s up to you.
It is a satisfying sound lecture if you combine their story with the one in your head or you can forgo it completely. My favourite track is number two, “A Thousand Empty Rooms”. It’s not that dark but it is dreamily melancholic; noir nostalgia akin to the sort generated by Bohren & Der Club Of Gore. Seriously, when I was listening to this one the first time, I was expecting a saxophone to emerge from out of nowhere any second. Hire a sax player for the next album, guys! I won’t call you Bohren wannabes, I promise.
One more thing: call me a whiner, because its absolutely trivial, but the label describes “Miles To Midnight” as something with a “Lynchian Noir feel”. Honestly, I can’t stand all the Lynch mentions, whether in the reviews, press-releases etc. Seriously, noir or neo-noir is a genre vast enough to find some other points of reference. But most of the fans probably won’t even notice that or find it significant; it doesn’t affect the pleasure of listening at all. “Miles To Midnight” is more than decent and it’s a fine 2018 opening for Cryo Chamber.