A Journal Of The Dark Arts
“We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the light into the peace and safety of a new dark age”. / H.P. Lovecraft
Cthulhu, from the influential dark ambient label Cryo Chamber, has quickly become a staple of the genre, solidying CC’s role as masters of macabre sonic reveries. Cthulhu is a seamless floating astral journey through the many layers and tentacles of Lovecraft’s mythos’ namesake, the right honorable Cthulhu, who lies not dead but dreaming in the sunken city of R’lyeh, somewhere beneath the waves of the Pacific Ocean.
Cthulhu is both an awe-inspiring introduction to many of today’s dark ambient masters, and an interesting subtext to the layers of implications that have gathered like barnacles around Lovecraft and co.’s pulp fiction.
Cthulhu is presented as one unbroken dreamstate, spanning nearly 80 minutes of deep sea drones, fading echoing whispers, cavernous echoes and delays, culminating in a aural steambath of sonic apocalypse for end times. It’s a compelling and cohesive vision; impressive, for such a large collaborating ensemble.
Cthulhu is credited to Cryo Chamber Collaborators, including some of the biggest names working in dark ambient today, such as Cryo Chamber high magus Atrium Carceri (Simon Heath), as well as his space ambient side project Sabled Sun, Aseptic Void, and the prolific & excellent Alphaxone. It’s unclear who does what which is a compliment rather than a criticism. If we were to take a guess, i’d wager Simon Heath is somewhat responsible for the subsonic bass manipulations, which sound a lot like Atrium Carceri, but that’s about the extent of it.
The deep bass drones are woven through most of Cthulhu’s 80-minutes, which serves to give cohesion to the narrative, as well as reinforcing the 50,000 fathom subaqueous nature of most of this album, occasionally delving into deep groaning earth, like behemoth caverns where unspeakable acts take place.
Cthulhu does a remarkable job of approximating the traditional narrative of a Mythos story: first, the dreams, which begin to spill over into reality. This leads the narrator (no doubt institutionalized by this point) into observing ancient rites, peering behind the veil, plunging into the depths of the “black seas of infinity”, as the introductory text put it.
This speaks to the 21st Century infatuation with the Lovecraft Mythos, and Cthulhu tales, generally. I’d like to posit the opinion that Cthulhu is a totem of the astrological planet Neptune, the realm of deep dreams and precognitive visions. And while Lovecraft viewed these nonsensical realms with horror, it seems that our generation has taken to these deep waters like the Deep Ones, building strange new cities in these underwater realms.
As such, much of Cthulhu is surprisingly easy listening, like traditional new age ambient music. The quietude is shattered in the last five minutes, however, in an aural apocalypse steambath that reminds us that this is a Mythos story after all, and our allegiances may have been unwarranted.
So, are you a deviant cultist, writhing in the dust of mankind, or a Lovecraftian protagonist, gibbering with fear and horror over it all? Either way, yr bound to find something you like, floating in Cthulhu‘s eddies and currents.
We’re reviewing Cthulhu in support of the 15th Annual H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival and CthulhuCon, happening this weekend at the Hollywood Theater here in Portland, which we’re unable to attend, due to fiscal restrictions (the real horror), but will be supporting in unhallowed spirit these weekend.
This is also part of our 31 Days Of Horror, where we’re striving to cover something horror related every day of October. It won’t all be happening at Forestpunk, instead across all of the sundry places where we sling ink, so make sure to stop by the Forestpunk Facebook Page and follow along on Twitter @ @for3stpunk for non-stop ghoulishness and witchery this month.
What’re some of yr favorite horror-inspired sounds? Tweet ’em at #horrorscores and we’ll be sure to spread the nightmare.
If you like this one, the next Mythos-related Cryo Chamber Collaboration, Azathoth, is available now for pre-order, to be released on 10.6. Expect to hear more about this, as well as many other Cryo Chamber releases as we can find the time and courage to write about!
Complete List Of Cryo Chamber Collaborators:
Aseptic Void (FB/@AsepticVoid)
Atrium Carceri (FB)
Sabled Sun (FB)