Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Atrium Carceri - Souyuan (2008)

Souyuan is the fifth full-length from Sweden's Atrium Carceri, one of the premiere dark ambient acts from Europe, and previous albums Ptahil and Kapnobatai have elevated them into one of my favorites of this fringe genre of sound craft. To that I have to say that I wasn't quite as impressed with this offering, but it's still got the textbook quality throughout.

Souyuan is a study in cold sounds to fill the absence spaces in the shadows of the world. Minimal synthesizers, slight dabs of noise, and haunting pianos dominate this landscape of the obscure. "Perfect Tundra" evokes an industrial, empty waste. "Alternate Sides" is pure piano sadness. "A New Silence" is one of my favorite tracks on the album, with a thriving, scintillating pulse of swelling synth bathed in a cavernous atmosphere. "Identity Theft" has an immediate feel, almost as if a foot chase through the bowels of some dangerous yet abandoned center of civilization. "Curtain" is both ominous and relaxing simultaneously. "Spawning Pool" is a frightening piece with some haunted, snipped voice like samples. You can almost hear the horror of whatever slithers forth from this pool. "Memory Lapse" is another of the better tracks here, walls of synth are graced with swollen resonance and slight forays into calculated noise. "3 Holy Spires" is a beautiful tune, the dark empty side of a future cathedral perhaps. "Communication" is another creeper, and the album ends on "First Steps" with its warm yet whispering atmosphere.

As usual, when listening to such albums I enjoy closing my eyes and just seeing where the sparse noise directs my imagination. With Atrium Carceri I get a rather unique crossroads between a cavernous world and a cyberpunk dystopia in mind, always a favorite to visit. And it just as easily reflects the Latin 'prison halls' of the band's namesake translation. This may not be my favorite of his works to date, but it's another well worth owning.

Verdict: Win [8/10]


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