Council of Nine: Diagnosis
Cryo Chamber

On Cryo Chamber's artist page for Council of Nine, we're told Redwood Valley, California resident Maximillian Olivier creates material that “conjure[s] visions of a Lovecraftian deep space and its unspeakable horrors.” In truth, while a powerful sense of foreboding does sometimes permeate his second full-length collection under the Council of Nine name (his debut album Dakhma appeared earlier this year), Olivier offers considerably more than variations on a one-dimensional theme on the seven-track Diagnosis. Though a title such as “I Can See the Fear in Your Eyes” clearly suggests disturbances of thoroughly unsettling kinds, for instance, the physical material itself, an ethereal, deep space ambient-drone, is as likely to induce wonder as much as trepidation.

Crafting his concoctions using synthesizers, guitar, electronic instruments, and field recordings, he generates engulfing dronescapes that extend from ominous (“Rite of Passage”) to awesome (“Sedation”). In the latter, voices, faintly audible beneath epic swathes of synthesizer textures, cryptically murmur as if portending the universe's imminent collapse, whereas choirs intone amidst swollen synth rumblings in “Void of Regret” in a chilly manner that likens Olivier's throbbing set-pieces to isolationism. Adding to the general sense of unease, high-pitched, slightly dissonant winds howl throughout “Riddled with Guilt,” their intensity leavened somewhat by the soft tinkle of a keyboard melody. Diagnosis doesn't appear to possess a formal narrative or story-line, but its deeply atmospheric content is certainly powerful and evocative enough on its own terms. Whatever the story is that it's telling, it's an epic one and very much compatible with Cryo Chamber's vision.

January 2016