VA: Yog-Sothoth - A Cryo Chamber Collaboration
Cryo Chamber

Let's be honest: a compelling argument could be made that virtually any Cryo Chamber release could be taken for an H.P. Lovecraft homage, so infused with the writer's macabre sensibility is the label's dark ambient catalogue. What sets Yog-Sothoth apart from other Cryo Chamber releases, however, is that this particular project was conceived from the outset with the writer in mind and produced by all involved in accordance with that concept. For the record (and as multiple sources tell us), “Yog-Sothoth is a cosmic entity and Outer God of the Cthulhu Mythos and the Dream Cycle of H. P. Lovecraft”; the name Yog-Sothoth first appeared in the 1927 novella “The Case of Charles Dexter Ward” (first published in 1941), though it's not the only time it shows up in Lovecraft's writings.

The label stresses that the two-hour release is not a compilation but a collaboration: for over a year, twenty artists linked workspaces so that they could individually contribute to it. And who, you might ask, was involved? All together now: Aegri Somnia, Alphaxone, Atrium Carceri, Randal Collier-Ford, Council of Nine, Darkrad, Dronny Darko, Flowers for Bodysnatchers, God Body Disconnect, Gydja, Kammarheit, Keosz, Kolhoosi 13, Neizvestija, Northumbria, Kristoffer Oustad, ProtoU, Sij, Sjellos, and Ugasanie, the tribute the presumed brainchild of label-runner Simon Heath (aka Atrium Carceri) and in all probability overseen by him, too.

Sonically, it's pretty much what you would expect from a work designed to render Lovecraft's noxious realm into sound form. Cryptic, disturbing, nightmarish, desolate, and bleak are but a sampling of words that come to mind as the all-consuming mass spreads its poisonous fumes through one's speakers. Field recordings, clanks, toxic breaths, industrial blasts, fog horns, and muffled choirs punctuate the dronescape as the merciless work advances across barren terrain long abandoned by life-forms, human or otherwise.

And a true collaboration it is: presented in two hour-long parts, the material unfolds with but a single pause, and nowhere are there markers that connect particular artists to specific sections. That said, the work does noticeably advance through episodes of an at-times contrasting nature. A somewhat gamelan-tinged section in the first part, for example, cedes its place to a brightly illuminated ambient sequence, which in turn leads into a controlled, guitar-fueled wail that might well be Northumbria. The opening minutes of the second part, on the other hand, are distinguished by the graceful soar of what sounds like electric violin playing, after which ominous tones suggest the imminent emergence of buried entities.

At two hours, the journey is long, but it's also ultra-scenic and therefore never lacking for stimulation. Of course, one could also supplement the listening experience, were one so inclined, with reading material by the man himself, something on the order of “The Thing on the Doorstep” or perhaps “The Dunwich Horror.” Choose your poison, as the saying goes.

November 2017