2015 Top 10s & 20s
Roomful Of Teeth

David Arend
Artificial Intelligence
Nimrod Borenstein
Randal Collier-Ford
Julien Demoulin
Denki Udon
R. Nathaniel Dett
Dwiki Dharmawan
Yair Etziony
Marina Fages
Francesco Di Fiore
Flowers for Bodysnatchers
From the Mouth of the Sun
Markus Guentner
Momenta Quartet
Music Komite
North Atlantic Explorers
Prequel Tapes
Alessandro Stella
Swarm Intelligence
Robert Scott Thompson
Trigg & Gusset
Aino Tytti
Andy Vaz
We Mythical Kings
Sebastian Zangar

Compilations / Mixes / Remixes / Reissues
Dub Phizix
Stacey Pullen
A Simple Procedure
Tour De Traum X

EPs / Cassettes / DVDs / Mini-Albums / Singles
Big Phone
Great Panoptique Winter
Mute Forest
Thee Koukouvaya
Joshua Van Tassel

Randal Collier-Ford: Remnants
Cryo Chamber

Whilst listening to Remnants, I found myself musing about how excellent a candidate Randal Collier-Ford would be for any number of film soundtrack assignments. But almost immediately upon doing so I checked myself in realizing that pieces of such evocative character don't require visuals: Collier-Ford's settings are so visually suggestive, listening to them amounts to a complete audio-visual experience. The Oregon-based sound artist has been operating in the Dark Ambient field since 2012, and on this second Cryo Chamber outing he arms ten grandiose visions with image-generating titles such as “Suspension of Icarus” and “Decaying Sun,” evoking apocalyptic impressions, spiritual entities, and mythological archetypes as he does so.

“Monument” immediately announces that Remnants will be less focused on ambient-drone soundscaping and more on atmospheric sound design. A richly cinematic soundworld is created, one painstakingly assembled by Collier-Ford and arranged with respect to evocative power to maximum effect. The closing “Revelations” aside, the pieces aren't musical in the conventional sense, though musical elements are present in more or less fragmented form; Collier-Ford clearly has a different goal in mind, the idea presumably being to place the listener within a landscape generated via the arrangement of disparate sound elements. The precise location of the outdoors setting conjured in “Horns of Eden” isn't clear, for instance, but wherever it is it's one infused with gloom and desolation. “Remnants,” on the other hand, appears to be situated near a building, given the presence of creaking doors, yet shoveling noises and the sounds of someone trudging through a rumbling, haunted site clearly locates us outside, too.

The particularly disturbing “Eye of the West” hints at a nightmarish graveyard setting where the long-dead drag their skeletal remains from their decaying crypts; the throbbing bass tones and whooshes in “Black Garden” promise, if anything, an even deeper plunge into madness and the macabre. As evocative as they are, such pieces aren't for the faint of heart. That said, what's especially satisfying about these constructions is the way they patiently develop; abrupt transitions and ill-fitting juxtapositions are eschewed, Collier-Ford instead choosing to let each setting unfold as it naturally should. It wouldn't be a stretch to describe what he's doing on these carefully composed collages as painting in sound.

December 2015