Codex by Atrium Carceri

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Atrium Carceri | Codex
Cryo Chamber (LP/CD/DL)

This is a perfect record for a rainy morning. Swedish dark ambient artist Atrium Carceri (Simon Heath) has been working on Codex for three years, and this is my introduction to his work. Quite prolific as this is his thirteenth solo recording since 2003, with several collaborations in and between. The Void stars off right away as a moody, melodic work, filled with strange fog and circumstance. This floats like a broken lava bed right into From Chasms Reborn. Here a striated, gravelly sound pairs well with a soft drone and intermittent floating piano. Oregon-based imprint Cryo Chamber did a great job offering a CD version that comes with a lush little 16 page hardback deluxe DigiBook laid out nicely with matte details and illustrations.

Atrium Carceri - Codex - Atrium Carceri - Codex Booklet 4

There’s a lot of breadth on Codex, it’s a perfectly crafted atmospheric record to chill back to, though it will keep you constantly aware that there is something dark lurking just beyond your general perception. This is pure aural cinema as emphasized throughout The Seer and A Memory Lost.  The drone ranges from chilly to containment such as that on The Empty Chapel with its orchestral layer and grumbling industrial aptitude.

It’s calm and yet mysterious, keeping you rested and en guard which is an awkward juxtaposition for the body. Halfway through is where things really start to unfurl with Path of Fallen Gods. This has a classic noir tinge all over it. It breathes fire internally with a constant swirl of sonic drone and moderate percussion that floats.

Atrium Carceri - Codex - Atrium Carceri - Codex Booklet 5

The Ancient City opens in an uncertain quiet rather watery, stealthy. The volume grows some but the actions stay low minus some electronic tweets and a bit of rough edged crackle and hiss. It feels as though we could be in a future forest with unknown predators hidden in the dark. Sure I’m imagining this, but being provoked by the record helps draw out this vision. These tracks rarely take a break from within, they are sculpted from end to end with modulated drone with defined starts/stops, however, for playback this is something I want to be a continuous flow without interruption. The pitter-patter beat of Sacrifice to the Machine brings something new to the proceedings. The sound is a bit denser, but no less dramatic, though its a bit muddy at times. It offers a haunting tribal spirit through the muzzled erasures.

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Before we get to the final tracks The Maze is a bit incidental, minimal, offering that lost patina. A Hunger too Deep, which is shorter than the previous, breaks the barren surroundings with a layered piano and contorted sonic overlays which try and defy the simple elegance of its melody, it’s a perfect respite. On the finale, and lengthiest piece here (clocking at 7:10) is The Citadel. Here the rush of pedaled guitar is sweetly stratified within the structure of the global buzz and ambient mix. It’s again got that balance of calm/disconcerting that we experienced earlier. Not quite a nightmare, more a confluence of emotive elements making for a sensory synthesis to remember.

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