Would you like to travel in time? Are you having concerns, scientific or otherwise, about the practical or even theoretical possibility of doing so? Are you worried that you will travel to the far off future, and find that Robot Hillary Clinton and Cyber Donald Trump have patched up their differences, and now rule the universe as king and queen? If so, there are easier ways to explore the experience of traversing the spatio-temporal continuum. One of the easiest, and most pleasurable, is listening to the latest Cryo Chamber release. While you do so, you needn’t worry about being trampled by fired up, bigoted mobs, ancient or modern, nor is there any reason to fear finding Earth a barren wasteland, infested with the last degenerate vestiges of life. Instead, you can just have some wine with cheese. I still want red with my Roquefort, by the way, and fuck you and your recent discovery that whites retain their flavor better when confronted with the saltiness.
SiJ is a Ukrainian industrial/dark ambient act which has been around since 2012, and has a discography like a harsh noise wall project. Many releases, many collaborations. Even so, my experience with them are limited, but by listening to The Time Machine, I’ve expanded it plenty. The principal components of the music are drones, mellow keyboard work and field recordings. The latter are mostly drenched in rich, wet reverbs, creating a sense of oceans, rains and melting ice. In addition to these core elements there are also other sounds, such as chiming bells and distant voices prattling or shouting, utilized. A great sense of distance hangs over the audio landscape fashioned by SiJ – this is you watching time unfold, not you being enveloped in some synthesizer based womb, as is often the case with dark ambient.
While these fundamentals pervade the whole work, The Time Machine is one diverse piece of plastic. Drawing at least somewhat on the H.G. Wells story of the same title, with one roomy piece of largely field recording based dark ambient being called “Morlock’s Path”, the album shifts back and forth in time between different eras and moods.
Some tracks go heavy on the cinematic aspect. “In Ancient Times” takes us far back to peoples of yore, beating their drums and engaging in naive speculation about the nature of the world surrounding them, while “Vision of Hell” presents a menacing and slightly disharmonic view of darkness and emptiness. “Realm of Eternal Rain” sounds exactly like the title implies, with calming keyboard drones and bell chimes co-existing harmonically with subtle rain samples. Others are more purely musical, while still usually making some symbolic point. “Instantaneous” and “Particulate Matter” both take the main elements of the album as a whole, and fashion them into dripping wet, shadowy dreams.
The odd one out is “Floating Clouds” – here there are still some droning going on, but the distinctly articulated bass lines, flutes and piano notes give a very feel-good ambient impression of a type odd in this context. There’s nothing really wrong with it, in fact I like it, but it does stand out.
SiJ constitute fine evidence that dark ambient and drone can be done in many different ways. While the emotional impact of The Time Machine is at least related to the mood evoked by many other ambient and dark ambient albums, it still has a very distinct style. The intellectual theme of the album is not at all as obviously all-pervasive as in something like Paleowolf, but instead there are some very subtle and interesting musical concepts that run through everything (including “Floating Clouds”), creating an awe-inspiring totality.
Whether you’re drinking red wine with blue cheese, or watching your beloved Weena perish in flames, you would do well to listen to The Time Machine while doing it. The album is released on February 21st, and is already available for preorder here.