Phonothek – Red Moon

Georgian Phonothek is a comparatively new name on the dark ambient skies of Eastern Europe. Released by Cryo Chamber, Red Moon is their sophomore full length album, and it is an interesting one. Armed with a post-apocalyptic theme, which frankly isn’t always obviously expressed by the music, the album offers a rather bumpy ride through the various spheres of darker experimental music.

The opening track “Yellow Forest” is a collaboration with Keosz, and upon the first listen it leaped very close to the top of our Cryo Chamber greatest hits list (no such list exists, but writers must have some artistic leeway). Multifaceted, bleak and beautiful, with excellent utilization of samples and a plethora of instruments and synth sounds, it combines several different strands of low-key, soft experimental music. A basic field recording/dark ambient setup is spiced with industrial, and even a pinch of neoclassical. Very Cold Meat stuff.

The second composition, “Last Melody”, is also a collaboration, this time with Kammarheit side project Cities Last Broadcast. Here, there’s some ex-tonal sounds played in reverse, as well as smooth-to-not-so-smooth saxophone notes, which despite our snarky comment about the concept does in fact create a sensation of a post-nuclear jazz/dark ambient cross-over band. This mood also carries over somewhat into “Come In The Whisper”, but about midway through what could possibly be called the “pure Phonothek sound” kicks in.

It is a sound marked by far more minimalism than at least the opening track. At times low key, dark drones and synth segments drip forth from somewhere deep below abandoned, unplowed Georgian fields. Small melodies, wailing brass and even voices appear ever so often to dispell any sense of monotony. There’s also a heavy dose of musique concrete involved in all of this, and tracks like “Mudra” and “In the Smell of Wolves” are bound to please fans of Metgumbnerbone.

With the possible exception of the first track (which must be loved by anyone of any taste or culture what so ever), Red Moon is certainly less accessible than most Cryo Chamber releases. That should not be taken as negative criticism, though, since Phonothek have certainly managed to create something unique, atmospheric and at times somewhat disturbing. Finding the right audience, the album could probably garner plenty of praise, of which it is very much deserving.

Red Moon was released on the 4th of April, and is available from Cryo Chamber on CD and digital download.

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