The tonal relationship between Cryo Chamber releases virtually guarantees that if you like one, you’ll like them all. But fans of the label may like this one the best. This three-way collaboration highlights multiple facets of the label’s sonic appeal. Atrium Carceri brings the dusty piano, Cities Last Broadcast the haunted tape loops and God Body Disconnect the live drums: three solo artists recording as a trio.
If one were to map the spectrum of instrumental music, one would likely place dark ambience next to dark jazz. Their intense bleed-through is demonstrated here. Cryo Chamber is generally known for the former, but Miles to Midnight crosses into the territory of Bohren & Der Club of Gore and The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble, a fine place to be as the night continues to encroach on afternoon and people scramble in darkness to their transports. As one might expect, there’s a smoky vibe to this recording, with slow paces like those of a relentless stalker. The suggestion of horns connects the album to the club, the swirling atmospheres to the fog. The album is aptly named, while the cover image is deeper than one might expect, bearing a hint of the supernatural. The lights of the shrouded building are reminiscent of the hole punches in film strips, certainly an intentional reference given the album’s filmic intentions.
The vinyl contains an alternate, more sinister image. The cover figure is losing his corporality, disintegrating into tendrils of smoke. He is closer to the building now, and all is bathed in red light. The tension is growing. There is no stalling whatever is coming; there is only surviving or not surviving.
In “Scene of the Crime”, something wicked creaks and casts a spell. Looking at the figure again, one thinks of the silhouette of Max von Sydow in The Exorcist. Could this be the hero, an ethereal detective with one foot in each realm? And if so, is he winning or losing?
The concrete touches ~ such as the bustle and bell of “The Other Lobby”, simultaneously ground the narrative and distort it, as the seeming field recordings turn out to be tape loops. The singer is not live, but recorded, perhaps even singing from the beyond. Nor is the filtered choir in “The Sleep Ensemble” from a nearby church. Nevertheless, good and evil continue to battle, with no end in sight; there are still miles to midnight. (Richard Allen)