Review: Sabled Sun - 21452146 (2012)


2145

artist: Sabled Sun
release: 2145,  2146
format: Digital
year of release: 2012
label: Cryo Cham­ber
dur­a­tion: 62:59, 53:13

detailed info: dis​cogs​.com [1, 2]

The name Atrium Car­ceri will surely ring some bells among lov­ers of dark ambi­ent. Well, Simon Heath is the man behind both that pro­ject and this new off­shoot, Sabled Sun. Music­ally, it’s not a very big depar­ture  from his usual works, but Sabled Sun is a very con­cep­tual affair: impres­sions from the exper­i­ence of a man wak­ing up from cryo­stasis in a post-apocalyptic future world. These two albums, both released in 2012, encom­pass the first two years of this story.

As you might expect in a pro­ject that is so expli­citly nar­rat­ive, the albums, par­tic­u­larly the first part 2145, have some­thing cine­matic about them, in the sense that the album notes and track titles give you some set­ting and story threads to play with in your ima­gin­a­tion, and that the music func­tions very much like a soundtrack. The build­ing blocks are the famil­iar ambi­ent synth pads, deep drones, and gritty tex­tures, but the res­ult is very much a series of ‘scenes’ and melodic themes to under­pin chapters of the story Heath wants to tell.

On the first album, I con­struct this mostly as the pro­cess of redis­cov­ery: the unnamed prot­ag­on­ist of the story wakes up in a changed world, sick, and dis­or­i­ented. Over the course of the album, he slowly comes to grips with his pre­dic­a­ment. It feels like an ardu­ous jour­ney through broken land­scapes, with des­per­ate attempts to pick up or send dis­tress sig­nals.

2146

The second album sees the prot­ag­on­ist dis­cov­er­ing the lights of an aban­doned city. Aban­doned by humans that is, as the robotic inhab­it­ants still keep the place going. These tracks seem a bit darker on the whole, chan­nel­ing a bit of that dysto­pian urban atmo­sphere of rain, bright lights, and deep shad­ows.

Seen from one angle, the soundtrack­ness of these albums is a bit of a down­side. At times, the music does fade into the back­ground a little, which isn’t really a selling point in music for the sake of music. On the other hand, the abil­ity to be in the back­ground and sup­port whatever else is going on is argu­ably the main strength of music-as-soundtrack, and in that depart­ment these albums suc­ceed admir­ably. Some­times they grab your atten­tion with a new hook, some­times they act as mood pieces for ima­gin­ing the story, for dream­ing, or even for work.

If you’re will­ing to take the leap and con­struct your own story for this soundtrack, the first two years of Sabled Sun will be very pleas­ant com­pan­ions. But you could also run it along with a spacey game, a comic, and the like—I was reminded more than once of Mark Mor­gan’s Fal­lout soundtrack, though more in terms of post-apocalyptic atmo­sphere and the abil­ity to sup­port other media than the music itself. But ulti­mately, there’s also just a lot of good dark ambi­ent in here, with a very hi-fi pro­duc­tion, and I look for­ward to see­ing what musical story bits Heath will come up with next for us to play around with.

Reviewed by O.S.

Track­list:

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1. Intro (2:28)
2. This Is Where The World Ends (5:49)
3. Aban­doned (5:22)
4. Ret­ina (4:35)
5. Sin­gu­lar­ity (6:41)
6. The Hideout (3:32)
7. Sig­nals (3:56)
8. Silo (5:15)
9. Date Expired (2:48)
10. Shattered (2:51)
11. The Facil­ity (2:17)
12. The Ancient (2:30)
13. A New Sun (4:28)
14. Acid Rain (4:47)
15. Transmission/Outro (5:33)

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1. Through The Gates (4:24)
2. Inner Sanc­tum (7:28)
3. Scan­ning For Life Forms (5:29)
4. Power Cell (3:54)
5. Exo Suit (6:55)
6. Grave­yard Of Broken Machines (5:08)
7. My New Best Friend (3:17)
8. Plan­et­arium (5:00)
9. Deep Within (3:23)
10. My Dying Robot (4:31)
11. End Me (3:39)

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