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Cities Last Broadcast - The Cancelled Earth [Cyclic Law - 2009]

Pär Boström has mainly released music under the Kammarheit moniker but has chosen Cities Last Broadcast as the name for this, his latest project focussing on desolation as its theme.

The general sound here is familiar from incidental music often employed to add tension and suspense in dystopian computer games or TV and film dramas. Particularly, it conjures up those scenes where abandoned dwellings are being tentatively explored by torch light. To achieve this effect Pär draws exclusively from an aural arsenal he has been developing over the past decade featuring field recordings of indistinct voices, the built environment and nature’s elements alongside more melodic devices that sound like processed strings, gongs and bells.

Each of the seven tracks of The Cancelled Earth follows a simple, almost identical structure that fades in and out with a single extended loop or tone. In between it is joined at regular intervals by a small selection of other sounds, each taking their turn to attack before decaying into their own reverberations. Rhythmically this creates a slow ebb and flow as individual layers break on each track’s tidal path. This is particularly the case with both ‘Antenna’ and ‘Architecton’ where the combined effect describes a polluted shore at night dredging discarded remnants from the neighbouring deep.
Occasionally the most minimal of melodies accompany this wash, often played on processed strings usually consisting of two or three gently repeating notes a semitone apart. Indeed the album’s finish drops all extraneous noise layers to reveal the detail of its celestial violin loop in full, possibly as a last lament to life before decline. As such, The Cancelled Earth feels less like a last broadcast and more like a requiem for lost civilisations.

Despite its simplicity, the mix is rich in detail where the colliding subharmonics of each ghostly combination immediately impose visions of barren landscapes. With each track adopting the same, singular strategy and slow but steady rhythm, the album when taken as a whole can have a soporific effect as The Cancelled Earth weaves its spell of decay on the fading senses.

Rating: 2 out of 5Rating: 2 out of 5Rating: 2 out of 5Rating: 2 out of 5Rating: 2 out of 5

Russell Cuzner
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