I.corax - Cella Phantasma [Aural Hypnox - 2013]I.corax are a dark/ritual charged ambient two piece from Finland, and they are part of the Helixes collective that features projects such as Halo Manash & Arktau Eos. The material on Cella Phantasma dates from 1999, but has only recently re- surfaced, and the release takes in eerier & lo-fi mixers of blacked ritual tinged ambience that’s laced with more subtly noisy electro acoustic elements.
The I.corax project started at some point towards the end of 1998, and brings together the duo of Anti Haapapuro & Jaakko Vanhala. So far the project have put out six or so full length CD/CDR releases, and these take in: 1999’s Suns(a self release), 2003’s From gOLDem Flesh To Silverb ONE(on Finlands Blue Sector), 2003’s The Cadaver Pulse parts I & II( also on Blue Sector), 2004’s Kuilu( a live recording on Blue Sector), & 2005’s Spectral Metabolism(on Finnish noise rock/sludge label Kaos Kontrol). Though I’ve heard many of the projects in the Helixes collective, such as: Halo Manash , Arktau Eos, Zoät-Aon (Vanhala’s solo project), Aeoga(another Haapapuro project), Aural Holograms & Aural Hypnox - this is the first I.corax recording I’ve heard.
So what’s the material like on offer here, you ask?...well as one would imagine if you’ve heard any of the Helixes collectives other work, the release offers up four tracks in all, and each of these squarely fits into the dark & ritual charged ambient box- through there are a few electro acoustic & lo-fi electronica elements added into the mix here ‘n’ there.
The four tracks last between six & twelve mintues a piece, with two tracks on either side of tape, or all four tracks on one CD. I’m reviewing the CD version of the release; but you can pick it up in either the CD version( in a edition of 350 copies), or the cassette version( in an smaller edition of 50 copies).
First up we have “Hunt”, and this track opens with a moody ‘n’ eerier swirling/ slow-motion darting of slightly intergalactic toned dark synth tones. Fairly soon this is joined by a on/off muffled rhythmic bashing tone, which is weaved by these (clearly sampled) word-less male ritual chants.
As the track progresses the sampled chanting get more prevalent, and this takes on the central focus of the track, along with the less often bashers & thinned back synth textures. The track has fairly unpolished & sonically simple make-up to it, but the slightly off kilter/wonky dark psychedelic edges make the whole thing oddly appealing.
Next we have “Kneeler” which opens with a eerier mix of wishful yet haunted synth drift, and this slow scraping texture- which seems to slow reverberating around the track. As the piece progresses we get more mournful & wavering synth voice like textures added in to the track. Then about mid-way point a more consistent & semi rhythmic ritual crunch ‘n’ scrape is added to the track, along with a lot of reverb effects.
Track three comes in the form of “Naos”, and this ten minute track starts off being built around a sustained ‘n’ brooding sinister synth tone, which is played over by subtle yet building banks of crackling electro acoustic textured tension. With-in a few minute this reverb & echoed chopping synth layer has started up, & becomes the central focus of the track- this element rather brought to mind the type of electronic textures used of Autechre’s 1994 album Amber. In the tracks last half we get sampled blacked chanting added into the mix too. On the whole this track has quite a nice 80’s/ early 90’s satanic horror movie soundtrack vibe to it- when the echo/reverb synth element first starts-up, you think the tracks perfectly pitched sinister atmosphere has been ruined, but fairly soon it starts to make(slightly wonky) sonic sense….so I guess you’d say the tracks some what of a grower ;-).
Last up we have “Nexion”, and this track is built around a mixture of wavering ‘n’ swirling sinister organ/synth, persistent metal/wood scraping patterns, and reverb licked wind like atmospheric swirls. The subtly noisy scraping elements reminded me of me a little of Raison D'être work, but the synth/wind elements seem more lo-grade horror movie soundtrack like.
Cella Phantasma clearly doesn’t stand up to the extremely well tooled, atmospherically sophisticated, & wonderfully defined ritual ambient air of the likes of releases from Halo Manash or Arktau Eos. But on the whole the album has a certain simplistic, lo-fi & eerier charm to it, sure at times it does come across as a bit too undeveloped, dated & even amateurish, but it mostly remains rewarding.Roger Batty