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Randal Collier-Ford - Remnants (2015) - Review

Band: Randal Collier-Ford
Album title: Remnants
Release date: 20 October 2015
Label: Cryo Chamber

01. Monument
02. Horns Of Eden
03. Remnants
04. Dies Illa
05. Suspension Of Icarus
06. Eye Of The West
07. Black Garden
08. Pale Horse
09. Decaying Sun
10. Revelations

Randal Collier-Ford's second album Remnants on Cryo Chamber is the most highly polished work of his to date. Over the last few years, Randal Collier-Ford has been putting out a number of albums across several labels, but Remnants is unquestionably his most dynamic release so far. With Remnants the industrial noise is toned down a bit in favor of some highly atmospheric and cinematic dark ambient. The elements wind, water, fire, can be heard throughout the album along with the more human sounds of footsteps and an impending sense of doom. Yet Remnants doesn't stray too far from Randal Collier-Ford's signature theme of magical machines in a sci-fi setting. Remnants touches on many different genres within the electronic/ambient realm, one moment the album is as brooding as a creature lurking in the shadows and the next moment it feels as if you are listening to the grand soundtrack to some yet to be written Alien movie. Soundtrack is a word I kept coming back to while reviewing this album. Remnants would be a perfect soundtrack, more importantly Remnants proves to us that Randal Collier-Ford was born to work on sci-fi/horror films! It seems as if Randal Collier-Ford is making a statement with Remnants, saying he can produce anything he puts his mind to.

Randal Collier-Ford is constantly changing pace and direction throughout Remnants keeping the listener at full attention and begging for more by the end. "Monuments" opens the album with a very gently drifting drone, occasional sounds of electrical currents flicker in and out, an eerie synth line draws the listener in as the track opens into a highly cinematic experience. It feels like Randal Collier-Ford is working on a new level in this track. I hear everything I love in dark ambient here, the gentle sweeping drones and synths blending effortlessly with abrupt yet equally subtle percussion and a constant layering of mechanical sounds. "Monuments" ends with a truly eerie panning back and forth of some obscured percussion. As the listener is held tightly in the trance we move into "Horns Of Eden" a highly esoteric song with a plethora of interesting sounds. It seems ambiguous in its theme, there is a beauty and serenity to "Horns Of Eden", yet there is also a warning. The deep bassy undercurrents of the track remind the listener not to settle in too comfortably. "Remnants" is the most cinematic track on the album, with many field recordings. Close your eyes and follow the track as we are given a tour of the inside of a dark workshop. Alchemy abounds here. A slow hammering and footsteps are heard, with a fire roaring in the background. This gives way to a dark spirit rising from the plumes of smoke, screaming for its freedom. As the project is completed we are left in a cold stormy darkness, as if peering out the workshop window upon a gloomy, wet, decrepit city. "Dies Illa" (These Days in latin) ups the energy levels again after the dank setting of "Remnants". "Dies Illa" is another reminder of how well Randal Collier-Ford can/will do at writing soundtrack music. Over the short three minute track we are given a taste of a world of different emotions and themes. Its as if we have been pulled into a whirlpool of feelings and settings as they fight for dominance. "Suspension of Icarus" follows the well known ancient Greek story of Daedalus' son, Icarus. Icarus was given mechanical wings, bound to his back with wax. His father, the brilliant inventor Daedalus, warns his son before they take flight to never fly too close to the sun, for it will melt his wax and he will fall from the sky. Randal Collier-Ford gives a wonderful aural representation of this centuries old story. "Eye Of The West" is another highly esoteric track. Field recordings abound as we are given a feast of sound from all around us. A deep bass note roars repeatedly through the track as mechanical and otherworldly sounds pull us into the mix. "Black Garden" is the darkest track on Remnants. Deep reverberations envelope the listener as they are sucked into the abyss and shown the ghastly wonders of the demons within. "Black Garden" is another track that begs to be used in a horror movie. You can almost imagine the dark gloom-laden setting, so foggy the eyes can barely focus on the creatures moving about. A sense of wonder and dread are expressed simultaneously as if we don't want to see what is in front of us, but closing our eyes will be of little use. "Pale Horse" seems to further realise these demons arising from the depths. As if going mad from fear, there is a barrage of emotional turmoil. Deep drones rumble, cinematic synths fade in and out, accompanied by a heavily industrial backdrop and the subtle yet jarring sound of an innocent bystander singing or humming a beautiful tune. "Decaying Sun" is a futuristic adventure. A strong sci-fi influence resides over the track as an almost radioactive drone abruptly and consistently pulses over the more subtle robotic sounds lying just beneath the surface. We can imagine a desolate planet that was once called Earth, being seared by the heat of the sun, given no respite by our thinning and increasingly useless atmosphere. What starts at the beginning of the track, with signs of life, ends with an isolated despair. Life as we know it seems to be gone, our planet wasted. "Revelations" is a fitting end to a bleak and dynamic album. Probably the most interesting and unexpected track on the album, "Revelations" almost leaves the realms of the dark ambient genre completely, ending the album in a beautifully dark electronic/ambient song with percussion, bass-lines and a perfect touch of atmosphere. 

Randal Collier-Ford is clearly happy to leave his comfort zone. He could have written another album similar to The Architects and kept his fan-base happy. However, he decided to continue travelling further off the beaten path with this release. There are so many feelings that arise while listening to Remnants that only one thing is certain, Randal Collier-Ford has full control over the listener, he can take us when and where he pleases. This journey is reminiscent of the things that make dark ambient and industrial music so interesting, yet it looks forward, it reaches out into the unknown, paving its own path along the way. Remnants is highly recommended for lovers of sci-fi oriented dark ambient and it is a breath of fresh air from the industrial side. Randal Collier-Ford seems to have taken all he has learned in these genres and produced something very unique and unexpected for us to enjoy.

Review written by: Michael
Rating: 9/10