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Keosz - Be Left To Oneself (2016) - Review

Band: Keosz
Album title: Be Left To Oneself
Release date: 19 April 2016
Label: Cryo Chamber

01. Be Left To Oneself
02. Occurred
03. Forfeited
04. Forlorn
05. Traitor
06. Insecure
07. Clearance
08. Low Down
09. Before The End

Erik Osvald of Slovakia makes his Cryo Chamber debut with the dark ambient/drone album Be Left To Oneself. Osvald's background in other electronic music genres is evident throughout the album, as he is able to effortlessly and inconspicuously blend a wide variety of elements into each track to make them have a larger than life feel, with each track fitting together pefectly yet having clear differences in style and execution from one another.

Be Left To Oneself is the perfect accompaniment on lone excursions through urban and industrial districts of any metropolitan area. Especially potent on a warm and slightly overcast evening, the sounds of Keosz bring out an almost futuristic yet always quite melancholic atmosphere. Crumbling concrete sidewalks, billowing smokestacks of poisonous gases, streetlights cutting through the haze, these scenes are all brought to life by Keosz. Riding the metro, suspended above the city, I feel almost at one with its industrial qualities, yet at the same time I feel a sense of infinite expanse to the industrial realms of our world and an extreme insignificance as a sole human wandering through these expanses. This is quite different from the feel I get from most dark ambient albums as they often tap more into an inner personal conflict, or lend themselves more toward an ethereal, horrific, or mystical theme. I particularly love albums like Be Left To Oneself, where we can truly feel at one with our modern environments. Even if they leave us feeling quite inferior in their presence.

Be Left To Oneself, as a whole, feels like an extremely well executed album. Themes and emotions felt carry over well between tracks while each track still holds its own identity. I don't have any particular standout tracks which I would say I enjoy much more than the others; nay, the whole album stands out. With this said, I would put Be Left To Oneself in a category with albums like White Silence by Ugasanie or Istid I-II by Northaunt, both albums where the artists took a theme and applied it to the full album in a way that helps it flow effortlessly between tracks and simultaneously increases the visual awareness of one's own environment. The difference obviously being that with the two previous examples winter and a polar northern climate are at the center of the theme while with Be Left To Oneself it seems that a warmer urban setting is mandatory.

While the entirety of Be Left To Oneself is quite amazing, a few individual tracks are certainly worth mentioning. "Occurred" is one of the darkest tracks on the album. A deep gently rolling sub-bass line is the foundation of the track, giving it a bit of a sinister feel, while the highs have a more airy serenity. The combination at once makes the listener feel that sense of darkness that I love in this genre, while also giving them a need to progress further and a hint of light at the end of the tunnel. "Forlorn" takes on a bit of a different vibe through the addition of vocals within the layers. A barely audible mid-range male vocal line is layered over lighter almost cello-like synths. This combination reminds me of Subheim in its dark beauty. "Clearance" is an example of how Keosz is able to make an emotionally charged track in the most subdued fashion. I find similarities here to Council Of Nine's latest release Diagnosis, in how it portrays a deep loneliness and sadness without going for the usual tropes and gimmicks to achieve this goal. "Before The End" is quite the magnificent closer to this album. Following on the template that a decent number of Cryo Chamber artists use, the last track of the album is a bit more musical than the rest, with more noticeable percussion. I look back to Atrium Carceri "End Titles" as the possible originator of this concept. It is used very well here, as I feel it is on most of the albums I am alluding to. The extra momentum and added percussion ends the album on a very high note, making the listener all the more eager to go right back to the beginning and start the experience all over again.

Keosz brings a lot to the table with Be Left To Oneself. This album is another clear sign of how Cryo Chamber is unafraid of branching into various realms of the ambient/dark ambient/ noise/ drone/ soundscape genres. Keosz is clearly a highly talented addition to an already impressive roster of musicians. I would highly recommend this album to... just about anyone. There is enough darkness to pull in the Atrium Carceri/Svartsinn/raison d'etre fans, while it has its analogue and warm aspects which lend themselves more to fans of artists like Circular/Bad Sector/Subheim. The album has an even flow which holds the listeners attention from beginning to end. There is enough going on here musically to keep a listener actively entertained, while it is subtle enough to be used well as background soundscape. Another well constructed output from Cryo Chamber, which will be a wonderful and lasting addition to many people's collections.

Review written by: Michael
Rating: 8/10