Halcyon Chamber

Halcyon Chamber

Written by: LF on 30/01/2015 16:31:27

Halcyon Chamber is an electronic project by Jason Baron from Philadelphia. On this first release, he presents five tunes that are primarily ambient music but intertwine with post-rock and classical music as well. The name of the project points to a mythical bird called the Halcyon "with the power to calm the rough seas and quiet the waves during the harsh winter solstice", as the press release reads. In this way, the concept of Halcyon Chamber is very clear and appropriately enough the release incites incredible calmness and is at times very meditative as the compositions constantly float around the listener.

The fleeting soundscapes are droning and fluctuating and this means that the record doesn't have much of a unified direction overall. Rather it presents itself as an open landscape that invites the listener to explore and follow it into unknown expanses. While the five songs that make up the album are all sufficiently different, going through various degrees of ambiance with different instruments in front, they don't all lead to equally intriguing places. "The Space Between Worlds" starts out the record in a soft and ethereal manner with twinkling sounds and reverb-laden, female vocals in front. While it's just as repetitive as the other tunes here, this song has more of a clear structure than most, as it evolves through the addition of guitars and small changes in the shimmering layers of synthesizers that make up its elusive backbone. "Vignettes" and "Fading Sky" come next and play like crossovers between post-rock and classical music with dominating strings and piano melodies. Of these "Vignettes" is the standout track as it successfully introduces a far-away haunting chant as if it was hidden in a thick mist, before it gradually becomes clearer and clearer with the addition of a steady, echoing rhythm, a clear piano riff, and heart-tugging strings.

These three mentioned songs all have fairly normal song lengths between three and five minutes, but the last two make up a curious pair. "Our Dance Under a Lake" is the most rhythmic of all the compositions here, but it's also very constant in its intensity and ends far too soon. Through its barely two minutes of rolling pianos, it leads us nowhere except into the most ambient track of them all, the ten-minute droning album ender "Death of the Universe". This last song succeeds in communicating the feeling of a massive, empty space through vibrating background noises and echo effects while it gradually becomes darker and darker in the process. It is the most purely ambient track of this record but while this makes it stand out, it doesn't build up to anything as much as it just intensifies and dissolves randomly with no recognizable riffs or structure throughout.

So while the concept of the project that is Halcyon Chamber is indeed very clear, the execution of it is not yet perfect. Many of the moods the record sets are intriguing but I constantly get the feeling that there's not enough time to explore them fully and they thus come off as curiosities that don't have the weight needed to pull me in and keep me entranced. The musical ideas themselves are still interesting and I can only hope that the next release from this project will be a more elaborate and time-consuming one.


Download: Vignettes, The Space Between Worlds
For The Fans Of: A Winged Victory for the Sullen, The American Dollar, Sigur Rós, Explosions In The Sky
Listen: thehalcyonchamber.bandcamp.com

Release date 30.01.2015
Fluttery Records

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