Carbon Based Lifeforms – Refuge
Soundtrack, ambient, downtempo.
Carbon Based Lifeforms present the motion picture soundtrack: Refuge. The film is “a suspense-thriller about a family struggling to survive in the wake of a great catastrophic event… the film is about never feeling at ease, always trying to find refuge and seeking refuge” – how well the music captures this spread of emotion. Repeating themes tie the experience together whilst shifts in structure, tone and atmospherics greatly alter the mood from one piece to the next. RCA(+) opens the story with a warm, dreamy cloud that gradually brims with gentle melodic forms, a lazy bass fades in and a hazy, bright synthetic theme sparkles, then a restful beat of the kind that CBL do so well completes this utterly blissful awakening. Subsequent tracks develop the elements of the opener in different directions: Birdie beatless and plaintive – a reverb drenched piano picking up the theme; RCA(-) introduces a more uneasy feeling, with peculiar crackles and faint atonal disturbances flecking a steady, tense, gathering drone texture; the theme distorted and densely buried in the mix – a massive climactic build up. Leaves has us back in sun-dappled reverie – the now familiar melody lines buoyed up on another gorgeously tranquil programmed beat. Less typical of CBL is the penultimate Escape – a dynamic trance piece that picks up the pace with a burbling sense of menace that only dissipates when the last pulses of bass echo reluctantly away. Marauders concludes in prowling, beatless, ambience made somewhat emotionally ambiguous by sounds that seem to lie somewhere between water drops and bird calls.
Since this is a digital release and a movie soundtrack, artwork at its most basic consists of the rather sinister cover image of a trail of dark figures whose presence threatens a modern home. A powerful, near-monochrome image that points toward the darker aspects of the album; you can almost miss the red tint in the twigs and the sky. More realistically though, Refuge was composed as accompaniment to the suspense-thriller of the same name: promotional material informs us that “Refuge will be screening at festivals this Spring through the Fall and will be coming to Europe for screenings. And beyond that it will be available theatrically and for download, but it will pass through the festival circuit first”.
Daniel Segerstad and Johannes Hedberg have released a series of extremely high quality ambient, drone and downtempo albums since their inception in 1998. The subtle, yet powerfully cinematic style of their music is so aptly suited to soundtrack work that it was surely only a matter of time before they took on a project of this nature. The seven tracks of Refuge, however, are an emotive listening experience in themselves: a deceptively simple theme explored from varying perspectives and presented in strikingly different forms – from evocatively minimal ambient through some of the most deliriously beautiful downtempo through to driving dark trance. You can hear the music at the band’s Bandcamp page and there are a range of purchase options at the Leftfield website.