CD, Cyclic Law, 2009
“The Cancelled Earth” is the first album from Kammerheit side-project Cities Last Broadcast. Judging by the sound of Kammerheit and the fact this album was released on Cyclic Law, one can probably accurately guess what they’re going to be hearing for the next 47 minutes…
“This Cancelled Earth” is a very droney dark ambient album which apparently is predominately built from the field recordings of places like train stations, tunnels and airports. What do you think of when you hear the phrase “dark droning ambient”? Well, if you think of huge, dense, brooding passages; fog enshrouded landscapes with strange and distant clanking; and/or abandoned construction sites, than you are probably imaging exactly what this album sounds like. I hope your list also includes ‘boring’, because that is also an integral characteristic of this album. When I listen to this, images of extensive, dark, and generally dreary landscapes of long abandoned manufacturing towns coalesce in my mind. The strength of “The Cancelled Earth” is that it is able to achieve convincing and fairly colossal atmospheres even in its stark minimalism. Unfortunately this minimalism is also its downfall, as this album really is quite uninteresting. Each track plods along incredibly slowly while sounds are brought in and out throughout, but during active listening I always find myself feeling a bit bored and ready for more to happen, yet it never does. The changes are subtle and buried within the ever-moving main drone of the track. During extended listening it is hard to distinguish one track from another because they all employ the same general sounds and atmosphere, causing them to run together. In my opinion, the best track on the album is ‘Deadpost’ (which unfortunately is also by far the shortest). This track has some great droning pads which bolster the atmosphere and make it feel like there is still some life out there in the darkness. The closing track ‘Architecton’ is similar with its almost-melodic drones. Unfortunately this is pretty much the only time you will hear anything akin to melody on this album. Still, fans looking for stark, oppressing dark atmospheres will not be disappointed with this album (just perhaps a bit bored).
In conclusion, this is indeed a very dark, brooding slab of sound with solid, consistent production, but it seems to be destined to the confinements of background listening as there is really very little that is particularly engaging.
— Dan Barrett