AMN Reviews: ProtoU – Memory Alpha (2022; Cryo Chamber)

Timing is everything. Dark ambient purveyor ProtoU (Sasha Puzan) releases her first album in several years as her home city of Kyiv is under attack by invading forces. We truly hope that Puzan, other Ukrainian musicians, and Ukrainians as a whole remain as safe as possible throughout this strife.

It is hard not to let current events color one’s interpretation of Memory Alpha, but suffice it to say that the album explores a sci-fi dystopia with perhaps a few brighter moments. Employing deep drones, layered synths, field recordings, and electroacoustic elements, this offering is a prime example of its genre. Case in point, Soul Machines absolutely pulses and throbs over strange noises from unidentifiable sources and crackling static. In addition, ominous melodies repeat through the foreground in a cinematic fashion. In contrast, the title track takes a more traditional approach, with sweeping, airy waves and textures. Replica is a menacing, alien soundscape that offers jarring processed synth that morphs into machine bleeping and indistinct voices.

Throughout Puzan maintains a cosmic listenability, evoking futuristic nightmares, massive dreadnoughts hanging in space, dying stars, and maybe a bit of hope now and again. Regardless, Memory Alpha is very well done and gets two thumbs up.

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