Kronom – Suffocate EP

Written on March 19, 2019 by Andrijan Apostoloski

Darkness is everywhere around. It’s you and your freedom of will allowing you to make a choice. Are you going to be scared of it, or accept it as a part of your very own?

Ignoring or being afraid of the dark always ends up the same, it will prevail you and dominate without a question. Accept it as is, learn to control it, and you will know when and where to use it wisely. If you connect with it, you can even dance with darkness and it shall show you many true paths, but if you see it as an enemy then there is nothing in its way stopping it to destroy you. Then you can be sure that it is your enemy, and nothing less or more.
But dark is dangerous and it works in malicious ways, so messing or playing with it is anything but wise. It deserves the uttermost respect for what it is, but you shouldn’t ever show any signs of fear in front of it.

It can be a great and powerful tool if used properly; not for negativity, but for something with a much greater meaning, such as expanding consciousness and achieving a bigger understanding of the behind the scenes of the universe we live in, using that energy to cleanse everything pressured inside you, shifting it to help and heal you. After all it’s simple… without darkness, there is no light at all. So why fight it?

The connection of darkness with music has always been fascinating to me, but it’s a rarity to feel it reach real black shadows and go anywhere near the real depths where the truth is hidden. But where are the true depths in the first place? What are they?
Perhaps the problem with this enigma and the solution to it lies in the complexity of the expressionism itself, specially in a case where using a medium of art such as music gives you the possibility to share a glimpse of someone’s universe and their very own window of darkness, or in matter of fact, any kind of energy.
A few thoughts back, what I really wanted to say with other words is that not all dark is good, even tho it is an essential element of every soul and literally everything around us.

For example, when I started getting into dark music at first I had this repulsiveness for the whole style and genre. It didn’t make a lot of sense at first, until I was totally lost with myself, and I needed something to listen and heal my soul with. Many albums and artists were forgotten because I didn’t resonate with the energy at all. Lustmord and Robert Rich’s Stalker is the first piece of dark music I recall that I instantly fell in love with. In my mind it took me to the zone (of Tarkovsky’s Stalker which the album is inspired from) and helped me understand what the true power of solitude and being with yourself means.
It put me in a mindset that allowed me to chew all the things happening in my life and change my perception for them as a whole. Just keep going on, another lesson added to life, ya know?

But of course, music or ambient won’t fix your problems automatically. You need to allow for the power to pass trough and just immerse yourself totally without a drop of hesitation. It will just help you change your perception of things into more cleaner and soberer way of thinking. After leaving yourself to it, and that is for any proper dark music including this EP, some things that bothered you just won’t have the same weight after that, if you really really listened.
This is an excerpt from an interview for DJMAG with Christoph De Babalon, a German producer and DJ known mostly for his 1997 album “If You’re Into It, I’m Out Of It”, a cult album that blends dark ambient with drum and bass and even harder breakcore rhythms.
Armed with a dry sense of humour and shrugged stoicism, De Babalon crucially doesn’t succumb to the persistent darkness, but does, as he says, “put a leash on it. I don’t let it take me over.” “I need to do it for my sanity,” he says. “It’s just a way for me as a person to deal with all the negative influence and turn it into something that is creative. It sounds very idealistic maybe, I don’t know, but it could be something like that.”

‘Suffocate’ is perhaps the most important electronic release lately, firstly for the Macedonian scene that isn’t used to these kinds of sounds and overall massiveness, and the international techno scene which I’m pretty sure will come into contact with this already kinda cult release from Kronom.

The EP is described as showcasing “a claustrophobic place filled with smoggy landscapes and desolated architecture”, and I totally agree with that vibe. But what I want to emphasize more about it, is that ‘Suffocate’ is perhaps the most important electronic release lately. Firstly for the Macedonian scene that isn’t used to these kinds of sounds and overall massiveness, and the international techno scene which I’m pretty sure will come into contact with this already kinda cult release from Kronom.
It can be seen as a short film directed by Kronom and from the start itself to the very end it is direct and constant with it’s message and ambience. It is a very mature release that is technically as professional as it can get, it sounds naturally open and very spacious without trying and the transformations and shifts that he gives us while we take the ride are made with marvelous patience and a proper sense of understanding the ‘hypnotic’ element in the electronic music.

For me ‘Suffocate’ is one of the better attempts to share a dark and cruel vision of something trough technology, trough techno. And the power of techno for me lies in its possibility to take me to another world. BPM isn’t important. Hi-hats really don’t matter. Nothing does, except for the connection of the artist with his work, and if he honestly and unconditionally gave his work his full energy and love for expressing. And that is something that I can’t really write about, but I can feel it endlessly here.
The honesty seasoned with dark matter (which is all around present in this release) make ‘Suffocate’ a very serious EP which is left to exist, and is yet to make a big mark in the deep techno and drum and bass scene as time passes and people start discovering this (relatively) hidden jam.
Here the power of Kronom doesn’t lay into his godly and massive atmospheric dark sounds and patience with his arrangements, but him dominating darkness and using it very wisely to express his visions for creating a world of his own in this crazy EP.

Don’t get me wrong, I can really praise this EP until tomorrow about the technical readiness, the mix and master, and other shenanigans. That can be achieved with time and practice, but in order to rule the darkness and use it to express yourself takes a lot of more time and experience. Or with other words, not anyone can do it so well like he does in this release.

K describes his debut EP as a trip into Brutalistan City. The whole release is crafted from sounds recorded with a field recorder, with additional tape loops and guitar pedals. Only this shows why I shouldn’t bother speaking about the technicalities of this EP, because I would never guess this without knowing, because it doesn’t sound like it. It sounds like a detailed trip into Brutalistan.
Kronom’s production is more on the techno side, blended with dark ambient on top and broken beats appearing trough out the EP. But like I said previously, nothing matters more than the artist being honest with his darkness and himself, and in this release it’s evident from the very start of the EP that the producer succeeds bravely and confidently in his vision.

It starts right away with an immersive and hypnotic track called ‘Ringer’ that lost me into this whole vision of me being alone and walking trough an almost dead city. Yeah, I was serious when I said that this EP is a short film on it’s own. The rhythm is everything around me that moves, so close, but still far away from my core self. The city is almost abandoned, but there is still some life going on, and yet, most of the time I’m alone and feel like the sounds of ‘Ringer’ are my only path to follow. Since the moment the beat starts, not nodding with your head will be very hard. The techno influences are obvious and are totally welcomed, the moment the hi-hats start rolling is a moment that gives you this feeling of total immersion in this forbidden and toxic world that we are going trough in this release. If you let it, it will provide you a great trip and will introduce you into the world of Kronom’s EP.

‘Suffocate’. Outside of the same city, some people believe that a place of purity and rose happiness exists. But does it? This track for me represents the search and path to find that mysterious place. We’re on a journey, all roads taken are forbidden and shortcuts are actually longer and more dangerous. Deadly indeed, everywhere you turn there is danger awaiting in the corner. The very fine line between getting out alive and getting stuck into this unrealistic world with an idea of something that doesn’t even exist in the first place. Is it worth it? This track starts with a large massive drone that tells you there is a lot more to come, but doing it with an unexplainable mystery in the skeleton of the sound. The rhythm that shines its “light” right after the first contact with the drone is this slightly distorted and rough forward sounding beat that just fits in the whole image, a very strong structure and groove for the EP name holder track.

The intro on ‘Smog Basin’ is just fucking crazy. The vibe on the start reminded me slightly of The Bug’s ’24 Hour Surveillance’ from ‘Tapping the Conversation’ with its brutal hi-hats on the beginning, but that’s all really. It evolves into a monster on its own in its very first ten seconds and tells you that behind this track there will be a lot of energy to follow, kinda warns you before you keep going ahead. As the track progresses it just gains more momentum and when the drums set into full play, know that all things are set in motion. This is the drum and bass of tomorrow. The snare entry is just genius, after it with addition of some more layered hi-hats the track starts to evolve into this danceable and almost tribal twist of dark deep techno and drum and bass. And while I reached the point of mentioning drum and bass here, I’ll say that the influence from deep techno is the best thing that happened for this genre. The future is intelligent and deep, and Kronom seems to manage to blend these two so effortlessly making it seem like a cake, when we all know (or should know) it’s not.

‘Magla’ stands for mist in Macedonian language. K shows his brilliance with his patience on this one, he shows us what we just listened so far from a bigger perspective. Or if you want to call it, the closure or the epilogue of this beautiful “film”. The crackles on the beginning give this track a sense of beautiful imperfection, this winter-like sounding beep signal in the background just adds to this eery ambience, and for some reason for me it’s the signature sound for the whole EP here. Patiently going forward and slightly adapting to the atmosphere, around the third minute we are introduced with this deep reese-like sound that just shivered me when I heard it for the first time. It sounds like the whole city of Brutalistan talks to you with all the pain and sorrow gathered in the brutalist concrete, now all forgotten and left to just die when the day comes. This track goes the deepest in the EP, at least for me.

After ‘Magla’ there are four remixes of each song following up from Rico Casazza, Rommek, T-Scale and Metalogue respectively, creating their own twisted versions of Kronom’s Brutalistan, making this EP last nearly 50 minutes.
It’s apparent that Kronom gave us a visionary release that has yet to explode and share its true powers.