Atrium Carceri, the dark ambient project of Swede Simon Heath, is one of the most recognizable names in the genre, with superbly atmospheric sound design and a rich, involving mythology that has sustained him through a dozen releases over 15 years.
Heath was born in Stockholm in 1977 and began experimenting with field recordings as a child, creating looped audio soundscapes that he would play in his bedroom. He began making what could be thought of as dark ambient music as a teenager, before he even knew the genre existed. Upon discovering he was part of a scene, he hooked up in 2000 with fellow Swedes Donald Persson and Simon Kölle to form Za Frûmi, a darkwave/neofolk project inspired by Tolkien's orcs. The project recorded three main albums and four instrumental "Legends" albums, and also spun off the side projects Abnocto (medieval dark ambient) and Knaprika (psytrance). Heath's debut album as Atrium Carceri ("Prison Hall") was 2003's Cellblock, released on the popular dark ambient/industrial label Cold Meat Industry. In a scene that had until then been largely industrial-influenced, Heath's unique, cinematic, field-recording-heavy sound was hailed as a breath of fresh air. He went on to release six more albums on Cold Meat before the label collapsed in 2011. His deep, isolating soundscapes were rigorously crafted, benefiting from "psychological observation of test listeners," while the liner notes of each new album contained a chapter of an overarching larger story. Kept deliberately vague in order to allow the listener to draw their own interpretations, it seemed to be about the remnants of mankind enslaved by Lovecraftian elders in a barren, post-apocalyptic future. After the collapse of Cold Meat, Heath relocated to Oregon and set up his own label, Cryo Chamber, which focused on collaboration. Over the next few years it went on to become one of the leading labels in the dark ambient scene, releasing many excellent albums by a great range of artists from all over the world. By 2018, Heath had released five more Atrium Carceri solo albums on the label, as well as several collaborative releases. He also released sci-fi-oriented, soundtrack-esque work as Sabled Sun, and downtempo/chillout as Krusseldorf. He rounded out the decade with two more solo releases under the Atrium Carceri banner, 2018's Codex and 2019's Black Stage of Night. ~ John D. Buchanan, Rovi