Monday, May 26, 2008

Arktau Eos - Mirrorion (2006)

Although it is traditional to focus on the band, and in particular, their music, this review would be incomplete if I did not mention their label. Aural Hypnox is a tiny Finnish label dedicated to releasing disturbing ambience centred around the Helixes collective, all distributed in beautiful and unique packaging with a strong handmade touch -- a refreshing alternative to the Fordian production mentality that dominates in the the music industry. (This CD is contained within an A5 six-panel cardboard box.)

Arktau Eos proudly proclaims that _Mirrorion_ is devoid of electric instruments, which would be an empty statement if uttered by, say, a black metal band, but of greater import when uttered by a dark ambient act. In lieu of electric instruments, "the natural, inherent vibrations of wood, bone and metal" are used, a description which includes the predictable and the orthodox such as an acoustic guitar as well as other, more unconventional and disturbing instruments such as kanglings (Tibetan trumpets made from human thighbones), accelerating steel-plate rolls, and singing bowls, which collectively weave a minimalist sonic tapestry. There is a strong magicko-spiritual aspect, not only suggested by the cyclopic cover sigil, but also by their own interior proclamations and song titles, which suggest a Thelemic influence; magic influence or not, strong ritual atmosphere is sustained throughout the album's lengthy playing time.

With seventeen tracks at just over an hour, this certainly is an ambitious release; however, while it may be obvious that it will not appeal to everyone, even dark ambient fans may struggle to appreciate its beauty, as drones, which provide the underlying structure for much of the genre's work, are noticeably absent. Nonetheless, it remains a stunning example of the genre.

Review taken from Chronicles of Chaos.

01 - Raising the Oceanic Alpha-Axis
02 - The Star-Sower Awakens
03 - Mana Infusion
04 - Black Tongue - Translucent Mind
05 - A Banquet for Ghosts
06 - The Bone-Orchard
07 - Secrets Concealed in Ash
08 - Language of Embers
09 - Quickening the Crystal Body
10 - The Vitric Portal
11 - Labyrinth of Thousand Lanterns
12 - Lotus of the Underworld
13 - Silver River
14 - Nether-Desert Iris
15 - Obsidian Pyramid
16 - Beacons in Polar Light
17 - Dissolving the Starlit Mandala