Album Reviews

ATLAN

A Review of “ATLAN” by Thomas Jones
A secret truth revealed: Beauty and the Beast are the same
thing. Soriah’s chimera fusion with Ashkelon Sain has
produced a sprawling entity, darkly cloaked in groaning
atmospheres, yet emanating an ascending light of inestimable
beauty. Atlan is a deeply organic experience. Crisp hand
percussion palpitates rising drones in a cellular blood-rush
of life. Long, open expanses of slowly shifting tones hang
like low clouds in a frosted mountain range. And when the
Quetzalcoatl Kundalini of Soriah’s lyrical throat singing
fires down the spine, everything goes astral. Quivering
strings and chimes offer allusions to Arabo-Andaleusian
textures which run rivulet alongside Tuvan strains
throughout the dreamscape. Dead CAN dance to such music,
because this is the music of the underworld; the music of
hidden places visited by beings beyond the corporeal. Both
artists have long pedigrees; some 40 years of live and
recorded musical experience between them. Soriah has existed
under that name for over a decade, having released several
albums and known for performing all places mystical,
including trees, churches, caves. He has also been
recognized, through international competition, as one of the
top 5 throat singers in the world. Ashkelon Sain’s Trance
To The Sun project is legendary. And his composition skills
have been honed razor sharp with his more recent Submarine
Fleet. The collaboration is a match made in Omeyocan (the
highest Aztec Heaven). Each of Atlan’s 11 tracks is a
unique, carefully carved sound-mosque. Like minded soul
miners Terry Riley, Huun Huur Tu, SPK’(Zamia Lehmanni)and
Robert Rich are good touchstones for what’s in store, but
trying to aptly describe the sonic majesty of Atlan may
require divine intervention.

ofrendasdeluzal

“OFRENDAS DE LUZ A LOS MUERTOS” A review by Kieth Boyd…I recently read a line of truth that hit me like a pile of bricks. I can’t remember if it was an album title, a chapter in a Buddhist book or what but given that truisms can come from the mouths of saints as well as scoundrels I suppose it hardly matters. The line that affected me so was this, “Bliss and Void Inseparable”.I read these words and at first blush dismissed them. At a distance they don’t appear to have much to do with each other. But still the phrase stuck in my mind and didn’t seem to want to let go. Bliss and void, bliss and void. It cycled through my thoughts at odd moments. I’d be watching ocean waves ebbing and flowing across golden flecked sand and after trancing on the beauty of this for awhile I’d flash on that phrase. It revealed itself to me slowly and made me see both its surface and hidden face. This slow unfolding now gave way and the weight of truth flooded in rapidly. We experience bliss in a fairly specific manner. Bliss is not necessarily pleasure. It is the charge we experience when our nervous system is firing off on all cylinders. It’s the end-point of all fiery extremes and at its heart lies the self-consuming void. From deep in the midst of bliss all identity is cancelled out. Every boundary of body and mind gives way and we connect with interbeing. I suppose sexual ecstasy is one of the more frequent times we experience the Bliss/Void state. Other instances might include deep meditation or exhaustion or the effects of certain drugs. The ultimate meeting place of Bliss and Void however id death. Religion has always held to this as a part of its final mystery. Soriah, Portland-Oregon musician, performance artist, shaman, understands this well. He’s reaching out to wrap his fingers around Death’s ribcage and give it a shake. On his new disc, “Offrendas De Luz A Los Muertos” (Bllr-Records) he’s using his art as a bridge towards understanding. We are all going to die. Death is our home. It is the ultimate end road of all “selfness” and as such is perhaps not to be feared but rather embraced. So what does it sound like? Well if you are familiar with Soriah’s last album, ‘Chaos Organica in A Minor” you are in for some surprises. Whereas that album used layers of church organ as a sonic bed, this time out it is primarily a blend of voice, ritualistic percussion and long haunted tones of synthesizers that create the sound. One thing remains a constant from the last disc and that is atmosphere. This is some heady sound here. You emerge from a listen with your head swaddled in a pre-linguistic fever dream. Hoots and whispers collide and chase each other through the mix and just when you start to feel comfortable or certain of the terrain another movement begins and you’re back in the mist. Comprised of two longish tracks, “Offrenda.” is a wonderful and moving piece of ritualistic sound adventure. There is plenty of room within this music for your own visions and dreams. I find it even more pleasing than Soriah’s last disc and that pleasure extends to the packaging. Wonderful Dias de Los Muertos designs festoon the heavy stock board cover. Inside are hand drawn sigils and signs of indeterminate meaning. The care that went into the look and sound of this disc is impressive. Several times during any listen as you are swept away in the clanking and organic soundscapes you will hear a small voice at the back of your awareness whispering, “Bliss and Void Inseparable”.

CHAO

“CHAO ORGANICA IN A MINOR” A review by Aquarius Records…After numerous, super limited, self published and hand made art editions, this is Soriah’s first proper release, and it’s totally breathtaking. Two lengthy pieces, for vocals, pipe organ and effects, Soriah conjures up a haunting sonic otherworld, drifting, dreamy, menacing and malefic, a rumbling, whirring dark ambient dronescape, thick with the natural timbre of the wheezing pipe organ, and dense with subtle overtones from the various vocals. A deft mash up of ancient classical musicks and modern experimental drone based minimalism, a heady blend of Messiaen, Mirror, Coleclough, Dead Can Dance, Jacula, Niblock, and Eastern ragas. A dusty old pipe organ, built in 1881, lays the groundwork, a rich, thick, multilayered bed, subtle overtones, rich swirling drones, notes and melodies shimmer and beat against each other, creating strange movements, a thick wash of chordal whir that pulses and breathes like it was alive. The organ is intertwined with various vocals, sometimes crooning, alien and operatic, but more often an impossibly low-end rumble, a dense and deep Tuvan style throat singing, buzzing and multilayered, more like some strange long stringed instrument than a human voice. Crumbling and corrosive, but at the same time soothing and ethereal. The vocals drifting through various effects, become smears and stretches that blend and blur into the overall droneworld. Definitely one of the darkest and dreamiest drone records in recent memory, and all the more compelling in that this is not just a simple tone or set of tones, slowly shifting, know this is a rich and vibrant live ritual, you can feel the organ vibrate, the vocals curl around you like some ripe exotic smoke, this music is alive, soft and inviting, but dangerous and dreamlike. A bit like SUNNO))) armed only with church organs, and accompanied by Huun-Huur-Tu, a massive physical drone, a huge deliriously suffocating wall of rumble, like laying at the bottom of a pit, eyes closed, and being buried alive by soft sound. So good.

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