With this stunning artisan masterwork of mesmerising atmospheric dark ambient music, German solo musician Thomas Langewehr beckons tantalisingly to each listener; each neophyte, offering the promise of deep esoteric delights and eventual sacred gnosis and rebirth, but at an ultimate cost.
From the first deep stirs of sweeping synth notation in opening track “The Settlement”, and the delicate, finely-placed piano keys, the doors are thrown back and we are immersed in an ancient, different world, alien to a modern ear, and stretching far beyond along the marches of dim antiquity. The sweetened, rhythmic plucks of a solitary lyre, weaving its enchantment through the sultry night. It’s hard to avoid or suppress the blossoming trance sounds. And then, as softly and surely as it began, the song ends.
“Carpe Noctem” thickens on the air. A dense, swirling cloud of incense-laden flames, of sandalwood and myrrh, and a muted ensemble of female voices, all to the passionate beat of mystic drums; powerful, unquenchable brass passages sweeping over the lush, carpeted earth. We press on, drunk and heady on the blanketing melodies. And soon, without a word, “Beneath”. The soft drip of subterranean trickles, and the deep earth knocking. A waver of whispers; echoing cave sprites, and a thin reedy flute, from far away, deeper into the cool shafts, and always calling. We have come to a sacred space, and the reverent tones are never broken, or blemished. A vast chthonic pulsing rousing the deeps. A privilege to be here at all; that much is clear.
“Initiation” follows, breaking from the unknown. Heavy bass drums sound steady from the shadows, and the wonder and euphoria of the previous minutes gives way to an eerie, reverberant sweep of bleaker synths, contained and severe. The clash of metal on stone, and a sinister guiding horn, urging care. The sharp shudder of a cymbal and a long, breathy withdrawal. The rest is unclear, pushed too far out into stark, yet tenebrous notes. And then, ushered in from outside, an ultimate finalizing silence. Time is severed.
“Dawn” brings a gentle, relieving counterpoint to the previous fear and unease, by now all but evaporated, and quenched. Scintillating piano prickles, like the sun on spring icicles. The steady effervescent tap of melting droplets, and a wettened grotto’s cold stone floor. There’s sadness, but a rewarding poignancy also. A rare beauty to this piece, stirring velvet life back from the grim frost of our unnameable, intoxicated slumber. “Reborn” glides gracefully over the ears, like the billow of muslin vestments in a light wind. Wrenched, wrenching strings segments stir with impassioned yearning, and yet with regret. A lament for the sublime. Expansive, and unforgettable. Then a sharpened spread of minor notes, and again that sinister, savage edge, a feral space beyond mortal grasp. Light percussive scratches, like inverted howls.
A “Ritual” is composed, pounding out of the daybreak’s haze. Unalterable, and irrepressible, with no quarter given to gather the senses, we are cowed into timorous awe before the ordered, militaristic procession of horns and the contrasting blasts of wild brass, this untamed rite. Then an eventual relief, as the storm relents. The ominous peals of a single metallic bell, and the sudden warmth of that forgotten lyre, plucking its beatific truths. The working has begun, as it has ended, with the last jubilant strum of the lyre, like the slightest of gathering ripples sleeking out over black waters.
“Banished” will speak for itself, as well it can, and does, beset on all sides, a blazing clarion through this age of sounds. The ritual was enacted. The participants dispersed; by whatever means or hands. The Divine is as it was. The uninitiated may retain their ignorance, and the long dismal ages are devouring of the rest.
I found no fault to be had in the excellent conceptualisation and orchestration of this fantastic, fiercely ambitious concept album. It’s a real joy of sonic art from beginning to end and I can only recommend it with the firmest pleasure. My words barely scratch the surface. Listen, carefully, and you may truly begin.