Wednesday, 21 August 2019
Various - Palaces of Darkness
Album: Palaces of Darkness
Label: Black Mara
Catalogue no: BM-22
1. Sol Mortuus – Muv-Anki
2. Corona Barathri –The Kingdom of Nav
3. Nubiferous – Xvarenah
4. Mrako-Su – Autumn of Time
5. Ad Lucem Tenebratium –Spirit of Water
It is only through darkness that light is revealed, a fact that many are reluctant to acknowledge. Our whole existences are intertwined with dualities: light/dark, good/evil, Heaven/Hell, up/down, and light/heavy. Without the presence of these opposites, we wouldn’t be able to comprehend the world. But it’s not quite as clear cut as some would have you believe: the ancient Chinese realised that reality isn’t delineated strictly through black and white, but there is an interdependence and connection between them, and that the conversation flowing between one with the other is what constitutes the basis of the reality we live within – hence the philosophical conception of yin and yang.
Darkness, as a result, is often misconstrued, in the mistaken belief that its only attribute is concealment. But, as this five-track ritual ambient compilation from Russian label Black Mara attests, it also possesses the capability of revealing. As a prosaic example, on a clear, cloudless, and moonless night the darkness announces the glories of the starry heavens, bestowing upon the observer the only comprehendible view of infinity we’re ever likely to understand. In the same way, the temples of the mind, built within the darkness of the inner world, can only be revealed in all their magnificence against the black backdrop.
We are ushered into the act of constructing the foundations of the spiritual temple through the auspices of Sol Mortuus’ ‘Muv-Anki’ – it begins at the moment when the sun has set and the sky has begun purpling. It’s the time when the world subsides into quietude, the interval before the occult forces of creation and conception stir themselves at the behest of the officiants. Slowly, with infinite deliberation, the materials for the manifestation of the Palaces of Darkness and Night coalesce into being.
If ‘Muv-Anki’ is the prelude to the creation, then Corona Barathri’s ‘The Kingdom of Nav’ is the invocation, a declaration of purpose and intent to the gods themselves. A woman’s voice calls out, evoking the genius loci into manifestation, seeking its cooperation in the task. The plea is answered: subterranean breaths and twisted drones emerge from the very soil beneath her feet, and a tribal rhythm materialises, creating both the blueprint and the framework for the work ahead. Lights shimmer, waver, float, and pulse randomly, perhaps waiting for a signal. And then, under some secret direction from an unseen and unfelt source, lines of force begin marshalling and the blobs of light attain purpose and function, moving intently to assigned places.
An astringent metallic ringing drone then pierces through, announcing that it’s Nubiferous’ turn to delineate the evolving architecture. The word ‘Xvarenah’ has power here, establishing and inviting an indwelling spirit to take up residence. A resonating, chiming bell is that invitation, a strange attractor to which an entity will gravitate. Without its power, the building is nothing more than an empty shell, a pretty façade with no other use. By the time we reach the epilogue of the track, we get a sense that such a guardian deity has assented to share its power and assumed residency.
‘The Autumn of Time’ begins with a solitary flute, around which faint drones interweave, the palace now almost complete. Power is beginning to accumulate, their vortices swirling and coiling around its metaphysical columns and cloisters, and then funnelling into the Holy of Holies inhabiting its centre. Power isn’t something that amasses in an instant – it builds up gradually, and only attains its apotheosis through the energies of its adherents over time. Mrako-Su’s contribution builds up subtly, evolving into a quickening heartbeat, incrementally filling the esoteric spaces with pulsing function and potential.
Ad Lucem Tenebratium’s ‘Spirit of Water’ is the conclusion, the final consecration when all the forces, both physical and mystical, converge and manifest fully. Chanting now occupies the palace’s internal spaces, resonating through all the multifarious planes of existence and confirming it as a nexus of spiritual power. Energies spark and flicker, gravid with life and possibilities, ready to congregate in the name of some greater purpose.
All five tracks together form a kind of esoteric narrative, an inner one that has its parallels in the real world: it’s almost a spiritual manual for building the inner temple. The palaces referred to here aren’t the dwellings of earthly kings and queens, but of the spiritual entities where the real power exists: those streams of energies which, focused on an arcane singularity, exert enormous if unfelt and unseen influences on the world around us. Each of these pieces takes a chapter of this mystical story, delineating the stages one goes through in order to achieve whatever goal is ultimately focused upon. It also warns us that darkness is as essential to the understanding of those forces as light is, thereby creating balance. Too much of one creates imbalance and chaos to the detriment of the other.
Taken together, this is a deeply mystical journey through the dark recesses of power and alignment, the steps necessary to manifesting one’s own Palace of Darkness. If nothing else, it emphasises that darkness should never be shunned, but incorporated along with the light into every part of one’s life.
Available as a digital download and CD with a hardcover A5 book, attached photos, and a pendant smelling of juniper and spruce – purchase from link below:
Psymon Marshall 2019.