Sunday, 8 September 2019

Darkstokhausen - AETERICA

Label: Hamfuggi Records
Catalogue no: N/A

  1. Obertura
  2. Destierro
  3. Coral de intención y danza
  4. Gnosis
  5. Cierre

The Spanish Hamfuggi label is a newcomer to the scene (being only a month old) but already their roster of nine releases shows some impressive potential (I reviewed Apocalypse Sounds’ Promised Land recently). This one was made available to the world last month (and is one of their first issues), so a review is still very much valid. However, having said that, while I won’t be reviewing all the material from their back catalogue over the next few weeks, I will be doing a few write-ups on some representative releases just to give readers a general idea of what the label’s general philosophy is.

Darkstokhausen is Ariel Jesus Milillo, originally from Rosario, Argentina, who is quite an eclectic character, judging by his biography at least – musician, sculptor, adventurer, writer, mystic, self-taught gnoseologist, occultist, and ordained Orthodox Bishop of the Eastern Orthodox Church (currently non-practising). He studied music at the National School of Music in Rosario and then, at age 20, moved to Barcelona, and cites as his influences free atonalism, Italian Futurist, and post-war avant-gardism. However, don’t be fooled by all the above – it might sound rarefied but what we get on AETERICA, given its obvious occult influences, is five tracks of drone and deeply occult atmospherics. (In the press pack there are reams of background information, albeit in Spanish [I can’t speak the language but I get the general gist of it nevertheless], including a 54-page booklet called Nazarayana: El Camino Hacia del Barjah [Nazarayana: The Road to Barjah] which goes into some depth about his esoteric studies, following his studies into Jesus’ teachings before St. Paul changed them and invented Christianity.)

But what does all this amount to in terms of AETERICA the album? I won’t pretend to have read the book (because I can’t) but I will take the general mystical tenor in which it’s been composed and base my review around that. In other words, does this work as a standalone piece, or is the background absolutely necessary to ‘understanding’ what’s going on here?

The short answer would be no: even if you ignore the foundational beliefs upon which this is based, this suite of drone ambient compositions is still well worth a listen. And the drones contained within are deep and spacious, reverberating endlessly and penetrating whatever centres in the brain that induce states of spiritual euphoria. It’s also a sparse album, in that there are a lot of spaces between the oscillating waves, allowing the mind to explore and the listener/psychonaut to experience these five tracks on a deeper, more manifest level. And, believe it or not, one can feel an apparent depth of intention and meaning pouring out from every one of these pieces.

‘Obertura’ (‘Opener’ or ‘Overture’) wastes no time in establishing its occultic intentions with a distant oscillation providing a backdrop for a drone that feels almost sentient, a plane of rasping sound that appears to be communicating something. Other flavours of drone stab in from time to time, in both the high and low registers, injecting counterpoints and exclamations. Here is, then, the prima materia, the base element that requires transformation and refinement, an element mired in matter that needs to rise above itself in order to move on. ‘Destierro’ (‘Exile’) is just that, a separation from the base matter of material existence and earthly interaction, a necessary prerequisite before one can perform the transfiguration of the spiritual self. Staccato grunts and drones, echoing and repeating, presage the act of dividing the spiritual essence from matter, so that the operations can begin. This is the preparatory period, the cleansing and purification, so that the aspirant is adjudged to be suitable in the eyes of Godhead. A reverberant intonation makes the aspirant’s case, and sets the stage for the next act.

‘Coral intención y danza’ (‘Coral of Intent and Dance’ – forgive me if this translation is wide of the mark) announces the start of the ritual – here is the beginning of a new life for the adherent, a sloughing away of the old and the embrace of the new. Treated vocals fly high while another voice entreats, and a drone flutters around both above and below them. Next, if the petitioner is successful and works at his labours, comes ‘Gnosis’, the knowledge of the spiritual mysteries. It’s a long and arduous journey, beset with dangers both real and apparent, all of which must be overcome and understood before the key is presented and the lock opened. Even when enlightenment is finally achieved, there is still much to learn – an aspect of the Work that must be fully appreciated and absorbed.

Once the operations are finished with, the ritual must be closed, to call back the spiritual body into the real world again. AETERICA ends with ‘Cierre’ (‘Closure’), the slow withdrawal from the upper realms of pure essence and back into the quagmire of matter. Once more an oscillating drone buzzes in, breaking up and granulating as the spiritual essence gradually becomes less refined and coarser until at some point it disappears altogether, and the undifferentiated matter of this plane takes over. The adherent may have come back, but he’s brought a glimpse of the higher levels with him, and it has changed him.

An abstruse esoteric exegesis to be sure, one that needs careful study if you want to get the most out of it, but such in-depth study is not necessary as the underlying currents and connections flow freely here and can be physically felt, even if they’re not fully understood. One can approach it from the standpoint of the initiated or just come at it as an exercise in just appreciating the music. Either way, it reflects what many believe to be true of Scripture: there’s a superficial aspect, intended for those in the profane outer, and an occult facet, intended for the select few in the sacred Inner precincts. In both instances, immense satisfaction can be had.

Available as a digital download from Hamfuggi’s Bandcamp page:

Psymon Marshall 2019. 

1 comment:

Jordi Heras Fauque said...

Wonderful writing of one of our most beloved releases. Thanks so much!!