Thursday, April 20, 2006

CD Review: Raison d'etre - The Empty Hollow Unfolds

Glorious, minimalistic, disturbing, mysterious, and meditative all describe the dark ambient experience of Raison d'etre's The Empty Hollow Unfolds. The five songs represented here (the longest clocking in at just over 20 minutes) are a further fine-tuning of Peter Andersson's experiment with music that delves into the subconscious mind.

A solemn Latin chant and the strike of a tower bell begins “The Slow Ascent”. Wind-brushed chimes and echoes of industrial landscape flow over us as we climb from a deep, cavernous humming to transitory choirs in the celestial heights.

Warbling elements usher us into “The Hidden Hallows”. Metallic hinges creek as a chilling wind blows through. Then ghostly sirens begin mourning and slowly scratch unseen nails across the walls. We are transfixed by their song until dawn rises, releasing us from the enchantment. The sirens bang upon the abandoned shell in submission as the heavens open to bathe us in light from above.

“End of a Cycle” is the most oppressive piece--cold, impersonal, industrial noises, deep drones, and foreboding homilies in a forgotten tongue swirl around us and then, like waves, rise up and subside, rise up and subside, until diminished by time.

The second to last track is, in my opinion, the highlight of the album. If there were an experimental sound piece which through subliminal exposure could induce dementia, this is it. Unsettling, restless, foreboding, and powerful, “The Wasteland” is a realm where spirits of the slain harmonize over shifting, screeching mechanisms of the industrial age. The music is like a finger probing inside the darkest recesses of the human psyche to uncover our most primal fears.

“The Eternal Return and the Infinity Horizon” is a conclusion that leaves you begging for more. There is a sound like a man trapped inside a machine, then silence. Brief rushes of an airy or watery nature flow over and disappear; then again, but faster; and again, even faster. It is like awakening from a coma. A sound like a foghorn drifts through the mist. There is an impression of dangling chains. The way seems treacherous. Are we prisoner on a ship sailing the river Styx? When we near land, a tribal horn beckons us ashore. We step off the boat and our previous senses shatter. Something holy and righteous is here...


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