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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Arktau Eos - "Scorpion Milk"

Artist: Arktau Eos
Album: Scorpion Milk
Year: 2014
Label: Aural Hypnox
Genre: Ritual, Drone
Website: helixes.org/auralhypnox/

Scorpion Milk is the newest release from Aural Hypnox act Arktau Eos. It's one 48 minute track. It was originally released in a very limited quantity in 2006, and has been re-released with new packaging (which looks exquisite). Now, I should begin with saying that Arktau Eos isn't so much of a music group as it is a ritual/occult group. The music is seemingly a byproduct and/or accompaniment of/to this. That being said, the concept behind the band should be delved into before getting into the music itself as it is critically important in understanding the audio works of this project. The press release and liner notes do a better job than I could, so:

Arktau Eos have never considered themselves a ‘band’ in the usual sense of the word, although their experience in many bands has certainly lent them an edge in working with sound as a transmitting medium. Arktau Eos did not begin as a ‘band’ and certainly not as a ‘project’; behind the scenes, it is more akin to an esoteric exploration unit, a vessel of initiation. Since the beginning, the group has enjoyed a great rapport from outside the music scene, with many independent researchers confirming or augmenting their observations.

According to the liner notes, this album is meant to be a companion to their first album Mirrorion (which, unfortunately, I have not heard). However, they describe Scorpion Milk as being considerably more minimal and focused. As they put it: "a lone candle bearer who responds to no call but silence itself". The title comes from the fact that this album is withdrawn and latent, similar to a scorpion's sting (apparently). Again, it is important to stress that this "album" is a companion to esoteric research, so it must be remembered that this is only part of the full equation.

As the liner notes point out, this album takes the collection of instruments and aural elements used and strips them to their most bare and subtle core. This is immediately evident as the album is incredibly minimal. There are long stretches of a single sound or drone, occasionally punctuated with louder organic sounds which rise and quickly fall. It reminds me of Tibetan buddhist ceremonies, though darker and more unsettling. Definitely music for exploring the more shadowy aspects of the self and the universe. This is music for small, darkened spaces detached from the world, lit only by a single candle - beyond it hangs the black shapelessness of the shadow realm. It feels like walking through a vast, barren desert of black sand searching for buried artifacts containing ancient, arcane knowledge. The listener needs to put this on somewhat loudly with no other distractions and it will absolutely reach out, enshroud you, and suck you in to it's vortex. Over the 48 minute run time, the album ever so slowly creeps forth and builds energy. Honestly, it's a bit too slow for me as it doesn't start getting more interesting until about halfway through, but the final portion of it is very well done and interesting. It's a powerful mixture of entrancing droning, subtle vocals, and various formless sounds that speak to the listener on a subconscious level. This is the kind of album that would immensely benefit from accompanying visuals/movie/projections.

Ultra minimal music for rituals, to used when exploring the deepest chasms of the self. Good for quieting the mind and contemplation. The final 1/3 or so becomes very hypnotic and transcendental. However, for those not looking for ritual music and want background or more active CMI style ambiance, it can feel too boring and sparse. I love the packaging and all the information contained within and feel that this is a very complete album and work of art. I would like to see this level of commitment put into more musical works (from other artists). Will definitely please fans of Aural Hypnox and similar ritual music, and will probably interest fans of drone and dark ambient as well. Personally I prefer some of the label's other releases, but this certainly has it's place.

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