I could not help noticing that this is on a record label that shares the same name as Ultravox classic album from 1981 but let me assure you that all similarities end there. Dark Awake are an intriguing proposition and very much tie in with our atmospheric emphasis on this website rather than the extreme. The album is described as ‘apocalyptic ritual and neo-classical art’ and that is a more than fair description for this Greek one man act helmed by Shelmerdine VI°. This 40 minute album takes you on a real mystical trip, one that can be listened to as a complete journey or one that you could equally dissect into the nine tracks within it and look for higher meanings, which are briefly explained on the CD inlay case.
‘Anaphexaton Primeumaton’ starts off with droning almost summoning calls, orchestral keyboard parts which repeat and are joined by female spoken words provided by Sekte in their native tongue. I am instantly intrigued about the ritual unfolding in what is described as the first Enochain Key. There are crackles which sound like something is burning in the background and then big drumming booms take up their toll. This is incredibly atmospheric and it is like ancient history is unfolding. I am not going to take you on a step by step journey as there is too much going on but at the same time there is also hugely minimalistic structures to ensnare and ensorcell the listener. As we move to the title track one feels that you are traversing an ancient tomb and wonder if there are booby traps littered about to catch the unwary. Music takes on ambient, tribal and martial forms and is very chilling at times. There is a strange sound that is one I identified as the human leg bone being played thanks to hearing similar ritualistic pieces performed by the likes of Psychic TV. New instruments appear often and there is a huge array of them utilised. The piano is particularly effective when it comes to expanding the melody and this takes the music in a neo-classical orientation and one tinged in sadness as though it is mourning those long dead. This is no doubt spurred by eerie passages such as ‘Sigillum Of Cutha’ which exude a feel of dread and ghastly haunting. Apparently it is a representation of the descent to the underworld so my imagination runs riot in the right sort of direction.
Tranquillity and lightning of mood is found by acoustic strum and shaking / casting of bones as ‘Mithraic Mystic’a provides a very brief interlude. It is the gorgeous piano etched melody of Kia Mass SSaratu that really captivates though, apparently a ritual performed to summon the protective spiritual watcher, the spacey, dreamy ambience and that all too occasionally repeated melody is really quite spellbinding. Just when you think that all instruments at their disposal have been utilised the mournful cry of saxophone takes up its call over weaving piano and booming drum tolls. Of course this is all the work of just one person so it is obvious that Shelmerdine VI° has many strings to his bow.
This is really the sort of thing for late night listening with candles and incense billowing and it really did completely captivate me and draw me into the tombs of its rich ancestral heritage and magickal invocations. If it is something that sounds particularly interesting to you I would not hang around too long if you want to order as my disc appears to be numbered as one of just 300 copies.
(7/5/10 Pete Woods)