Shibalba’s ambient and meditative dark trance is, in their words, intended to “guide the subconscious of the individual to dream beyond the skin of matter & to dream in ecstasy and exult”. Overtly inspired by the East, there are Tibetan horns and singing bowls and other traditional instruments, which are associable with mystical sounds and worlds.
The opener kind of sent me to sleep with its soft sound waves. I suppose that’s the idea. There’s a constant drone and a cosmic air with the occasional sound of a gong, a soft drum and a haunting chant. The sounds do develop. “Kaoshiiki Mahayana” is a kaleidoscope of cosmic and ritualistic sounds but there would never be anything brash. These sounds, accompanied by the haunting chant and ringing bell, are discreet and an in the background. It’s as if there a fog in the air. This air suddenly becomes colder, darker and more obscure as the mystical world of “Aether Ananda Aiwass” develops a disturbing element. “Naljorpa” takes on a still darker and more dramatic edge, and I suppose if I were to use my imagination, it suggests the interface with death. This is agonised ritualistic chanting of a kind I’ve never heard. Then a cosmic soundscape sweeps though. This, I understand and I’m not sure that I do, is the world of esoteric science. Although dream-like, the cascading piano and choral chanting of “Reanimation of Akh” have a very dark edge. The gong sounds, and whispering accompanies the echoing, shadowy darkness of “Five Points of Desire”. The swirling misty atmosphere returns. Ah, an orgasm. The moans of “Orgasmic Inebriation” are appropriate to the title. I hadn’t thought of that one to this point. I liked the hypnotic, clattery rhythm. Now we’re reaching the heights, in an ambient way of course. Four minutes in, it goes dark, so I don’t know what happened there. Echoing, haunting sounds fill the space. A droning organ, replete with almost industrial sounds, is the retort. The sounds become symphonic and akin to a film-score. I’m not sure that fits in with the spiritual nature of this work but “Opening the Shadow Box” is undoubtedly dark and atmospheric, with its haunting drone and mix of obscure sounds. The drone finally becomes cosmic as for the final five minutes we drift away into space before it crashes to an end.
I understand the meditative nature and concept of transcending the Self to a higher place, but I did think that I have been more transported to this higher place when I’ve been to Buddhist temples. In fact the album seemed to drift away, literally, from the mystical world in which it starts. “Psychostasis – Death of Khat” came across to me as a series of experiments in sounds. It’s interesting at that level but even Orgasmic Inebriation didn’t transport me elsewhere.
(6/10 Andrew Doherty)