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Musterion - The Wondrous Journey Through the Catacombs of Life

From the maddening labyrinths of Kafka and Lovecraft to the subverted reality of auteurs such as David Lynch, the mind has served as centre stage upon which a theatre of disorder is arrayed and played out. It is only natural then, that such theatre sits comfortably also within a purely audible medium. Simon Kölle, having a background in theatre and music, is well placed to further explore the demonic shades of the subconscious through his compositions. Musterion, the Greek for 'secret' or 'unrevealed knowledge', is his latest solo project; one through which he can question and examine the inner worlds of occult and surreal substance. The Wondrous Journey... represents the second full length Musterion release. Presented in a lavishly constructed digipack, along with a twelve page illustrated book (that possess subtle nods towards Crowley and Lynch, especially Mulholland Drive era Lynch), the images set into play a dark journey replete with demonized childhood imagery. A sub-theme of the album seems to be descent (almost in reverse to the journey undertaken by Lovecraft's figure in The Outsider). The curtain lifts with the opening track, 'The Elevator Down', here the sense of drama is allowed to gradually unfold as a violin menacingly capers upon a floor of expansive sound that burgeons, giving a picture of expansive surroundings. Elsewhere field-recordings of mechanical sounds guide the listener along with the main protagonist as they make their descent. All the while lush compositions bleed momentarily into the light and elements of tension are hinted at through tentative keys. The coalescing of such sounds serves to narrate the drama, to give it flesh in the listener's mind; the product of which is an unsettling, nightmare-theatre of sounds that both captivates and chills. Dark ambient or, simply, Darkwave may be terms used to describe Musterion but they are too vague because at time the conjoining of child-like memories with a bruised and tortured mind on tracks such as 'The Crocodile and Napoleon' and 'Junkies and Agents Disappear (Lover I Hear You)', conjures up Satanic suites of discordant melodies blistered by metronomic manipulations and string arrangements that manifest apprehension and terror. While classical nuances ground some of the sounds, the theatre of madness continues to grip one as Simon carefully employs disembodied voices, reversed and reverberated sounds, as well as improvised strings to continually unsteady and surprise the audience, as good theatre should. The madrigal-like tones of Susanne Cermenius becoming almost a mantra on 'Follow the Black Spider'. The imagery of Puppetry, Victorian dolls and even an icon from the Twentieth Century all add to the surreal theatre that Simon fleshes through his music and sounds. Such images and broken music boxes, indeed, call to mind the muddied world of Neil Jordan's The Company of Wolves. The overall atmosphere The Wondrous Journey... conveys is unsettling and disturbing; a pursuit of dreams and nightmares that climaxes in a final descent, and a transformation. The Wondrous Journey...' succeeds because it places a fresh nuance on the genre, and is capable of continually challenging as well as engaging the listener within ever encroaching walls of insanity. For more information go to by Michael Cunningham)