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URUK - Mysterium Coniunctionis

Mind Travels is a series curated by the label Ici d'Ailleurs accompanied by photography from Francis Meslet and published as the book Mind Travels. Previous releases in the collection have included Aidan Baker, Stefan Weselowksi, Geins't Naït, and Orchard. URUK, a collaboration between Thighpaulsandra and Massimo Pupillo, is the latest addition to the series. Thighpaulsandra is as we know the idiosyncratic solo musician behind such expansive releases as I, Thighpaulsandra, two volumes of Double Vulgar and the stunning sounds of The Golden Communion. Besides being a former member of the Julian Cope group and Spiritualized, he was a member of Coil, and more recently was part of UUUU alongside Graham Lewis of Wire. Massimo Pupillo is a member of the Italian jazzcore group Zu, as well as Triple Sun. He has collaborated with FM Einheit and recently worked with Gordon Sharp of Cindytalk and currently features in the Zu93 album Mirror Emperor, a collaboration between Zu and Current 93. Mysterium Coniunctionis is the second album from URUK following selected live performances and a debut album, I Leave A Silver Trail Through Blackness, released last year on Consouling Sounds. Mysterium Coniunctionis takes its title from a Carl Jung book on alchemy and it is just as nuanced and immersive as their debut but this time harsher elements abound within the subtle flow of ambience and drone.

Mysterium Coniunctionis starts off pensive and suspenseful with the first few minute of 'Spagyria' filled with heaving synths draped over fluttering electronics. Slowly unfolding it sweeps up elasticated squiggles, clipped elongated shrieks and rippling spatial effects slipping almost into silence. Haunting Coil-like synths (somewhat similar to the synths on 'Are You Shivering?' from Musick To Play In The Dark) emerge cut with all forms of darting spatial effects which become increasingly harsher as careering blasts of noise pass between channels. Hollow piano notes tinker over ominous drone based sounds mutating into a static whoosh before it transforms once again, amidst waves of heaving synths, into something almost ghostly orchestral. At this point, almost two-thirds of the way in of this 20 minute track, I'm reminded of the sounds of Michael Begg and Human Greed and the sound of entropy found within their great album World Fair. I'm a sucker for these drone ridden orchestrations and the end section of 'Spagyria' is truly beguiling as it drifts off into somewhere more lush and pleasant.

'Spagyria' like 'Solve Et Coagula' refer to alchemical processes and it is quite apparent within the sound the two musicians are applying these processes extracting and separating sound elements, allowing them to ferment before blending them to create these two side long pieces of electronic music. The soft drone that opens 'Solve Et Coagula' is accompanied by loose bass pulses and crunching tones that pan between speakers like the sound of marching feet. Underneath there is the gentle sway of melodic synths along with see-sawing drones as a wash of noise shimmer rises and dissipates before settling into a section of ringing, drone based sounds that arch and drift. Harsher sound segments pierce the still ambience before it intensifies as a dazzling whoosh of white noise with a marked increase in volume which is dangerously loud. The noise haze is akin to being bathed in a cleansing ritual. Fortunately, it subsides into a faint haze of cinematic synth chords accompanied by shuffling and crunching spurts of slo-mo industrial techno.

Honestly I don't know if listening to this unaware I'd guess that Thighpaulsandra was involved here; his solo work can be so dense and involving crossing genres even within a track. Mysterium Coniunctionis, like their debut album I Leave A Silver Trail Through Blackness, is steeped in layers of synths and drone based sounds. The sounds within Mysterium Coniunctionis are mysterious, nebulous and crepuscular and pitched just right to complement the abandoned castle photographed by Francis Meslet which features on the sleeve. It seems, however, Coil will always be a reference when Thighpaulsandra is involved. So here goes: the label Ici D'Ailleurs were behind the Coil tribute album The Dark Age of Love; it's there in the name of Massimo's project Triple Sun, there are traces in some of the synths and sounds; and it is there in the theme of alchemy - although URUK are not turning shit into gold. URUK are transmuting sound mixing organic and acoustic with electronic instrumentation. On its own, the way it should be approached, Mysterium Coniunctionis released on CD and vinyl is thoroughly absorbing, immersive and thoroughly engaging. For more information go to Ici D'Ailleurs or URUK bandcamp