A Journal Of The Dark Arts
a black mass. a journey across the abyss. a soundtrack for The Dark Night Of The Soul.
Outer Tehom by Ukrainian sound magician Oleg Puzan is a blinker of a modern dark ambient masterwork; 4 13-minute long tracks, designed to take you beyond the Chapel Perilous, and into the Outer Dark.
The word Tehom is Hebrew, and means Deep or Abyss. It represents the Dark Waters that G_d moved across in Gen 1:2:
The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.
These dark waters also correspond to Tiamat, the Sumerian serpent of Chaos, that was slain by the hero Marduk, and whose cleaved skull became the Earth and the Sky.
Here, in this one word, one passing reference, we can see a simulacrum of light vs. darkness, order vs. chaos, rationality vs. nature; a duality that is frequently explored in the works of Black Metal, which may be seen as a return of the repressed, as the Earth-based Pagan religions break through the concrete of the modern world, and begin again.
Why would this be desirable? Why would we want to stare into the void? What is to be gained by this darkness?
In the old age Creation myths, there seems to be a supposition that logic and rationality triumphing over chaos and the darkness was inherently a good thing. In the world of 0 AD, this was undoubtedly so, as villages could be swallowed whole, in an instant, by mudslide or Viking ship (alright, I’m not sure if Vikings had begun marauding at this point, but bear with me, for the sake of making a point), life expectancy was roughly 25 or so, the world racked by illness, barbarians, tyrants. The dark was a thing to be feared, when you’re living in a cave. Anything that could promise an end to disease, hunger, danger, and discomfort was inherently a good thing.
So to even question this is most definitely a mark of privilege, of living in the citadel of modernity, in the lap of luxury (although i’ve only eaten 2 meals in the last 5 days, so call that luxury if you like). But i’ve got no marauders outside my gates, no locusts laying eggs in my eyeballs, so it’s all to easy for me to question the merits of civilization, and the triumphs of the mind.
Still, if rationality were all that grand, why the ennui and malaise of our modern day (all our modern days. It’s been like this my entire life, as far as i can picture.) What, exactly, is the problem?
The dissonance begins from what i like to term “the limits of the mind.” One does not have to be an advanced metaphysician to grok Korzybski’s adage, “the map is not the territory,” ie., the word/symbol is NOT the thing that it represents. Language is a superstructure overlaid over reality, like a fine chickenwire mesh. Again, not entirely graduate level philosophy.
But what is one to do, when one seeks the essence? When one goes looking for the shining, pulsing soul of a work of art, a place, or even, heaven forbid, another breathing Human Being? Very quickly, the language goes out the window, and we are lift in a dim and dusty world of guessing, hunches, impressions, memories, and suppositions. One of the first things we discover, when we set the mind aside for a moment, is how much our own conditioning colors the things we encounter. Maybe you met a person once with brown hair, and they kicked you, and now you narrow yr eyes against all brunettes. It sounds ridiculous, when you put it like this, but it happens all day, every day.
As an album/media reviewer, this layer is a subtle but very essential component, that is almost universally overlooked. While one’s experience with a piece of art is vitally important, and it’s important to be honest and up front, it’s only a slim portion of what happens in a review. Because a piece of art is a relationship with its creator, the intended audience, and the tradition as a whole. To review properly, one must be familiar with each of those aspects. This requires, by default, not being you.
Outer Tehom became my soundtrack for self-annihilation on a blue-lit Nov. afternoon. I have begun a very heavy prolonged occult ritual, and chose this, almost arbitrarily, as the soundtrack for correspondences, pouring over parchment and woodcuts as Dronny Drako’s dark winds and sinister whispering poured over me.
As usual, i began this quest towards the goal of uniting with my own soul, of being my True Self. This process has been going on for the past four years, since about a year before i started Forestpunk, and in a way, this site could be viewed as the fieldnotes of that journey. I had an opportunity to write an article about a ritual of my devising, and rather foolhardily chose the path between Yesod and Tiphareth, on the Tree Of Life.
You always think, working with magick, that it’s going to be epic and sublime. Yr totally going to have super powers, shooting laser beams out of yr eyes, while men and women pour out adulations. The fact of the matter is that every serious evolution i’ve had in this life has been somewhere between a mental meltdown and a heroin withdrawal.
I threw my whim to the winds, and cast the dice. Within 24 hours, i’m ill, i’m starving, i’ve been fighting with my girlfriend and my roommates hate me. My epic sublimity is walking desolate bike paths for hours, in the night, in the rain. Barren, forlorn, forgotten; a non-person, an anti-man.
And this is what i asked for. This is what i crave. And a dark wind blows…
The funny thing is, you think working magick is like making a wish, that you’re going to man the helm and steer the vessel, and these glyphs and incantations are merely ways to hack the nature of reality (which they are, but in a different way). This pre-supposes that you know, exactly, who you are and what you are supposed to be doing. If that were true, you wouldn’t need to change anything. And let us remember Jesus’ – popular symbol of Tiphareth – path led him to the poisoned chalice, the lonely garden. He didn’t want it, either, and he was the Son Of God.
The fact of the matter is that i do feel that this is my calling, and i always have. Since the age of 18, i drew my lot and sealed my fate, “I will make a living with music and Art, or die trying.” Ah, the foolhardiness of youth. Since that time, that proclamation has led me to homelessness, insanity, perpetual starving, creative frustration, isolation from my fellow Human Beings, and much, much more. And still i walk the path, putting one foot in front of the other.
Thus the image of St. John’s Dark Night Of The Soul, which is a period that tries the faith of the faithful. It’s keeping going, when you can’t even see G_d or the Angels anymore, can’t even remember what they looked like, and are beginning to doubt you’d ever seen them in the first place. You will be without friends, without love – wandering in Limbo. Beyond words and labels and conceptions – you will be a bundle of raw nerves and fevered thoughts. I’m told that even the thoughts stop, leaving you with nothing at all.
As the hours transpired, as i concluded my research and stood up to stretch and try to scavenge some victuals, I had listened to Outer Tahom three or four times. What had started out as menacing, pitch black dark ambiance had actually grown quite comforting. I’m beginning to find a foothold in the darkness, here were there are no maps. I just want to be a good artist, so i will continue. Will there be anything left, at the end? Thy will be done.
Very happy to finally get a chance to review something on Cryo Chamber records, some of the finest purveyors of modern Dark Ambient. This genre is essential to the mission of Forestpunk, with its combination of drones and processed field records, meant for rituals and the evocation of alien worlds. Somewhere in the intersection of Dark Ambient and the Mississippi Delta, the dark heart of this project pulses like a radioactive diamond.
Cryo Chamber release all of their albums in high-def, 24-bit .wav files, and makes for a killer immersive listening totality. Check this one out, and work backwards.