SiJ :: The Earth Shrine (ΠΑΝΘΕΟΝ)

The Earth Shrine is not your typical eco-ambient. It pays homage to the global mystic paths once trodden in reverent balance, while hanging like the shroud we may need to wrap the planet if we continue to turn a deaf ear to its cries for more moderate behavior.

SiJ :: The Earth Shrine (ΠΑΝΘΕΟΝ)

This Yaroslavl, Russia based label creates absolute artworks—note the heft and quality of the slipcase for Creation VI’s six-hundred thread count drone trilogy Tetragrammaton, a Renaissance Kabbalist’s fever dream; sounds, words and images over which to ponder the ineffable name of the Almighty.

Vladislav Sikach from Sevastopol has only been conjuring ambient both deeply dark and animistic as SiJ since 2011, but its discography is already bulging and this is not his only project. This is the second shrine he has built, after The Water Shrine. I hope he plans on covering all the elements. The Earth Shrine is not your typical eco-ambient. It pays homage to the global mystic paths once trodden in reverent balance, while hanging like the shroud we may need to wrap the planet if we continue to turn a deaf ear to its cries for more moderate behavior.

SiJ musters a wide array of sounds acoustic and electronic, a library of field recordings, several hands on singing bowls (including Creation VI) and sparse percussion downloaded from kindred spirits Bill Laswell, Robert Rich and Rapoon. The air has time-traveled from the Paleolithic. Like an ethnomusicologist of fantastic worlds, SiJ sinks us into the “Ancient Land of Agartha,” said to exist at the center of the world, an uncanny organ creeping up the collective spine of the Vernean expedition, making the journey a pleasantly harrowing one, though described with the light, filigreed hand sorely missing from too much dark ambient. From inner to outer space, SiJ articulates the “Lost Voices from Finisterra,” an earth-like planet created by sci-fi author C. J. Cherryh that proves less than welcoming to its human colonists; the indigenous flora and fauna are sentient and use “the ambient” (true – look it up) to make life miserable for them. Whale song drone imagines the telepathic communication these creatures use.

“Gate of Life and Death” is where all that collected percussion comes together in a fiendish break from an otherwise buoyant album, which regains floatation mode on the finale, “Last Prayer of Quetzalcoatl” (fertility icon of Mesoamerica), which drips into an unfathomable pool still as a millpond, ringing with bell tones both plummy and jingly, but in air freighted by a choir of desolation.

The Earth Shrine is available on ΠΑΝΘΕΟΝ.

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