Imagine going to sleep and never waking up.
Death can be a fearful concept. For some it’s the act of dying, for others it’s the idea that there’s something unknown beyond it. But if there actually is nothing beyond death, then there is nothing to dread. No sensation, no reality, no consciousness. If we are to define death as an intangible realm, then we can also define it as the absence of physicality, lying behind all the known bodies of the universe. Whatever you take your source to be – the Bible – the Upanishads – Plato’s Republic – there is always an understanding that the void is the bedrock of creation. As Alan Watts so aptly puts it, “emptiness is the mother of form”.
Immundus’ third album sees the reality beyond death, or its questioning, addressed in a very forthright manner. In the past Bruno Duarte’s preoccupation has been with horrific and foreboding sounds and atmosphere, but this time round the execution takes on a more spiritual tone. Bounded to Eternal Time and Space is not an album whose cause is to unsettle or attach the listener to a state of mental trepidation and instability, but to walk the path of the soul from the moment of death to the rebirth of the body, all the while presenting both the light and the dark elements associated with this journey. For Immundus, there definitely is something beyond death.
And it is very much a ‘journey’ we undertake. Whereas many dark ambient albums like to drop us onto a dystopian landscape and prod us with their own atmospheric prompting, there is something far more unearthly about Bounded to Eternal Time and Space. The travel here is metaphysical only. Immundus sees death as not an end-stop but a transition, with the void underlying our posthumous trajectory rather than enveloping it.
As with many long journeys, this one has several destinations, each being highly distinct. Immundus presents multiple different scenarios to us, all with their own particular identity and tone. In spite of the fact that this is a journey beyond death, at no point do we feel a sense of overbearing negativity. More than anything Bounded To Eternal Time and Space is a refreshingly ethereal album, meagrely hinted at by the light miasmic cover artwork, put together in collaboration with the talented and excellent Pulvar Hex. This album is an explanation, an exploration and a reassurance. It presents no clichés.
We’re naturally heading into experimental territory here, and seeing as Immundus is treading off the beaten track with his concepts, some unusual and unconventional sounds work their way into the fabric of the album. The first three tracks refer to the death of the physical body with the beautiful and reflective “Once Beneath the Crypt” placing us very much in its cold, empty namesake before “Subversive” heralds the final dissolution of the physical form with a halo of flies buzzing round the last remnants of flesh on our figure. “Paradoxal Movement” and “The Crossing of a Life Form” are two of the most beautifully celestial tracks on the album as our soul passes from one region of space to the next before we tread more active and energetic pathways in “Down the Deep End”, whose trippy beat carries an air of activity, production and creation till we reach our melodic destination in “A New Beginning”.
Musically there are many themes to the album from the soft, airy whispers of dark stone corridors to the empty space-like netherworld within “Paradoxal Movement”. Most of the time this chopping and changing of environments is done successfully with not too much of a radical shift between environments, but the transitions aren’t always positive. By far the most bizarre track on the album is the noisy “With a Vulture on my Shoulder” which is six minutes of the bird whistling, trilling and beatings its large wings. Yes, though this is indeed what it would sound like with a vulture standing by us, physically or metaphysically, it doesn’t make for a particularly comfortable listen.
But maybe that’s the point. If we are going to address the presence of death and our journey through and beyond it, it’s not always going to be an optimistic experience. Bounded To Eternal Time and Space concentrates very much on its message – possibly too much at the expense of its natural sound – but it’s still a successful undertaking. It’s necessary that dark ambient albums have a strong focus to them, and Immundus has certainly shot for something far more concrete than most artists seem to these days. If you are looking for an immovable, static ‘location’ album, this won’t tick many of your boxes, but as a thinking dark ambient work with movement, passage, atmosphere and cause, it’s something well worth investigating. Just like its subject matter, Bounded To Eternal Time and Space has a life and reality all of its own. And it’s a reality we could each discover before long.
02. Once Beneath The Crypt
04. Paradoxal Movement
05. The Crossing Of A Life Form
06. Bounded To Eternal Time And Space
07. With A Vulture On My Shoulder
08. Am I Dead
09. Down The Deep End
10. A New Begining