Solitude and reverence in the midst of nature’s pure nakedness can be a blissful and spiritually breathtaking experience. Amongst ancient wooded monoliths, seemingly timeless, one truly feels the breadth and depth of existence: humanity being so small and not necessarily exceptional. We are a piece of the grander whole, and no more. As Ralph Waldo Emerson so valiantly put it in his masterful essay “Nature”:
“Standing on the bare ground, –my head bathed by the blithe air and uplifted into infinite space, – all mean egotism vanishes. I become a transparent eye-ball; I am nothing; I see all; the currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part or particle of God.”
It is as if the natural surrounding alone is a conduit into another state of human being, altered from our everyday existence. Secrets older than our time exist in these settings, and magical change is possible there. The pagan heart expands to a size large enough to dwarf the pre-conceived societal downloads that wash over our sense of environmental connectivity. This is not to simply cite mere nature worship; far from it. Through psychedelic doom/folk vanguard Hexvessel’s recent offering “No Holier Temple” nature is viewed as a vehicle towards esoteric truth. It is Mat McNerny’s most recent set of symbols to draw from in order to express the universalities present in Hexvessel’s body of work. It is another chapter in the ongoing meditations on what is profound and what is considered to be holy.
Early in Hexvessel’s career brought about one of the most unique expressions in the psychedelic folk genre: their first offering, “Dawnbearer”. A purely spiritual and passionately personal album, it managed to touch the listener on a viscerally intimate level. The ghostly sounds that emanated from McNerney’s expression of personal transformation have the power to doubly transform any soul on the edge of renewal. In rare glimpses is magick been truly expressed in sound, and this is certainly one of them. Occultic ritual, ceremonial magick, self-sacrifice, and myth was the palette used to tell the initiatory chapter – it is that specific symbol set used to describe the universal truths at work in Hexvessel’s body of music. It struck an unavoidable chord in the aether and vibrated throughout the known universe. Pure intention resonated throughout. The very same intention and sonic aura proliferated through a year of transformation and personal development. Hexvessel (FI) evolved into a collective of like-minded souls, all tapping into a shared experience to create the next step in the band’s journey. Real magick is a common set of beliefs manifest to reality, all starting with a single point of will and intention. “No Holier Temple” finds this expression at the heart of its message, meanwhile exchanging the ritual daggers and smoke for the forest and awe-inspiring psychedelia of the natural world. A current of unavoidable truth runs deep through the music, regardless of the shift in surface level concepts or style.
It is clear that something bigger is at work. The inclusion of several different spirits forming a proper band is more than apparent through this recent expression. There literally exists another layer of music to the resulting product of this meeting of minds – a cerebral and mystical psychedelic thickness. Where twisted dark folk dominated the opening of Hexvessel, the next phase is wholly doomier and psyche rock oriented. Not so much of a replacement as another voice in the mix, the heavier vibes found in the psychedelic elements bring strong associations to a chemically induced time when ideals were real and a connection to something beyond human was commonplace. The darkness of personal, spiritual mystery has been stripped away in favour of a unified group statement. Certainly more than the sum of its parts, numerous moments found on “No Holier Temple” resemble the freedom that one can achieve in the midst of a jam session. Musicians need nothing more than to open themselves to the potentials and become a conduit for a higher form of being. That source has found a voice in each of the Hexvessel players. There is a strong presence of electric guitars and drumming beyond simple percussion that give a sense of a fully functioning band at work. It is unavoidable in altering the personal solo feeling of previous work, but instrumental in elevating it to the next level of existence.
With ancient musings and universal truths “No Holier Temple” evolves towards a state of being that transcends the mundane here and now. There is no Romanticism involved, just an intrinsic connection to the planet. The very Earth we possess and keep is perhaps this no holier place. Understanding our place within the cycle has become tantamount with worship, but it is much more of a spiritual journey than a pragmatic one. One community of musicians can foster a larger, even global, one. The ambition may be high, but the medium is strong enough to endure.
1. Heaven and Earth Magic
2. Woods to Conjure
3. Wilderness Is!
4. A Letter in Birch Bark
5. Elegy to Goyahkla
6. His Portal Tomb
7. Are You Coniferous?
8. Sacred Marriage
9. Dues to the Dolamen
10. Unseen Sun
11. Your Head Is Reeling (Ultimate Spinach cover)