01. Aut Sperma In Terram Effundit
02. The Magic Root
03. Main de Gloire
05. Una Planta Que Sonaba
06. Rotes Gold Und Junge Liebe
07. Diese Eine
You wait years for an album on plants to head your way and then two turn up at once. Along with Botanist’s “The Suicide Tree/A Rose from the Dead” this is the second record to grace my path in the last few weeks entirely dedicated to plant life, though Atzmann Zoubar takes on a far more mystical feel. “Aut Sperma In Terram Effundit” came to me out of nowhere, but already it ranks as one of the most impressive ritual albums I’ve come across in recent memory, and so it should when you consider the amount of time that’s gone into making it. The Atzmann Zoubar project was founded in 2005, the songs which were to find their way onto this debut release starting their lives a year later and reaching completion to the satisfaction of the artist in 2011. Seeing as the strains within this album took a full five years to reach maturity, clearly some perfectionism is at play here. The hard work and dedication certainly paid off, since this is one of the most genuine, dark and soulful works in the genre that you could entertain.
Not that you’ll find much information about this project’s originator anywhere. K Makiri, the creator behind AZ, gives his location as being “a solitary cave” somewhere in Germany, but he moves in some very important circles. The inlay gives little away either, featuring only three pictures of the mandrake root in its four pages, with the disc released as CD “001” under Binturong Music. This album features vocal appearances, both sung and spoken, from many contributors to the scene, most of whom are female and all of which are excellent at their craft. I was most surprised to see the inclusion of vocals by Salomeh from the ritual industrial project C.O.T.A., whose 1994 tape release “Terra-ist” caused ripples in the waters of the underground. Each vocalist has been chosen very carefully to give the exact, perfect understanding and dedication to this album’s cause, and along with the soft, underplayed industrial elements and dark ambience it’s a near perfect mix.
The title “Aut Sperma In Terram Effundit” is a reference to the spot where the mandrake root grows: in the place where a young male has spilled his last seed. The entire album is a dedication to the mandrake, its power, history, importance and relevance within sorcery. A lot of the music is taken up with incantations, all of which are carried beautifully on the train of the instrumentation. The main thread of the album’s musical feel revolves around a thick, ethereal dark ambience and even though there are industrial elements to the music, these are generally softly played, being little more than indicators of the space between one section and the next, or between one heartbeat to another between words. Indeed, the industrialist elements are there to give an impression of the transitions and timelessness within the music, not to affront or assault listeners with a heavy, martial battery.
The most impressive thing about this album is the balance it manages to strike between the chaos and the calm within. This is no work of ambience with long, actionless sections of dreary miasmic ether: the music doesn’t tie you down in a calm section without gradually ramping up the pulse and pace before long. There is much variety within the music but the band has been able to tether everything perfectly to the right point: one side ambient, one side industrial, one side experimental and one side vocal – and at no time do we end up feeling as if we’ve spent too long in any corner. The ‘experimental’ side of the music, for its worth, is more subtle that avant-garde, featuring a quiet sitar in “The Magic Root” and the droning atmospheric guitarwork of Folkearth’s Marcus van Langen in “Diese Eine”. The album also features the inclusion of violin and didgeridoo, but don’t let the mention of either flag the pressing of alarm bells since every instrument is utilised purely for atmosphere rather than melody, the violin in particular played as a soft but screeching skip between a few scratched notes. These paragraphs would also not be complete without paying respect to the excellent work of vocalist Evi whose bewitching, French incantations within “Main de Gloire” account for one of the strongest points of the release. Given the title of the work it’s no surprise that the music dips in and out of a heavily sensual feel and especially round its mid point, the album takes on an almost sexual animation and reverence.
Overall, this is a an extremely powerful piece of work indeed and a high quality example of ritual music. With all the affectation and impersonation this side of the underground is used to, it’s fantastic to see such a masterwork produced with real heart, feeling and clear in-depth knowledge of subject matter and execution. Parts of “Aut Sperma In Terram Effundit” hark back to the days of the early releases by Ain Soph and LAShTAL, whilst also thinning out their industrial sound with a fluid ambient feeling reminiscent of Raison d’être. Released on the Winter solstice this album fell right at the end of 2011, and in the current icy climate of Imbolc is just as relevant now and will be for years to come. The identities within Atzmann Zoubar may choose to remain somewhat concealed, but their sound should reap renown.