Ritual Ambient has a way of transporting the listener to another world that is both awe inspiring and potentially very dangerous. Vortex have stayed true to their name, creating a portal to somewhere else, a terrifying world of disconnection, reflected in the metaphor of the Kali Yuga. The most frightening part is, that world is here. It is no great surprise that this German ambient group is incorporating aspects of Hinduism. Perhaps due to colonialism by the British, or maybe a genetic code due to a relation between the Celtic and Teutonic tribes that descended from the Aryans, many Germans have a strong interest in areas of this ancient faith. Whatever the reason, European Paganism (for lack of a better word) and Hinduism (also for a lack of a better word) are thoroughly connected, and I have always found this relationship to be quite beautiful.
The album begins with a sound-bite, pronouncing the words “here, agony can be achieved”. It seems the intention was to create an album that will terrify the listener, not for pleasure but to awaken the audience to the travesty that is the modern age. If that was the intention, it unfortunately fails to do so in regards to the feeling of fear. This is a bit more auspicious, the music is simply too interesting, thoughtful, and cultural to create such an emotion as terror. This feels more like a relic, an archaic piece hung up in some dusty museum
Kali Yuga is ironically a cyclical law, very fitting considering the label this is on. This concept is not very far fetched, considering that life and the seasons work in this same exact manner. Spring is birth, you grow strong in the summer, decay brings in the autumn, and in winter is death. Since the seasons and all life functions just like this, it would make sense for all things on a macroscopic level to do the same. In Norse mythology we have Ragnarok, and it is often forgotten that life regrows after this as well.
Prayer For The Iron Age attains a soft voice over bells, entering a place that is in all actuality quite light in the sense of weight, treading on the precipice of New Agey while retaining an authentic feel. This turns into tribal/martial drumming which shows that all light will dim, regardless of how strong. It truly sounds like a ritual by some tribe, chants around a giant fire to Gods long forgotten.
When sounds of disconnection arise, it is recognizable how much of this very act I need to emulate. It is no new tale that we are too connected, while not being connected at all. This separation through the illusion of social media is a great ill in many ways. The messages in each song are quite clear, which in a way makes this far from esoteric. No secrets here, it is dark because our times are dark, and Vortex has something to say about the modern world. Some may like their music a bit more auspicious, but this is for those who want a reminder to unplug and work on things like survival.
One thing I find refreshing is the amount of drums on this album, it is certainly a relief to hear so many authentic instruments throughout each song. A few songs are mainly a martial/tribal drum sound, creating the image of some ancient tribal dance in some faraway land. Prayer For The Iron Age reminds me of a tribal dance, such as the Maori’s who have been receiving quite a bit of publicity lately. It is both frightening and mesmerizing, as the best things are. Expect many things rattling, chants, drums, and various disturbing noises, none of this will come as a great surprise. What may also come across though is an authenticity in approach and a willingness to try something different. It can at times be quite bombastic, a ritual towards the inevitable war which shall obliterate many from the planet, or a moment of calm accepting that with all darkness is light.
This is partially an anthropological and historical study via the use of music. Much of this album is quite accessible to the average person, not quite as “dark” as one may expect from an album about Kali. It is quite diverse in approach, featuring various instruments and environments which relate to the lands of India. The playing itself on songs such as Gods Of The Desert is quite competent, featuring what I believe is a Sitar or perhaps just a normal guitar played in a very interesting way. Nevertheless, it has the feel of an album centered around Hindu mythology. Self-described as “modern aural shamanism”, Vortex tries to bring you the myth to you, instead of you to the myth, making it experiential as opposed to merely a thought.
This is certainly an album that would appeal to many people, far beyond the boundaries of Dark Ambient or otherwise. A person could easily have this playing during their modern Asanas. Unlike your typical album of this genre, this features the rattles and banging of many different types of natural sounds. This is music for the history buff. The final track Kalki The Destroyer brings back the Dark to what is otherwise mainly a Martial/Tribal album. The vocals are quite splendid, reminding me of Elend. What is quite appealing is how the album tells a story; ironically the main person behind Vortex, Marcus Stiglegger is also a film producer, and the music clearly reflects it. This is often something recognizable in Ambient music for what I see are obvious reasons, and it is extremely blatant here. Just close your eyes and be interspersed with images of sacred dances to Kali and the end of the world, just remember the dance goes on forever and Shiva’s feet will pound out a new rhythm, even after this planet is nothing but one giant computer chip.
01) Kali Yuga Anthem
03) Dawn Of The Iron Age
04) Gods Of The Desert
05) Prayer For The Iron Age
06) Techno Crisis
07) Kali Yuga Ritual
09) Martial Destiny
10) Sadness Remains (Lament)
11) Kalki The Destroyer