by Anna Leja
I’m always a bit skeptical when listening to ritual or esoteric music, especially when made by self-acclaimed “Dracognian Sorcerers.” Today’s overt trend of esoteric leanings and modern Occultism has left me a bit jaded to say the least, despite my own self-righteous leanings. With that being said, I opened the album’s CD cover to find that TVPLA‘s third release on Malignant Records has a thoughtfully written statement of intent. Suddenly, I found myself touched by this collective’s understanding and the explanation behind what they are at least trying to achieve within themselves, the multiverse, and their audience. Also, I’m not going to lie, I was initially drawn in by the design and layout having been created by fellow Gothenburg-based artist Thomas Martin Ekelund of Trepaneringsritualen (whom I’m personally a big fan of and, well, that “street cred” value for whatever it may be worth in this case).
I went ahead and gave this collective the benefit of a doubt as a fan of comparable projects such as Halo Manash and Arktau Eos, and started listening with unpursed lips whilst trying my best not to roll an eye. The album’s opening track, “Dragon Mound,” leads in a procession of lengthy, experimental, and ambient yet ominous undulations, buried banshee sirens, and subliminal messages coded in buried and pained vocals. I began to feel like I was actually at the foot of the bed of a mythical dragon who’d been asleep for hundreds of years, beckoned awake by a strong projected belief in its legendary prestige and powers.
Considering the experimental nature and heavy use of what I’m assuming/hoping is hardware synthesis, the remainder of the album, while quite meditative and ritualistic in nature, isn’t necessarily a sleeper or a background album. On the contrary, various tracks demand great attention and have pieces or interludes that weave in and out with serious intent, demanding to be noticed. These little flareups of “musical’ or score-like parts in tracks such as “Mountain Sermon” are reminiscent of—and could even be likened to—those of eighties horror-movie synth soundtracks written by the likes of the recently relevant-again John Carpenter.
The tracks are staggered in a way that feels intentional, varying from repetitive or ritualistic to coming close to a kind of ceremonial graduation. The listener either feels voluntarily trapped in a trance-like limbo of purgatory, waiting for clearance in the thick of ether, or is awaiting graduation to another plane of existence (or, quite possibly, even another stumble and fall). Hoping for and summoning the possibility of perpetual rebirth seems to be in order on this grand album, Mountain of the Opposer, and is recommended for fans of dark ritual ambient or really anybody coming from an appreciative stance of well-executed experimental music burst forth from the belly of a mythical beast.