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Trepaneringsritualen “Deathward, To The Womb”

SIDE-LINE, May 8th 2017 :
Behind this obscure Swedish project is hiding Thomas Martin Ekelund (aka Th. Tot). Trepaneringsritualen became a renowned formation in the darkest corners of ritual- and death-industrial music. “Deathward To The Womb” was originally released in 2012; Release The Bats Records released the album as a 12” vinyl while Black Horizons and Merzbild released it as a cassette. Cold Spring now released the opus on CD format with an extra bonus cut. It is also available as a limited vinyl edition. Content: If you don’t already know this masterpiece of Trepaneringsritualen you’ll discover these ghost-like voices lost in haunted, obscure atmospheres, accomplished with numerous noises and ritual passages. The concept is mystic and ritual-like, which has been perfectly adapted into sound. The heavy sonic sweeps are like the sound of an imaginary, monstrous whip opening the gate to an unknown world. Dark electronic loops are often moving into pure ritual passages, sometimes joined by shouting vocals. Next to the 6 original tracks of the album we now get an extra track, which is an endless and varied piece featuring the unavoidable ritual parts next to vibrating throat chants and industrial drones.
Positive points : “Deathward To The Womb” remains one of the absolute masterpieces in the history of this band. It’s the perfect offspring between dark-ambient, ritual and death-industrial music. There’s a poignant progression in the songwriting, which reaches several climaxes like on the title-track and “She Is Flame Of Life”. The bonus cut “I Remember When I Was God” is also worthy of examination. This is one more deeply ritual cut that will hold you in its grip for more than 10 minutes.
Negative points : Trepaneringsritualen is a band you’d better avoid if you’re not familiar with extreme sonic creation. You either going to like it or not, there’s no in between!
Conclusion: Trepaneringsritualen is a band that gained a serious recognition in a rather short lapse of time. No doubt about it, the very own sound approach and explicit ritual character of the work both remain the main characteristics of this enigmatic artist.
Best songs: “Deathward To The Womb”, “I Remember When I Was God”, “She Is Flame Of Life”.
Rate: 8/10.
Inferno Sound Diaries

ONDAROCK (It.), February 11th 2017 :
Thomas Martin Ekelund con il suo progetto Trepaneringsritualen ha riportato il ritual industrial agli antichi fasti, fondendo suggestioni provenienti dai primi Current 93 e Coil al suono anni Novanta di Mz412 e Brighter Death Now. Vero erede del sound e, soprattutto, dello spirito iconoclasta che animava la leggendaria label svedese Cold Meat Industry, Ekelund (già attivo in passato come Dead Letters Spell Out Dead Words, Nullvoid, Teeth e Th. Tot.) ha alzato il livello di una ricerca che oggi (ri)unisce con successo ambient post-black metal e grezze sonorità post-industriali di marca underground. La Cold Spring ristampa oggi in cd e in vinile a 180gm e in edizione limitata a 500 copie il primo vero disco a firma Trepaneringsritualen, “Deathward, To The Womb”, uscito in origine nel 2012 come 10” in 275 copie per Release The Bats Records. Per l’occasione troviamo anche una bonus track su cd (presente in download code per il vinile) di 12 minuti e 17 secondi, intitolata “I Remember When I Was God”, a firma “Teeraal Räum Pheynix”, uno dei tanti alias del Nostro. Il nome del progetto Trepaneringsritualen deriva dall’antica arte di trapanazione del cranio per scopi magici e religiosi e qui sicuramente siamo di fronte a un esordio da ascoltare con mente aperta. Anche qui, come del resto nella recente ristampa di Zos Kia/Coil realizzata dalla stessa Cold Spring, abbondano i riferimenti al culto di Thelema, sorta di pensiero magico/filosofico elaborato dall’occultista Aleister Crowley all’inizio del XX secolo. Il disco si apre citando un’evocazione a “Babalon” condotta da “Frater T.O.P.A.N” (nome dietro cui si nascondeva Jack Parsons), un confratello seguace di Thelema. Babalon è la “Grande Madre” che rappresenta l’impulso di fecondità. Attraverso la sua fiamma, essa è chiamata a bruciare e purificare tutta la creazione in vista dell’“Aeon Of Horus”, era di autorealizzazione e di ricerca spirituale sotto la vera volontà (“True Will”). La nascita di Babalon però non sarà preludio a un’era di amore e pace ma, all’opposto, farà precipitare il mondo in una sorta di violento cataclisma, un’apocalisse purificatrice manifestata attraverso l’immagine della “Black Flame”: “She is flame of life, power of darkness/ She destroys with a glance/ She may take thy soul. She feeds upon the death of men” per citare proprio il testo “The Babalon Working” scritto da Parsons. Tutto il disco di Ekelund è una sorta di session rituale che ha anche nella dimensione “live” la sua ragion d’essere. “Deathward, To The Womb” ruota attorno ai due opposti principi: la madre feconda e il principio distruttivo che sembra oggi prevalente. Musicalmente, tale dualismo si sbilancia verso il lato più noise e caotico, con un’attitudine “low-fi” che scaraventa l’ascoltatore in un black ambient nero come la pece (“Osiris, Slain & Risen”). Siamo immersi in un magma infernale in cui galleggiano scarti post-industrial alla S.P.K. (“She Is Flame of Life”) e in cui emerge, a tratti, l’inquietante voce, distorta e cavernosa, di Trepaneringsritualen, memore di tutta la tradizione metal black-death svedese e della sua ben riconosibile iconografia. “Deathward, To The Womb” è un lavoro “ritual” post-industrial aperto a contaminazioni post-black metal. Un ottimo esordio per un progetto che, pur fruibile a diversi livelli, non è mai sceso a compromessi e che dal 2012 non manca di dare positive conferme nelle prove successive, sia in studio, sia dal vivo.

MERCHANTS OF AIR, January 11th 2017 :
Fans of death industrial, power electronics and ritual noise will by now know the name Trepaneringsritualen. With sonic live rituals allover Europe this act has surely made a name for himself. In fact, I don’t think I’ve seen a more prolific and prominent act in this genre since the glorydays of Cold Meat Industry. Now, Cold Spring reissued Trepaneringsritualen’s long out of print debut album and added the long ritual work entitled “I Remember When I Was God” (included as download for the vinyl edition). What you can expect from this act, is pretty much similar to the stuff that acts like Brighter Death Now, Nicole 12 and Genocide Organ have been throwing in our faces. Harsh, rhythmic noise, with pissed off screams, loaded with misanthropy, agony and hopelessness. There is nothing pretty or beautiful about this whole thing but play it loud and before you know it, you’ll be in a spiteful trance, barking out your demons and cleansing yourself from those dark, haunting emotions. Obviously, this stuff is not suited for everyone. If you want music to be musical, you should step away from stuff like this before it obliterates your sanity. Yet, if you’re one of those freaks who like to dwell in the grittiest regions of the sonic underground, this thing will give you the nightmares you crave and thrive upon. ‘Deathward, To The Womb’ is simply a stunning piece of work, a haunting masterpiece of pure dark sentiment. This comes highly recommended for all the ritual noise folk out there. You know you want this…


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Tunnels of Āh “Surgical Fires”

Right from its unsettling introduction Surgical Fires, the third album from Tunnels of Āh, follows a much harsher course than is found on their previous albums Lost Corridors and Thus Avici. Lost Corridors was a psychogeographical musing on tunnels and structures while Thus Avici meditated on the new dark age. Like the preceding albums, Surgical Fires is naturally informed by Stephen Āh Burroughs’ studies and practice of Buddhism and his abiding interest in the esoteric. Buddhist texts appear woven into the fabric of Surgical Fires but their hushed delivery amidst the noise textures makes them hard to decipher. One track features Anji Cheung, a London based sound artist. She’s a natural fit as Cheung, like Burroughs, in her own work sculpts unearthly drones and bleak atmospherics and shares an interest in the occult and Buddhism. Cheung provides vocals to one track, on an album that seems more instrumental than previous releases. The assemblage of percussive elements and electronic noise places Surgical Fires in the lineage of industrial music, a sound that has fired Stephen Āh Burroughs since the early eighties. It is by far the harshest of the three Tunnels of Āh albums which might not be surprising since it seems to be concerned with psychic attacks. I’d hazard a guess that the work of Dion Fortune and particularly her anecdotal study Psychic Self-Defence plays a role on Surgical Fires. Surgical Fires best fits Tunnels of Āh intent: This is psychick war. Surgical Fires open to the processed industrial clank and clatter of ‘Demonic Forms’. From the series of pummels, scrapes and scratchings underneath an electronic roar, rises, let loose like a rampaging surge of insectoid chattering. The relentless onslaught is like an audio take on the occasional episodes I experience when my head is subject to careering thoughts rendering me unable to focus on anything specific. Mines may be the result of constant tiredness but Surgical Fires is dealing with psychic attacks. Keening metal and oblique wordless chants only add to the confusion created by this ugly spirit, and then there is the added whirr of a drill. This is the sound of trepanation, a bore hole driven into the skull to relieve the pressure. And at the hands of Tunnels of Āh it also acts as a portal into the mind. The following track ‘Purging Process’ harnesses electronic noise textures with a hazy mishmash of discordant frequencies and buzzing electronics as it battles with the hungry ghosts. Set against this are elements of ritual clang and what may be discordant guitar howls. Is it? I can’t be sure, as I don’t think guitars have featured on any of the prior Tunnels of Āh albums but it’s not out of the question as remember Stephen Āh Burroughs was once part of the noise rock outfit Head of David. Burroughs voice appears on ‘One Hundred Gates + Eight’, another title illustrating the influence of Buddhist text on his work. Reduced to a spoken whisper over layers of ominous eviscerating drone. His words cloaked in buzzing drone seem to be a homage to and about the protective nature of the Buddhists and the sacred words of the Dharmas. Buddhism may imply a sense of stillness but Tunnels of Āh fill their tracks with unsettling drones, glistening tones and morphing sound shudders. ‘Mind As Corpse Bearer’ is riddled with some seriously effective rippling tones, as a constant cranking see-saw sound runs throughout the static etched drone. No space or light manages to pierce ‘Release Of The Burning Mouths’; an impressively oppressive onslaught featuring layers of deep airy droning and textured shifting layers. The title takes its name from a Chinese Buddhist ritual where the denizens of hell and hungry ghosts are invited to feast and hear the Dharma preach before being sent away. Voices take the form of bestial growls along with the breathy exhalations of Burroughs; a hushed sinister uttering cast against an evocative maelstrom of sound layers and fierce noise effects. The following ‘Black Air (Exhale)’ is a more textural working filled with coruscating electronics, hollow ratcheting and jarring frequencies. Just by chance, a few weeks earlier I became aware of the work of Anji Cheung who provides vocals on ‘My Love To The Lordly Cobras’ on a split single with the revitalised Terminal Cheesecake. Here her soft whispered tones are subject to split-channel processing, as she recites a Buddhist protection ritual over low stuttering electronic drones which swell from underneath amidst sound shimmers and flashes, before reprising the text accompanied by chants. Surgical Fires closes on ‘Emission Through A Hole In The Head’ which wades through crunching textures (the beginning kinda reminds me of a slowed down take of Throbbing Gristle’s ‘What A Day’) before it morphs into more nebulous territory. Burroughs intones words performed as a looped chant, as melodic chime wafts over the crunchy textured backdrop. The collusion of sounds is quite unsettling, coalescing into a noise drenched climax before its deep drone exit. I’m always taken by the sounds and direction Stephen Āh Burroughs follows. Tunnels of Āh may fit into a lineage of esoteric and occultic music but Stephen Āh Burroughs is on a path of his own making. And while the meaning and intent may be hard to excavate – I really wish he’d provide details of the key references – amidst the noise drone and textures it’s certainly worth going along for the ride. Surgical Fires is another great singular release from the restless, unsettling mind of Tunnels of Āh.

RABEN REPORT, November 7th 2016 :
2013 in Birmingham gegründet, so ist Tunnels Of Ah ein noch recht junges Projekt, ist aber dafür auch recht aktiv, was den Zeitplan von Veröffentlichungen betrifft. “Surgical Fires” lautet der Titel des neuen Werkes, welches mittels “Demonic Forms” eine verstörende Einleitung erfährt und ehe man sich versieht, ist man in einem Strudel aus unruhig brodelnden Frequenzen gelandet. Der Lärmpegel steigt im folgenden Stück noch etwas an, ehe man mit geheimnisvollem Flüstern bei “One Hundred Gates + Eight” aufwartet. Je nach Tagesform kann man von Tunnels Of Ah halten was man will, aber von reinem Krach sollte keinesfalls die Rede sein. Vielmehr schafft es der Protagonist überaus interessante Facetten aufzuwerfen, welche vorliegender Publikation diesbezüglich einen Pluspunkt verschaffen und das Teil recht variabel klingen lässt. Dennoch wird keinesfalls leichte Kost serviert, denn “Surgical Fires” hat fraglos einen harschen Fundus, weshalb man damit wohl auch am ehesten Hörer von Industrial ansprechen dürfte. Spätestens mit “Black Air (Exhale)” trennt sich die Spreu vom Weizen und ein stabiles Korsett ist in dieser Angelegenheit durchaus ratsam. Ebenso sollte man Zeit mitbringen, denn am Stück lässt sich das Album nur schwer erfassen, da vielzählige Elemente und Schichten erst abgegraben werden wollen, ehe das Ding so richtig funzt. “Surgical Fires” ist keine Kost für den alltäglichen Konsum, sondern eben ehr etwas für starke Momente. Wer gerne mal eine harsche Portion Industrial schnappert, der sollte hier mal reinhorchen, der Rest dürfte sich nur schwer an diese kräftige Hausmannskost gewöhnen.
Artwork 6/10 – Atmosphere 8/10 – Total: 7/10

SIDE-LINE, February 26th 2017 :
In a previous life Stephen Reuben Burroughs got involved in Head Of David. Today he has found a new sonic canvas called Tunnels Of Ǡh to exorcise his music ideas. “Surgical Fires” is the third album by this music veteran. Content: “Surgical Fires” takes off with noise-driven loops and that’s an essential element running throughout the entire production. Burroughs creates a kind of horror-soundscape accentuated by tormenting sound manipulations. From boiling noises and buzzing sound waves plus ghost-like whispers he creates a hostile atmosphere appealing your imagination to create dark and tortured visions. That’s precisely what the title of this album is referring to: ‘a kind of psychic surgery’ probably to calm down the terror like visions this music is spontaneously appealing for.
Positive points : Tunnels Of Ǡh is a band, which is hard to define as one particular music style. It rather sounds as a synopsis of multiple, dark influences finally resulting in a personal dark music creation. This is a sound, which can’t leave you unaffected; it’s too freaky to leave you unmoved and that’s precisely the main strength of this work. I like the progression from rather noise-like opening cuts towards more ambient-driven cuts with solid sound treatments awakening your most secret and perverted fantasies. So in the end I would say that the ambient side of “Surgical Fires” is definitely hard-hitting.
Negative points : “Surgical Fires” is the kind of work, which will be not accessible for a wider audience. That’s what all kind of underground music has to endure isn’t it? You don’t hear me to complain although the very first cuts left aren’t the most convincing ones.
Conclusion: “Surgical Fires” is the work of an alien or simply an artist finding an outlet for his most perverted music ideas. But no doubt about it, this is an artist who already has found disciples who will be ravished discovering this new creation of their Master.
Best songs: “One Hundred Gates + Eight”, “Black Air (Exhale)”, “Mind As Corpse Bearer”.
Rate: 7/10.

CHAIN D.L.K., February 5th 2017 :
According to the liner notes, the title of this release, “Surgical Fires”, alludes to psychic surgery and, so, it probably marks a reference to the first days of industrial where a theme as mind control was central but this album doesn’t present any explicit message but instead tries to build an atmosphere of conflict and inconvenience from the beginning to the end. The mechanical sound of “Demonic Forms” opens this release and introduces the listener towards a relatively canonical industrial sound which evolves in a noise crescendo in the second part of the track. The development of “Purging Process” is almost meditative even if using noisy sources while “One Hundred Gates + Eight” is even more subtle in his construction with the juxtaposition of voices above a deep drone and sparse samples. The contrast between ambient and noise is further developed in “Mind As Corpse Bearer” and “Release Of The Burning Mouths” where the second element is never able to overwhelm the first while in the foreground of the central part of the track. “Black Air (Exhale)” is a return to the abrasive framework of the first track while “My Love To The Lordly Cobras” which features the vocal contribution of Soror Anji Cheung skims the territories of certain ritual music but without the hypnotic effect. “Emission Through A Hole In The Head” closes this release starting as noise track and evolving into a sort of song when the voice seems to start chanting accompanying the development of the noise towards a resonance. This new release by Stephen Ah Burroughs marks a development towards a personal and crafted sound even in a codified tradition so it’s something that could well fit the taste of fans of old school industrial but also fans of more modern approaches. It’s worth a listen.
3,5/5 – Andrea Piran


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Phil Von “Blind Ballet”

ANT-ZEN (Ger.) Label’s note, 2015 :
A blind man feels his way, guided only by the sensations of sounds around him, walking through composite landscapes, sometimes concrete or musical, sometimes unreal, fictitious or synthetic, mutating constantly but layering like brushstrokes of sonic paint along his hesitant steps. From dusk to dawn, he wanders on a path sprinkled with touches of natural elements; water, air, earth, fire, glass, with the perceptions of humans; murmurs, breaths, crackles, snatches of voices, with manifestations of sudden granular waves or aural perfumes from unknown distant lands. Here he perceives presences, there he guesses mysteries. Maybe a bigger story is somehow slowly unfolding before his stimulated ears. With this solo album, sprawling somewhere in between melodious electronica, lush ambient, musique concrète, and abstract experimental sounds, phil von took a break off von magnet‘s shores. now he confides within us these intimate imaginary ballets, inviting us to contemplate his invisible trances, some of which he composed for dance, street theatre and performance. Twelve individual parts created for different occasions have been carefully concerted for this exceptional artist’s first solo release since years. A captivating acoustic puzzle suitable to open up the listener’s imaginary eyes. You are asked for a dance – please accept the invitation.

[OBSKüRE] MAGAZINE (Fr.), 2 Mai 2015 :
Phil Von vient de sortir chez Ant Zen un album en solo. Celui-ci a donné lieu dans notre numéro 24 à une interview avec Mäx qui souligne l’importance des field recordings dans cette série de travaux. Habité par les travaux de Von Magnet et des projets annexes – comme par exemple le disque réalisé en compagnie des Musiciens Gnawas de Fès – je ne résiste pas à l’envie de poser à mon tour des mots sur ce disque.C’est la première fois que Phil Von propose un travail aussi épuré. L’album est une sélection de titres et de bande-sons composées pour des performances, associés à d’autres pistes plus personnelles. On y sent comme un tournant. Les derniers Von Magnet exploraient des compositions amples, structurées, déjà à l’écart des samples et dynamiques électroniques qui dominaient jusqu’alors. Le rythme se faisait moins prégnant, mais il ponctuait encore Ni Prédateur ni Proie (2008) et Archipielagos (2012). La sensation qui domine ce Blind Ballet est liée à l’utilisation du silence. Jamais total, il acquiert une densité rare. Il produit du suggestif, comme sur l’inaugural « Entre Chien et Loup ? ». Le choix de cette ouverture est intéressant car elle oblige à écouter. On ne bascule pas dans le cinématographique ou la tentation de visualiser ce qu’ont pu être les spectacles sur ces thèmes (en vrac : Bouche Cousue, Collectif Be, DO-Theatre, Entre Terre & Ciel, Juan Pablo Lastras, Sakurako & Re-United Now-Here, Underclouds). Phil Von. a sélectionné des pièces qui fonctionnent indépendamment de la scène. Ainsi « Lost Ballet » et ses bruits de jardin d’enfants sert habilement de transition à « Blind Crystals » qui s’articule sur les souffles humains. Il y a chez Phil Von. une volonté de se rapprocher de ce qui animait les créateurs de l’Arte Povera : partir d’éléments bruts et les agencer pour faire émerger une poésie. Cela demande un échange avec l’auditeur. Au-delà de l’ambiance, du décor, quelque chose d’autre arrive : il y a une beauté dans l’humain, une harmonie entre l’espace et la manière dont nous l’habitons ; par notre présence, il prend véritablement sa plein dimension. La musique est discrète, c’est elle l’accompagnement tandis que les voix se font caresses en arrière-plan (« Bleeding Caress ») et le recueillement prime. Il ne faut pas attendre de compositions strictement musicales, on reste dans le contemplatif, à la façon dont Lisa Gerrard a su dernièrement élaborer ses partitions. « Taire » flirte avec le drone, un son d’abord tenu en sourdine, puis la superposition d’un deuxième, quelques cloches en harmonie avant une montée de nappes démultipliées. Là encore les voix ne sont qu’un habillage léger, un voile quasi transparent. De par le nom utilisé, de par la photo de cet œil qui se force à rester fermé, l’album joue symboliquement de la transition. Plusieurs titres miment cet état, cet entre-deux, reléguant les glissades flamenco à n’être plus des échos assourdis, des clins d’œil. « Feu » ne conserve que le cœur du flamenco, avant de basculer dans une rage festive où les craquements du feu évoquent des coulées d’eau. Et, même lorsque la voix féminine se fait narrative (« Chip Chop »), la musique privilégie l’observation à la description, soupirant dub et ambiant. L’album, reposant, aveugle comme un regard lancé au soleil peut éblouir, fige des instants. C’est une pause discographique, un travail de textures et de dimensionnement musical (Norscq est encore de la partie). Phil Von. adresse aux auditeurs de Von Magnet une carte sonore audacieuse. Après le double DVD rétrospectif de 2014 (Performances 1985-2013), il en est là, il compose aussi ces pièces. Pourra-t-il les intégrer à Von Magnet, bien plus démonstratif ? En a-t-il l’envie ? Quelles que soient les réponses, la maîtrise montrée ici habitera la suite des ses voyages musicaux.
80% – Sylvaïn Nicolino

SIDE-LINE (Be.) Webzine, June 23 2015 :
Phil Von (the famous front man of Von Magnet) also likes from time to time to release a more intimate solo-work, which creates some distance from the familiar and successful Von Magnet. Behind “Blind Ballet” hides an interesting conceptual idea about a blind man and the interaction of sounds/noises around him. We’re entering a strange and often mysterious sound universe, which remains pretty quiet, but a little less paranoiac. If you try to switch off your sight while hearing the minimal and somewhat abstract arrangements of this work you rapidly feel some anguishing vibes. From the mysterious guitar parts on “Bleeding Caress” to the deep vibrating bass blasts, joined by spooky whispering vocals on “Chip Chop” to the somewhat ritual and sacred-like passages of “Taire,” to the industrial and haunting sonic corridors of “2 Lovers For 1 String,” to the field recordings running through “Feu,” and “Without Wings” you experience the bizarre creation of this “Blind Ballet.” It clearly appears to be a minimal, and total ambient experience, which will absolutely leave an impression on you. It’s not the most accessible work of this genius artist although it is an interesting and diversified experimental exposure and the imaginary union between human senses and noises. Speaking for myself I prefer the tracks driven by a low cadence and reinforced by intriguing atmospheres, but I’ve to admit that the experimental parts of the work titillated the imagination. In the end I would say that “Blind Ballet” is a rather eclectic work, which cannot be totally considered in only one particular genre. Conclusion: “Blind Ballet” is an interesting concept, on which the mental picture provoked by simply the strength of sounds will lead you to experience a totally imaginary story.
7/10 – Inferno Sound Diaries

FEARDROP (Fr.) Magazine, 24 Mai 2015 :
Il y a quelque chose d’éminemment paradoxal et aussi de magnifiquement tragique dans un titre tel que Blind Ballet. Ce titre, celui du deuxième album véritablement solo de Phil Von, ce titre exprime toute la tristesse du flamenco, style dont on sait l’empreinte qu’il a laissée sur la musique de son groupe Von Magnet, dans lequel il chante. Mais s’isoler de Von Magnet c’est à vrai dire s’isoler aussi de ce qui en modèle les formes régulières. Et c’est même, dans le cas présent, s’exprimer sans le chant. Alors, repartons du premier indice, de l’instant paradoxal capté, de la frontière mal éclairée qui scinde les choses. Chaque titre, avant même que la musique en soit entendue, semble s’insérer en ce même lieu d’aberration, de mise en danger, un espace où le dernier pas a été franchi dans l’espace tranquille avant que l’inconnu s’offre à la découverte nocturne : chien et loup ?, bleeding caress, wire dancer, without wings… Les musiques nimbées de Phil Von vont alors organiser ces hypothétiques zones de passage entre les contraires. D’un homme aveugle, l’on dit souvent qu’il développe ses autres sens, et particulièrement l’ouïe. Combien j’ai dit, déjà et passionnément, que les musiques informelles où la mélodie ne s’ébauche qu’en fredonnement, où le rythme n’est ressenti que dans le propre corps de l’auditeur, que ces musiques bourdonnantes fournissent le plus riche terreau à la mise en germe du paysage imaginé. Ce disque de Phil Von aurait pu servir de manifeste. Du souffle à la plainte, du tressaillement de corde mélancolique au travail du bois soumis aux rudes tensions du tangage, de la conversation de nuages ocre au murmure de la lumière, l’imaginaire danseur aveugle se figure un environnement tel qu’un Caspar David Friedrich de l’Atlas aurait pu en dévoiler. Les présences, sous formes de voix furtives, sont-elles des réminiscences ou bien des guides bienveillants ? À quel chiffre caché la courbe des cordes éclairées de tintements obéit-elle ? Et les îlots synthétiques promettent-ils la vue recouvrée ou en confirment-ils la caducité ? Savoir que certaines de ces pièces ont été composées pour le théâtre ou la danse ne les y soumet pas, elles sont leur propre théâtre, leur propre et autonome cinéma crépusculaire. Une musique qui se déploie au gré des doigts la palpant afin de mieux la voir, et plaçant au-dessus de l’horizon où musique concrète et electronica mêlent leur eaux, la vague, le bourdon, et plus haut encore, toujours, l’âme.
Denis Boyer


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Minitel “Abîmes”

POISONOISE (Fr.) June 4th 2016 :
As summer approaches and that you will soon all be looking for some shade to hide from the heat, I suggest you to put your head in the freezer (or underwater) with an album that’s curdling bloods « Abîmes ». As if it was the soundtrack of a film noir, one is drawn into icy landscapes. Unlike such other projects, there is no frame like martial rhythmics or melodic development from noisy elements. Minitel takes us into an oppressive world for the time of the album with its monotonous but still very elaborated environments . We are visiting a nightmare that is not ours, and it is rather interesting. Minitel, a name that evokes spontaneously rather a world of kitsch synth than the dark ambient that it distils for sure (…).

CHAIN D.L.K. (U.S.A.) August 1st 2016 :
More interesting music from France courtesy of the Facthedral’s Hall label. There seems to be very little information on the artist, even from the label. ‘Abimes’ is the debut Dark Ambient Industrial Drone project composed and recorded in 2006 by Iconoclast, under the project name of Minitel, and not released until this year. Why, I have no idea. As for Iconoclast, the only other info I have is that Raphael Henry played (and maybe still plays) guitar in a Black Metal band called Sael under the name Iconoclast. Well, that’s at least something, and does explain some of the music on this album. ‘Abimes’ begins with “Vitriol,” a 4 minute noise piece that sounds like white hot ore being processed in a steel mill. Good for noise enthusiasts, but I was hoping the whole album wasn’t composed of pieces like this. “Novocaine Messiah” put my fears to rest with an uneasy calm. Primarily hollowish synth drone with a vague, eerie whistling melody over the top, this somnombulant ambience might lull you to sleep but also inspire nightmares out of the twilight zone. I swear I heard some snoring in there… “Inner Filth” presents a much heavier ambience, a spiraling dark ambient drone piece that lasts for over 22 minutes. “Lurker at the Threshold” juxtaposes a very low tone melodic loop over even lower engine idling with other sonics that sound like snakes slithering over sleeping monsters of the deep. This is the creepiest track on ‘Abimes,’ and owes much to Lustmord’s oeuvre. Finally, we have title track “Abimes” and here is where the black metal comes in. It begins with thick slabs of distorted guitar amidst cooing dove-like sounds, and a thick underpinning of deep, dark drone. As the piece progresses, squeaky metallic sounds can be heard, the guitar fades away, then a slow doom drum loop, and all the while that low, thick drone holds down the bottom. This goes on for quite a while until it seems to fade out until… BAM! at a little over 14 minutes the black metal guitar returns with a vengeance swallowing everything and returns into the abyss from which it came, with only traces of doom drum left. While ‘Abimes’ seems minimal in form, there is a lot of complexity in the drones. I know people who would absolutely love this because of the black metal aspects. For me though, I preferred the middle tracks. Still, very well done. Limited to 300 copies.
3,5/5. Steve Mecca.

MITHRA! TEMPLEZINE (Fr.) September 26th 2016 :
En cinq pistes – la première peut être considérée comme une introduction, non pas par sa durée, car elle fait environ quatre minutes, mais plutôt par sa nature même : on a l’impression d’être happé dans un vortex, entraîné contre notre volonté vers l’insondable – Minitel évoque, en partie, certaines productions du feu label Cold Meat Industry. Le choix du mot “minitel” pour représenter la musique d’Iconoclast qui officie notamment dans le groupe de black metal Annthennath est assez déconcertant, car on s’attendrait plutôt à un projet de retrowave, par exemple ou de minimal synth ; l’artiste explique ce choix dans une interview du webzine PoisoNoise : « J’ai donné un nom débile, fait une pochette en 2mn montre en main, temps de la photo compris, l’ai mis sur bandcamp, et là Marc de Facthedral’s Hall m’a contacté aussi pour le sortir ahaha. ».Cette orientation un peu à l’”arrache “ jure avec le reste : le visuel plutôt réussi malgré tout, l’ambiance profonde et sombre, et surtout la qualité des quatre compositions…Minitel semble, donc, pratiquer une forme de détachement post-moderne… Pour caractériser le son de Minitel on peut dire que le dark ambient qu’il pratique est plutôt “synthétique” avec une dimension parfois industrielle, et drone. D’autre part, il convoque des influences black metal pour un résultat finalement très personnel. D’autant plus, qu’elles sont utilisées comme un leitmotiv grâce à des irruptions de guitares trafiquées – quasiment méconnaissables – et noyées dans des brides de voix et autres bruits mécaniques sur la dernière piste (Abîmes ), à mon sens la meilleure composition avec un bon mariage entre dark ambient à tendance rituelle et émanations black metal. On déambule dans un monde crépusculaire comme bercé par d’énigmatiques nappes vaporeuses sur Novocaine Messiah, peu de variations, ici, mais un effet hypnotique assez efficace. Il se manifeste clairement une ambition cinématographique comme si Abîmes avait été pensé sur le principe d’une bande originale de film fantastique. Inner filth est une longue piste cauchemardesque et monotone de 22 minutes dont les drones lancinants ne laissent aucune place à la lumière – une pièce opaque, fermée sur elle-même, dont le titre invite à une désagréable introspection. Enfin, Lurker at the Threshold, qui doit probablement puiser son inspiration dans la nouvelle du même nom écrite en collaboration entre H. P. Lovecraft and August Derleth, nous fait assister à un obscur avènement à travers une intéressante construction qui monte en intensité…Vous l’avez compris, chaque piste recèle sa spécificité tout en déroulant un “scénario” cohérent. Ce premier effort ne manque pas de “charme” : Abîmes capture l’attention grâce à une atmosphère pesante et horrifique. Il mérite l’attention des amateurs de musique sombres, en premier lieu, évidemment celle des amateurs de dark ambient, mais aussi ceux qui apprécient les groupes de black metal les plus orientés vers l’ambient.

VITAL WEEKLY #1041 (N.L.) July/August 2016 :
The music by Minitel, a project by Iconoclast (I’m sure that is a pseudonym), was already recorded in 2006, but for unclear reasons was shelved until now. That, plus the fact there are only 300 copies, is all we know. The cover also doesn’t reveal much more than that. Something that happens of course more often and which is no problem. (…) this one is actually something I enjoyed from beginning to end, even when the opening piece ‘Vitriol’ is drenched with reverb. The other four (and much longer) pieces are all in the realm of moody drone music. Mucho atmospherics floating around. It’s hard to say what it is used here, but my best guess would be synthesizers or guitars, lots of effects, and maybe something in terms of field recordings, but I have no idea what that should be really here. This is the kind of dark ambient music that one usually find on such labels as Malignant Records; it is not the most refined kind of ambient, but projects like Minitel explore the all the low end frequencies to their maximum use, and cutting out all those sounds that shed even the smallest bit of light in this music. This is not a release with music you never heard before, but I thought it was very well made, with great care for deep, hidden sonic details.
Frans de Waard

BAD ALCHEMY #91 (De.) September 2016 :
MINITEL, das ist Raphaël Henry, und Abîmes (FHCD16-2016), das sind Abgründe. Es zeigt ihn als einen eklektischen Munkler, der mit Knochen Runen schreibt, ansuz – laguz – othala. Seine Ikonographie umfasst schwarze Ruinenromantik, einen Guru und einen steinzeitlichen Sterndeuter. Mit dem Akronym ‚Vitriol‘, der alchemistischen Formel Visita interiora terrae, rectificando invenies occultum lapidem („Betrachte, was im Inneren der Erde liegt: indem du es läuterst, wirst du einen zuvor verborgenen Stein erhalten“), vereinnahmt er auch noch Rosenkreuzer und Freimaurer für seinen Synkretismus. Dazu ruft er, wenn auch ohne Worte, den schmerzstillenden ‚Novocaine Messiah‘ an. Und mit ‚Lurker At The Threshold‘ winkt der Cthulhu Mythos mit glibbriger Tentakel. Entstanden ist das schon 2006 als ein dröhnendes, zischendes Etwas, als mächtige Erscheinung des Herrn der Fliegen, der aus allen Poren Gift spritzt. Dem stehen die wie von Mönchskehlen umsummten messianischen Wellen entgegen, so wie der Schein dem Schatten. Breitesten Raum nimmt ‘Inner Filth’ ein als ein motorisches Surren und Dröhnen, dem man mit einem Glas Burgunder, in dem Erdbeeren schwimmen, zuprosten möchte. Der Anklang an Lovecraft & Derleth bringt einen gedämpft klopfenden Beat, der wie durch Meeresbrandung ans Ohr dringt, zuletzt mit näher rückendem Crescendo. ‘Abîmes’ bringt zuletzt düster krachende Gitarren über einem grummelnden Bodensatz, in oftmaliger Wiederholung des gleichen Motivs. Abgelöst von der ständigen Wiederkehr eines holzigen Klackens und von spitz schleifenden Geräuschen über der fortwährend dröhnenden Tiefe. Zuletzt kehren die Gitarren krachend zurück, stürmisch umfaucht von einem dunklen Brausen, bis nur noch monotone Schläge verhallen. Ein durchaus suggestiver Auftritt auf dem weiten Feld des Dark Ambient.

DARK ENTRIES (Be.) October 14th 2016 :
Je hebt nu eenmaal van die muzikale vondsten die ergens in een bui van creativiteit ontstaan en opgesloten blijven tot het einde der dagen. Zo ook met deze Abîmes van Minitel. Opgenomen 10 jaar geleden maar uiteindelijk dan toch opgevist door het Facthedral’s Hall-label. Het eenmansproject van een als alter ego opererend Iconoclast. Laat je niet misleiden, deze Iconoclast is deelgenoot van metalbands als Annthennath, Evil Spells en Silver Machine. Minitel is allesbehalve metal of aanverwanten. Ambient doorspekt met effecten en vooral home recordings. Waarbij hij al wat experimenteerde met Annthennath, door ambient met metalklanken te combineren. Abîmes bevat slechts 5 tracks, maar die samen toch goed zijn voor 60 minuten onrustwekkende drones. Vitriol is industriele dark ambient/drone, industrieel door zijn karakteristiek van een fabriek waar met volle ernst het productieproces wordt bemoeilijkt door hogedrukpersingen en het aantal afgeleverde stuks niet van tel is, zeg maar van minitel. Het klankbeeld van het rustieke doch beangstigend net niet voor het slapen gaan-verhaaltje heet Novocaine Messiah. In kalmte gedrenkt, maar desalniettemin voorzien als open poort voor opkomende nachtmerries. Het is het innerlijke dat telt, maar dat innerlijke kan ook vies en vuil zijn. Inner Filth kent zijn ambient door meer dan 22 minuten lang een rondreis te maken in de ingewanden der mensheid. De blootlegging van het individu, de kentering van individuele karaktereigenschappen. De soundtrack van lichaam en geest. Al even diepgaand is er de donkere monotonie die Lurker At The Treshold heet. Donker en diep, zoals de meeste kelders. Vochtig en licht beschimmeld. Wachtend op het mysterieuze en vooral onheilspellende dat zich verschuilt in elke hoek. De drempel die overwonnen dient te worden, zonder angst, zonder bibber. En dan toch de gitaar, omdat Iconoclast zijn hoofdjob niet mag vergeten. Titeltrack Abîmes duurt 17 en een halve minuut. Niet dat de gitaar overheerst in nietszeggende akkoordenwisselingen, maar als integratie in het geheel der delen. Het samenspel van de distortion en de drone als voorspel voor een langdurig en vooral fysiek contact en zo meer naar het einde toe zijn vlucht zoekt in de donkerheid van het bestaan. Abîmes van Minitel is zeker niet voor iedereen weggelegd, vandaar ook slechts uitgebracht op 300 exemplaren. Minitel zorgt voor het spiegelbeeld van de donkere kant van ieder individu op zich. Diepgravend, complex maar zeker ook interessant.

DARKROOM (It.) September 25th 2017 :
Album di debutto composto nel 2006 e pubblicato solo un anno fa per il misterioso act Minitel, gestito dal francese Raphael Henry, già membro della band black metal Iconoclast. I brani si basano su una dark ambient che risente moltissimo degli arrangiamenti e della lezione black, basati su un minimalismo compositivo ben più netto di quello già proprio dei progetti di retaggio post-industriale. “Abîmes” prende vita da essenziali basi sintetiche su cui insistono percussioni elettrificate e una sinfonicità da lande solitarie (“Vitriol”). La stagione più ‘nevosa’ e gelida del black-ambient scandinavo rivive con una forte carica naturalistica e isolazionista su cui svettano le basi tetre (“Inner Filth”), come anche alcune remote linee tonali dai chiari riferimenti climatici (“Lurker At Threshold”). Non mancano alcuni classici riff di chitarra che, unitamente a palpitazioni percussive e clangori ad effetto, riescono a costruire passaggi sicuramente più vicini all’amato black che ad una tipica e lugubre musica d’atmosfera. Il disco va considerato ed inserito nel suo periodo di nascita, e se adesso questo tipo di soluzioni sono parecchio frequenti, dieci anni fa potevano risultare più di nicchia se inserite all’interno di un genere che andava diversificandosi. Da un lato “Abîmes” appare ormai troppo rozzo per essere accostato alla cosiddetta linea ‘dungeon synth’, ma d’altro canto rimane un prodotto apprezzabile per i nostalgici di un’oscurità rozza e di marca fortemente metal. Minimale anche nella grafica e nella confezione in jewel-case con booklet di quattro pagine, come tradizione comanda.
6/10 – Michele Viali

SIDE-LINE (Be.), September 27th 2017 :
Dark-ambient, drone, cinematographic, soundscape, industrial. Minitel is a French solo-project set up by Raphaël Henry. This artist has some experience in the wider fields of metal music and has now moved into dark-ambient fields. Notice by the way that “Abîmes” was already released one year ago. (…) This album features 5 tracks and 2 sides. The opening- and final song are carried by dark-ambient atmospheres, noise waves and drones. The 3 tracks left reveal a different aspect, which is more into cinematographic passages. The common element between all cuts remains the dark sound creation, giving you the feeling of getting lost in an obscure, abyssal voyage. (…) I have a real preference for the heavier cuts exposed right at the beginning and the final track. This is a heavier and tormenting style accentuated by drones. The other cuts are more into soundscape and sonic nightmares creates with progressive noise waves and industrial guitar playing. (…) I think this band more excels in the accomplishment of heavier industrial & doom mixed with drones than the more familiar and sometimes monotonous soundscapes. (…) “Abîmes” is not reinventing any music style, but is a rather promising debut from an artist who seems to feel comfortable experimenting with different styles. This is an artist to keep an eye on. (…).
Rate: (7/10).

NAWAKULTURE (Fr.), November 20th 2017 :
Dix ans après l’enregistrement de cette session, Facthedral’s Hall lui donne enfin la chance de voir le jour sur un vrai disque pro et tout, limité à seulement 300 copies. On a affaire ici à une heure de noise / drone / dark ambient divisée en cinq compositions dont la longueur excède parfois le quart d’heure, voire les vingt minutes. M’sieur Iconoclast, que l’on connaît pour sa participation à de nombreux groupes du grand bordelais (SAEL, SILVER MACHINE, ANNTHENNATH…), nous gratifie ici d’un télescopage souvent abrasif de sons parfois agressifs et sinistres (Vitriol), parfois étranges et profonds au point d’en ressentir le casque naturel de l’eau quand on plonge la tête au fond d’icelle pour tenter de deviner ce qui se passe autour de la salle de bain, pourquoi pas sinon une bande originale pirate de l’approche du sous-marin coulé dans Abyss (Novocaine messiah). Inner filth rappelle à votre non-serviteur l’histoire de ce village noyé pour les besoins de la construction d’un barrage et dont la cloche oubliée de l’église se faisait parfois entendre de sous l’eau les nuits où les eaux (death-y-dément !) se montraient plus mouvantes que d’habitude. Le semi-lovecraftien Lurker at the threshold évoquerait plus le flux et le reflux chargé des soldats qu’on jeta sur les plages d’Europe en 1944 sous l’œil indifférent, voire amusé, des Anciens, fervents spectateurs de destructions en tous genres. Le conclusif Abîmes se rapproche plus des terres métalliques avec sa guitare pachydoomique accompagnée de rouages lugubres que Fury Road n’aurait pas reniés pour le ramdam furieux de son héraut mortifère. Un album qui fait voyager dans les décombres noyés d’une civilisation post-apocalyptique de rêve, le futur en disque pour les plus lucides.
4/5 – Guillaume Ged Dumazer

TARQUIN ZINE (Uk.), #7, January 2018 :
That this album took 10 years to crawl out of its cavernous lair is a travesty. However, had it seen the light of day through squinting eyes any earlier, it may not have registered on the Tarquin radar, and certainly would not have featured in TQ zine. ‘Vitriol’ gets this album underway with a barrage of sound and noise created by a number of competing synths and is just what I expected when admiring the dark grey and black cover of this disc, it’s full on and never wavers across the opening 4 minutes. Again, with the title of ‘Novocaine Messiah’, I had certain expectations which were only partly realized. This is a beautiful, lilting, electronic carpet ride accompanied by flutters, swirly things, and swishes. lt’s an enlightening trip into the inner workings of the iconoclast mind. With a title of ‘Inner Filth’ and timed at over 22 minutes I expected relentless thunderous bass, drums, and 100 mph growling vocals, but no, it’s not like that at all. Judging music by the cover is a bad habit, and a one many of us are guilty of. In the case of this track, it leaves the pre-judge looking pretty stupid under his curly wig. Here we have ambient drone of the highest order, and if you have 9 euros burning a hole in your faded denims, they are worth spending at for this track alone. Beautiful caressing drones with soft metallic underlay, it’s a warm pillow for the most weary of minds, and as tomorrow never knows, turn off your mind, relax and float downstream (L & McC). A more accurate and reflective title (albeit Prog pompous) would be ‘Inner Sanctum’, or ‘Inner Dream’. ‘Filth’ is such a dirty word for such a beautiful drone, but hey blah blah blah and more. The ambient theme continues with ‘Lurker at the Threshold’, and the 17 minutes metallic closer of ‘Abimes’ introduces guitar power chords and thunder percussion in the style of more widely known bands of the dark drone camp, and after 10 years in the darkness, let this album enlighten you.
Andy Wood