CD (ltd. 300)
"Mÿsteriüm Mägnüm" is the debut album of the Ästrälflüidz project coming from Vladimir, Russia, and it's entirely dedicated to Alchemy as Royal Art, opening a new page in the history of an endless search for the highest and principal truth of human life. As Éliphas Lévi once wrote: "The Great Work is, before all things, the creation of man by himself, that is to say, the full and entire conquest of his faculties and his future; it is especially the perfect emancipation of his will".
The musical language of this opus may be characterized as a combination of epic symbolism and thoughtful sonic occultism. Ästrälflüidz' retort dissolves and condenses elements of neoclassic and dark ambient, experimental electronics and field recordings, minimalism and ritual inclusions aiming to disclose entirely the main idea of this work. Solve et Coagula!
The disc is packed in a matte 4-panel digipak with a 12-page booklet. The edition is limited to 300 copies.
I always look forward to receiving music packages from Russia. The quality and innovation of new music of this country never ceases to amaze me. Kicking off the latest batch of releases from Zhelezobeton is the debut release by Astralfluidz titled 'Mysterium Magnum,' and it is definitely a winner. According to their Facebook page, this project began in 2015 and consists of one classically trained musician (who presumably handles the synths, keyboards, percussion programming, etc.) and one self-taught musician (acoustic, electric guitars, bass) from Vladimir, Russia. According to the promo sheet, the music on 'Mysterium Magnum' is "entirely dedicated to Alchemy as Royal Art," and "the music language of this opus may be characterized as a combination of epic symbolism and thoughtful sonic occultism." The track titles and artwork in the accompanying booklet definitely support this - "Prima Materia" (I. Chaos); "Enigma Regis" (I. The Red King; II. The White Queen); "Tria Prima" (I. Sulphur; II. Salt; III. Mercury); Quinta Essentia" (I. Terra; II. Aqua; III. Aer; IV. Ignis; V. Aether).
Of course by now you're wondering what the music sounds like. Well, many things really. From the opening track it's cinematic dark ambient full of ominous spacey drones and cosmic effects. It had me hooked right from the get-go. It only gets better as you move deeper into this album. There is dark ambient juxtaposed by angelic voices. From this a somber, melodic musical theme emerges, orchestral with percussion, rich and vibrant, yet mysterious. And voices, lots of wordless voices. More dark ambient, sonic rumblings, tinkling of glass, wind chimes, water, cosmic drones, legato strings, and much more. A snippet of Russian liturgical choir, then the Goth-Industrial kicks in with a powerful and rhythmic intensity in the melodic progression, building and expanding to its inevitable industrial-neoclassical conclusion. The windswept plains of a wasteland appears, with ominous rumblings and the chittering of strange creatures. Something submerged yet melodic begins to rise in its inexorable climb to the surface. The tinkling of glass chimes, then the bellowing of what could be a great steamship horn, ominous thundering in the background and an airy lead synth before the percussion kick in and another melodic theme emerges. Lots of voices and drama, reminding me somewhat of Mike Oldfield's more orchestral work (forget "Tubular Bells", think more like "Ommadawn"), and yes, kind of proggy symphonic. But I love it! The last track is just about impossible to describe; it just has so many elements. It is the culmination of everything that has gone before it, and then some.
It is rare that I come away from a listening experience saying, "WOW! That was incredible!!" but I just did. Comparisons pale in the wake of this - Tangerine Dream? Bah! Early Delerium? Not even close. Vangelis? Nah. This is its own duck. And to think - this is Astralfluidz's debut album. Where will they go from here? But for now you have 'Mysterium Magnum' and I highly recommend you buy it. It is ever so worthy.
Genre/Influences: Dark-ambient, cinematographic.
Background/Info: Ästrälflüidz is a Russian project featuring two artists from different music universes, but who find a common interest in the creation of this ambient-driven work dedicated to ‘alchemy as Royal Art’.
Content: The global sound influences are clearly and constantly getting us back to an ambient sound creation. It’s a rather dark approach revealing industrial noises, but still a part of drama and reverie. That’s what makes this album somewhat cinematographic-like. A few passages even move into a real horror-scape accentuated by some piano playing.
+ + + : “Mÿsteriüm Mägnüm” is the kind of composition appealing for imagery. This visual strength is marvelously reinforced by different elements, but I especially like the Gregorian-like chants emerging from “Chaos” and the overwhelming –somewhat dramatic like, arrangements running through “The Red King”. The music sounds like a story where the power of your imagination will create surreal and maybe horror-like images. “Enigma Regis” is an absolute masterpiece in its genre. I also want to say a word about the artistic and symbolic digipak of this release.
- - - : The main strength from this album might be also a point of discussion. It sometimes feels a bit like you really need a visual work, which would be complementary with the sound created by Ästrälflüidz. It feels a bit like a ‘total concept’ where the different artistic disciplines are nothing without the others. Just listening to the album might become a bit monotonous after a while and especially for the long-duration tracks.
Conclusion: Ästrälflüidz invites the listener to visit the secret and magic laboratory of the alchemists. With some imagination you might discover some of the alchemist's’ secrets and who knows the formula to create gold.
Best songs: “Enigma Regis”, “The Red King”, “Tria Prima”.