Mystified, Primal Mystification

The idea behind this 2009 release from Mystified is simple: foggy drones glide slowly past, shifting and rolling as they go, while light touches of percussion lend a faint tribal air. While I stand by that as an accurate description of how it’s done, I’ll also tell you that it sorely downplays what Mystified (aka Thomas Park) is able to do and convey on this disc with that formula as his starting point. Primal Mystification is one of those ambient CDs that innocuously burrows its way into your subconscious mind, persistently but patiently setting up its space in your head–and by the time you realize it’s there you’re really quite okay with it. Park’s drones are warm, grey things that move in otherworldly waves. He varies his approach, track to track, to keep each of the four long pieces here fresh. The opener, “Massive Turning,” takes its percussive sense from a gently played tabla, a sharp, solid and rhythmic snap over the wash. An echoing piano, played two simple notes at a time, wanders through. At first I found this an odd choice for a disc that’s so drone-based, but in Park’s hands it quickly becomes an integral element in the piece’s definition. “Departing Certainty” is abstract, shadowy, beatless and a bit foreboding. It’s the dream you can’t wake up from. I’m intrigued by Park’s choices of percussion in the last two tracks, “Not Knowing Where” and “Back to the Primal.” The first has a hand-drummed feel, a fire’s-edge rhythm with a strong tribal sense. I like the way he puts it up against a throbbing bass swell that, in its tone, is as unwavering as the drumming. (I’ll get back to this in a moment.) The percussive element in “Back to the Primal” is two-pronged: a flangey and metallic electronic beat squares off with more hand drumming. It is the sound of the computer-age tribe calling back to its ancestors, perhaps–and getting a distinct answer in kind.

Park drives home his musical intent in the form of repetitive motifs that change only slightly across time. Between the often-mellowing touch of the drones and the insistent metronomic pulse of the drumming, in any form, the listener doesn’t have much choice but to follow his or her brain as it slides and sluices down into Parks’ umbral constructs to touch the primal memory in all of us.

I enjoy this disc more with every listen, and the deeper I go, the more I like it. Primal Mystification is a Hypnagogue Highly Recommended CD.

Available from Hypnos.

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