[Reviewed by: Peter Marks]
For as long as I can remember, there has been a continual war between the waking and dreaming worlds. When one arises, there is sometimes a feeling that wherever you were did not want to let go. Whatever it was you were seeing or doing, you obviously were not finished but your time was up. There’s a new day to greet out there, regardless of the inky, black fingers still partially embedded in your mind. The constraints of reality have once more pulled you back from the edge. No matter how inviting what lay beyond it appeared, this round is over and it’s time to get on with the business (no matter how trite or petty) which time has laid out before you.
Supposing, just supposing, that you were able to remain in the netherworld of the surreal until you had done what you set out to do. Imagine, just for a moment, how much life would be changed by this simple ability. Would the sky still appear when you opened your eyes? Would the birds still sing? Would everything you believed in and patterned your existence around remain valid, or would it all pull back to reveal the hidden and secret places you aren’t meant to fully comprehend. It is within this ambiguity that Shrine’s newest album operates, a rubicon for the subconscious mind has been drawn out and demarcated. Who would dare cross it.
By playing this record, you choose to drift into that state where long cherished laws of nature no longer apply. For the duration of ‘Nihil’, there are dark features which will begin to emerge from their shadowy backgrounds to show you things. Some of them terrible, some of them revelatory, but all of them truths nevertheless. Do not try to resist what is going on here, let these seven pieces take you where they wish to go and be grateful there are only seven of them. I’m not entirely sure what the result would be if any more were loosed upon even the strongest neural outlook.
How far can you stray from the path before you are lost forever in the omnipotent, ever expanding darkness that exists between systems, stars, planets and people. You might read this and come away with the impression that ‘Nihil’ is focused exclusively on the celestial aspect of human experience. You would be wrong. This one is illuminating inner as well as outer space with blindingly meticulous precision. No one sound is greater than it has to be and unlike much of what is passed around in the style of dark ambient, each track on here is a fully-formed auditory portrait painstakingly assembled bit by bit… second by second… progress achieved by inescapable attrition
I will say this, Shrine, along with Vortex, are the most innovative artists on Cyclic Law these days. Vortex by his continual inclusion of diverse and sometimes hostile elements and Shrine with his unerring attention to the layers which make up his compositions. Have no doubt, Shrine are going to play a major role in influencing the hands who guide the sometimes deadened, unconscious course of this style into uncharted waters. We are very fortunate to have this kind of renaissance going on, especially with the end of Cold Meat Industry. Someone must bear the torch into a new age to reveal these sights which have always been there but so rarely can be seen.
It’s like hearing the cries and laments of those dragged under by the whirlpool’s centrifugal tendrils, do not approach this with anything other than awe and trepidation. You aren’t meant to be here or to hear what you’re taking in, this is a realm off-limits to most so do mind your steps. The cliffs here are steep and their stones treacherous, ever onwards wends the path.