[Reviewed by: Iaha Crax]
There’s always a different challenge in finding music inspired by the philosophical or psychic dissection of the human spirit. Obviously it can also be plain boring, if you instantly realize the rough dilettantism so much present in the underground with regard to themes such as alchemy and its corroborated hermeneutics.
It should be all the more difficult when such a seeker is eager to let us have a glimpse of their discoveries by means of their musical artistry. On this note plays the intention of Merissa d’Erlette who has gathered behind the name of Artefactum a musical and visual project dedicated to esoteric symbolism. Whether her portrayal is purely symbolical or it is a sublimate result of her very experiments within this territory, that should be revealed to the most careful of the listener.
However, her use of alchemical symbols, such as the first two titles, “Viridarium Chemicum” and “Sperm of the Philosopher”, is much stronger in terms of effect than the music itself, a recitative ambient line of vocal murmurs and natural sounds of elements. Seemingly, the Polish artist has recorded her opus as part of a personal ritualistic process, using sounds that have been taken during such sessions and later combined with field recordings. The piece “Misterium Magnum” shifts from a tribal, agitated drumming to a suggestive, mysterious ambiance. There is a smooth, pulsating cadence suggesting the caressing of the flames and the miraculous transformation of the metal inside the athanor. The hermetic alchemical tradition appeared in West during the Crusades when Europeans got in contact with Hellenistic texts in Arabic translations. Further Christian elements were added to this tradition, mostly by the Rosicrucian Movement. At its basis, scholars tend to connect the fundaments of alchemy with the Egyptian tradition, but also find affinities with the Iranian-Persian religion.
“Rosarium Hermeticum” is written in a bleak, gloomy tone that will capture the attention of those who still look for a raw ambient, even close to some obscure intros and outros from black metal albums of two decades ago. This is the feeling on “Rosenkrieg” who brings up memories from old Mortiis, Aghast or Moevoth…but carries on the trademark of Merissa d’Erlette: a witching, simple melody with the rhythm of a spell.
“Quinta Essentia” is the fifth and highest element in alchemy, and was seemingly first used in Hebrew sources (which are similarly legitimate if you read authors outside of Evola’s circle). It is not air, nor fire, water or earth, but a more subtle and spiritual (purely intellectual) substance which can be better described by using sound, as Artefactum tries to do, with aural and catalytic landscapes. Besides Hellenic authors mostly quoted by researches into alchemy, there are the more recent among which Athanasius Kircher has a central position. This “Ars Magna Lucis” (entitling the sixth track) is one of his books, that has probably inspired the musician into writing another obscure, ritually super-structured piece of dark ambient. Is it a rule that even the musical description of alchemic symbolism has to be confined within the exclusivism and sectarianism of this type of philosophy? It is surely a necessity, since clarity can be obtained only by suffering the process described in the next track as “Occulted Alchemical Physics”. On the last piece, “Southern Skies”, the composer from Horologium (a respected Polish project) recites a poem conducted by clair-obscured linear tones, punctuated here and there by drops of elementals and magic chords.
The disc appears by credit of UrMuzik, and and is a re-issue of six tracks from 2006, to which are added two new compositions. It is limited to 500 copies of indeed superbly crafted digiCDs.