[Reviewed by Peter Marks]
This is a curious title to investigate. Ma’at was not just merely a deity, she was also something much more sublime: the concept of truth in ancient Egypt and her 42 negative confessions contained all manner of moral guidance for the people who aligned themselves with her; ten of these confessions were, shall we say, appropriated by others for another set of commandments. In fact, the more you research Ma’at the less cryptic this release becomes and an entire galaxy of possibilities present themselves. The very idea that something as abstract as a concept or viewpoint could possess it’s own guidebook is a tantalizing one and Winged Ma’at certainly do her justice with their debut album.
They too, divine order out of chaos as surely as their namesake did.
There is one undeniable element to their work and it is that they have the ability to transport your mind into the desert; the winds rise and fall across endless open expanses while occasional glittering guitars conjure up each ray of the sun which beats down. Time ceases to have any meaning and while petty intrigues carry their day elsewhere, they crumble to dust here; the track titles pull you back from your reveries to remind you why you’ve come. This isn’t the sort of aimless experimentalism which will suit a dull mind, one must stay on point and employ all of their senses to fully perceive the intricate rituals at play here. Now that you’ve elected to listen you may as well stay and bear witness to the entire occult ordeal they’ve cleverly placed innocuously onto tape.
We move through the varying stages of her tasks, from the eliciting of men’s deeds after their death to the weighing of them to determine their place in the afterlife. As always, the emphasis is on keeping things focused and running smoothly. It is here where Winged Ma’at hit their marks beautifully; they are peddlers of the hypnotic, this outfit, and it becomes quite easy to drift upon their ingeniously constructed pieces the deeper you venture within. You hear vague incantations to Ma’at and can almost make out her form in the smoky electronics but for all that your eyes strain she will elude you, her very existence little more than a wisp of vapor. These soundsmiths employ a vast range of techniques to pull her out into the light and are even augmented on one track by some very illustrious guests.
She remains shrouded in history and concealed by myth. Winged Ma’at elect not to overstay their welcome in her presence, curtailing their songs before they become ponderous exercises in tedium. These 42 negative confessions have a brief run-time and the whole affair doesn’t even crack the hour mark but you’ll swear you’ve traveled millennia; wandering from one set of abandoned ruins to the next, perpetually searching for what may reveal itself at the end of life.