Agarttha - A Water Which Does Not Wet Hands [King Of The Monsters - 2013]Agarttha is the name of a mystical place in ancient Vedic mythology where the leaders of the Underworld live and control events on the surface of the Earth and now also the brainchild of Italian artist Francesca Marongiu, also of Architeuthis Rex. The title of the album is a tribute to "A Water Which Does Not Wet Hands", a book by Sendivogius, a Polish pioneer in alchemical studies which deals with Jungian archetypes, in particular with the apocalyptic dreams and premonitions of the daughter of one of Jung’s friend , an 8 year old child who dreamed about death symbols and drew them in a small book before dying of an fatal illness.
Opening out with the track, “Lambsprinck”, we have synth drones and flickering percussion that are slowly joined by grinding low guitars reminiscent of Sunn or Boris. Ethereal vocals appear conjuring an atmosphere of departed spirits before the song builds to a space rock climax with a psychedelic edge. The ethereal vocals reappear in all their glory when the longest track of the album, “Visions of Alina” begins with down tuned guitars and voices which again remind of Boris or a heavier Current 93 with Rose MacDowall or even Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon.
“Melusine” is next and here the dark ambient atmosphere feels like an even darker Twin Peaks soundtrack, the Julee Cruise vocals being even more mournful and plaintive than the original. The track finally breaks into a sudden storm about four minutes in with the heavier Sunn/Boris riffs being introduced to add some extra power.
“The Sphynx” follows up with the drum beats and keyboards creating a feeling like Coil in their darker moments. Things are very eighties here in a dark electro way.
The sonic trip continues with the “Storms as He Walks”, with a psychedelic start with chiming bells and Hammond organ which give a Hammer Horror vibe as distorted guitars enter the mix.
Finally “Chymische Hochzeit” sees the group stretching out their drone side; very Sunn or even OM this time with an almost spiritual aspect to the vocals contrasting with the guitars, giving the whole track a poised proud vibe.
I liked this album, and in the right mood & setting it certainly creates atmospheres and feelings at one with its alchemical intentions. You may need to read up on the background articles to really get it but it’s an interesting trip while it lasts.Dave Biddulph