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Raison D'être - Daemonum/Daemoniacum [Cyclic Law - 2021]

Here we have a recent(ish) double album release from Swedish master of arcane and ancient ambience Raison D'être.  Daemonum- is a six lengthy tracked and seventy-three-minute album, which is very much in the classic vein of the project, with haunted and at points fairly abstract and sparse soundscaping. Whereas Daemoniacum- is a more compact thirty-nine minute/ six shorter tracked album- which offers up a more shadowy hazed example of the classic dark ambient form. The release was presented as either a three vinyl release, double CD( I’m reviewing), or a digital download.

The two discs come presented in a six-panel matt digipak- this features on its front cover in deep shadows head and shoulders figure, which looks like it’s decaying/ deformed, and inside we get a more creepy demonic-looking face, which is once again in shadow. There are also pictures of ancient brickwork and wooden walls, once again in deep shadow, and minimal texts. So, a very moody, but not giving much away bit of packaging.

Raison d'être aka Swedish sound maker Peter Andersson is celebrating thirty years of creating work under the project’s banner in 2021. And it’s fair to say of all the dark ambient projects around Raison d'être, has the most instantly recognisable sound with its grimly drifting blend of disembodied monk chants/ choirs, gloomy ebbing-yet-grandly mournful ambient tones, tolling bells/ gongs, and moodily grating industrial metal tones. 
Andersson has spent the last three decades defining, then charting the minor changes/ developments within his most distinctive and unequal sound. And most certainly Daemonum highlights the projects subtly growth/ development- so if you’ve heard any Raison d'être before, there are no real surprises or jarring sonic shifts present on the first disc/ album. But what we do get are six highly skilful and deeply haunting examples of his arcane and ancient sound craft, which summons up distinctive air of timeless mourning, set in worn stone melancholia, and centuries-old sadness.

All but one of the six tracks on this first disc hit well over the ten-minute mark, with the final title track coming in at just over the sixteen minutes mark. Each of the tracks are carefully built in a spaced and largely sparse manner- Andersson places each element with great thought and skill, so as to create a lightly drifting-yet-wonderfully nuanced sound picture, which grows in both detail and mood depth the longer you spend with the tracks- making this very much a prime example of an album that needs both time and patience to reveal its full depths and wonders.

The album opens with just over twelve and a half minutes of “The Implacable Portal”. With Andersson genteelly building up a keen sonic picture of a felt through time forlornness- at first, we get just a single haunting gong chime and its reverb, then slowly he adds in a lonesome monk chant, shadowy drone hover, and a distant string saw. At near the midway point, the track seems to start to expand, as we find layers of ghostly hover string tone, spaced-out doomy tolls, and this far away creaking/ water flow element. But just when you think it’s going to sudden shift up a gear, Andersson pulls back once more for moodily placed gong chime and a warbling emotional male chant, which later takes in this knocking/ flattering sound texture- which sounds like a trapped in a dusty bell tower bird, with latter on mournful layers of haunting metal grate added into the sound picture as it fades.

By track three we come to “The Roots Of Weakness”, and here I very much get the feeling of a dark and odd ritual taking place in a long-abandoned church. It opens with an atmospheric spread of lonesome tolling church bell tone, blacked ritual gong hints, hazed string hover, and moody knocks ‘n’ bangs. As the track progresses we build to a sort of mournful simmer with churning ethnic percussion hints, elegant if arcanely creepy monk chants, and faint-but-rapidly sawing string layers. Next up we have the albums shortest track “Inside The Enantiodromia”- this rolls in at just shy of the nine-minute mark, and is a decidedly grim ‘n’ gloomily psychedelic track, which suggests ingesting earthy psychedelics in a half-light of a monastery- as we find a hazed blend of amassed monk chants, wood creaks, and stone floor knocks and drags- with a growing undercurrent of foreboding droned reverb, and later haunting tolling and junk texturing.

The album plays out with the epic sixteen and a quarter minute title track. Here we find an initial blend of shadow bass drones, lightly malevolent creaks and drags, and faint voice hisses/ mutters. As we move along Andersson skilful shifts between brooding and building layer hovers, doom piano key hits that are joined by haunted gothic dulcimer plucks, and mixers of dark string churn and junk metal darting’s. A really chilling and mysterious end to the album, which rather suggests finally the doors of hell have creaked open- to reveal a vast landscape of sinners and surreally formed demons interacting through a flame flicker and brimstone hazed fog. 

 

Moving onto the second album in the set Daemoniacum, and this features another six tracks- but these are shorter than the first albums tracks, each hits around six to seven-minute mark, with the album having a lot shorter runtime of thirty-nine minutes. As a whole, this album is much more formally ambient and largely sonically hazed than Daemonum, with the sound elements brought together to create either sombre-yet-dense sonic fogs, or brooding masses. 

The albums second track “Extrication From The Eternal Certitude” brings together mid-range foreboding drone hover, haunted harmonic glide, and brooding metal rattle. Later on, we seemingly drop into a lapping sea of sonic remorse, as we find stretched/ barely heard mournful chants, wavering and lightly grating drones, and this haunted whistling harmony, that sounds like a ghostly mermaid calling from the dense sea fog. On “External Transmogrification” we have the return of the projects monks chants- but they have been pulled and stretched out to a simmering haze of warming glumness, these are initially joined by a select of very subtle knocking ‘n’ ebbing junk tones. And as we move on we get more pronounced glowing waves of drone matter coming into the fore. 

The album is finished off with “Blinded By The Oath’. This opens with a swell of hazed glamouring metals and thick pressing drones. As we move on the tracks takes on swelling and then drift quality with amassed haunted clanking’s and malevolent drone weight, shifting to a reduced ambient simmer and sparse metallic reverberations. If Daemonum final track felt like the opening of the ornate gates of hades, this track feels like being thrown into a barren pagan storm- which batters, then grim soothes.

 


Both albums are separately impressive and involving creations, but together they create an awe-inspiring double-headed trip, with each having its own qualities and feel. So, in conclusion, this is an impressive statement of all that Raison d'être, and a great celebration of the projects distinctive three decades sonic path. To purchase this direct from Cyclic Law drop in here

Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5

Roger Batty
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