Eschate Thule

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Band Name Mystified
Album Name Eschate Thule
Type Album
Released date 08 April 2014
Labels Cryo Chamber
Music StyleDark Ambient
Members owning this album2


1. Bering Strait 08:48
2. Frozen Vapor 08:11
3. Deep in the Tundra 13:02
4. Patriotic Exploratin 08:42
5. Northwest Passage 08:28
6. Whiteout 05:31
Total playing time 52:42

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Review @ Dotflac

04 June 2014

Fantastic, as much by its composition than the imaginary it creates.

Who could believe that the first encounter Mystified had with music was through a piano and a trombone? From his real name Thomas Jackson Park, the artist began to mix with the classical and jazz universes before evolving towards electronic music.

It is after his meeting with the ambient artist Rapoon (published on delightful labels like Manifold Records or Glacial Movements) that Thomas Park will create his project Mystified, essentially based on ambient, dark ambient and drone styles. Active for more than ten years under this alias, he's responsible for dozens of albums and collaborations for a bunch of labels, among which we find his own called Treetrunk Records. We will talk today about his latest creation, joining since the 8th of April 2014 the fine Cryo Chamber house.

Eschate Thule is a pretty fantastic album, as much by its rather orchestral composition than the imaginary it creates ; a chimera cleverly combining a dominating dark ambient, freezing and spectral, with intent touches of lighter atmospheres, giving way to less suffocating rooms.

The opening track, Bering Strait, sums up very well the concept [totally subjective that I have] of the album : an expedition on an icebreaker at the dawn of winter, straight towards the frozen waters of the North, who will turn out full of surprises. The strings-based orchestrations and the higher-pitched synthesizer layers looped in the first half of the track represent perfectly the endless stretches of icy-blue solidified waters, pierced by the bow of our ship and resonating in the hull at the sound of the distant percussions perceived in Bering Strait. The sound loops expand in diversity and harmonics, expressing themselves and fading randomly to give emphasis to our journey. In the second half, a lower layer of strings is added, appearing periodically and transforming the optimistic and bright atmosphere of the beginning of Eschate Thule in a more threatening sound.

Impression confirmed in the two following pieces, Frozen Vapor and Deep In The Tundra, sinking faster and faster in the arctic darkness. The violins get more dramatic and scattered, the cellos more present, the sounds globally more worrying and deeper. A thick fog comes in the party through a light background breath, forcing us to slow down the pace and reawakening old superstitions of a forgotten childhood. Frozen Vapor seems to illustrate the transition between the real world from the beginning of the album and a parallel dimension inhabited by wandering spirits.

Deep In The Tundra erases the melodies and imposes a monolithic drone ornamented with field recordings, definitely placing us in an alternative world, opaque and silent. Sailing on the local Styx and certainly heading towards the frozen Hades, we discern in the sounds distant moans from the local inhabitants, stretching into space and time without forgetting to turn our blood to ice ; whisperings of uncertain origins, radio static, malign shadows and brass winds simulating intimidating sirens are superimposed on each other and disorientate us in the darkest musical piece of the album.

The sailing continues in the fog during Patriotic Exploration, but the day breaks through on what looks like the antichamber of the infortunate who never left the ocean. Mystified used here disjointed recordings of an orchestra playing bars on a regular high-pitched backwash and jingling, releasing us from the very dense atmosphere of Deep In The Tundra while keeping the malaise of the situation. Indeed, the patchwork of redundant sounds formed by the orchestra on the metronomic jingling lined by the volume variations remind the afterglow of the last moments of a dinner on a liner ; the only thing these spirits can still do is to repeat the last seconds of their existences for the eternity, and they don't even realize it. The magma of strings, brass winds and percussions starting again the same seconds of music is surely as intimidating as the eventuality to stay prisoner of ourselves without any possibility to escape.

This drive to get out of Eschate Thule is described in Northwest Passage. The relative brightness of the cheerful sounds played by a whole orchestra, in the previous track, fades in favor of strings buzzing without a break on a rumbling bass line in the background, while incisive brass winds bring all their power at regular intervals. A sonic framework worthy of a horror movie, where we can represent the duty that the lost souls have to not let anyone get out of their dimension.

Danger, stress, fear, a load too hard to carry while we almost reach the way out of this ordeal, when the fog lifts in the distance in Whiteout. More easily qualifiable as a white noise cousin than music or ambient, the last track leaves us in uncertainty as for the outcome of our journey. Unlike the rest of the album, Whiteout seems to describe the protagonist's state of mind more than the situation in which he's evolving. Strewed by shrill layers of sounds simulating tinnitus, this composition isolates ourselves almost entirely in our head, even though we tried to escape from this fate. The only external manifestations we hear are the periodic moans of the metal panels of our icebreaker, covered by what seems to be a heavy rain. However, alone, stunned and immobilised on the bridge, Eschate Thule leaves us in the expectancy concerning the last word of the story. And it's especially thanks to this possibility to decide of the end of the album, happy or not, that I appreciated Mystified's work.

The 52 minutes of listening are like an iceberg : cleverly oscillating between large dark ambient foundations in Deep In The Tundra or Northwest Passage, while adding some more lightened elements like in Bering Strait or Patriotic Exploration, Eschate Thule is an original album carried by many orchestral elements, whose freezing atmosphere from the North-Atlantic will take you in a supernatural expedition.

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