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25 Sep 2010

Review: The Empty Circle Part I: Swirling Lands of Disquiet and Catharsis (The Joy of Nature)

The Joy of Nature
The Empty Circle Part I: Swirling Lands of Disquiet and Catharsis
Ahnstern, 2008

The first in a trilogy exploring the three stages of the alchemical opus, The Empty Circle Part I: Swirling Lands of Disquiet and Catharsis is a journey through the dark worlds of the nigredo, the depressive mystery of isolation and dissolution that provokes the transformative journey from lead to gold.

The music on offer draws on a vast range of folk, ambient, and experimental influences to create pieces that are less songs than soundscapes, journeys deep into inner space. Textural, non-linear, and amazingly intricate, each track segues into the next like a series of half-remembered dreams.

Luis Couto, the mastermind of The Joy of Nature, displays incredible levels of multi-instrumental ability and compositional vision. Each piece on the album stands strongly on its own feet, yet the whole circle weaves together into a gestalt that is far more than the mere sum of its parts. True to the alchemical mysteries, it loops back upon itself thematically as it explores all the inky corners of what Jung termed the shadow – the things that lurk outside the clearing of consciousness.

Heavily laden with synchronistic beauty, this is an album that rewards deep exploration and reflection. The music is rich, subtle, and evokes a string of all-encompassing worlds, like pearls on the necklace of the hermaphrodite Mercurius. Couto has fulfilled the ambition of this release with an assured genius that bodes well for the sequel albums in the series of The Empty Circle.

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