Aural Hypnox – Underworld Transmissions

Aural Hypnox – Underworld Transmissions CD Aural Hypnox 2019

This CD represents the closing of the Underworld Transmissions series as it collates together the three earlier cassettes issued in 2014 and 2015. Of those earlier releases each contained two tracks each, thus totalling six tracks and nearly 60 minutes of music on this collated album. To quote from the cover regarding the concept and series, it states: “Underworld Transmissions was Aural Hypnox label series, filmed and captured on tape in the private séances held in our subterranean lodge located in Oulu, Northern Ostrobothnia. The concept was to invite artists from the Helixes collective, in different combinations, to join a séance and to establish through sound and movement an elemental communication. In greater sense, apart from personal goals, these séances aimed to bring forth the seasonal currents of the lodge; the undertone of the Aural Hypnox label and the artists involved. Each séance was guided by a unique automatic-portal-portrait reflecting the planetary and stellar distances seen at that particular time in the lodge altar mirror-receiver. All audio was captured live on tape by using binaural recording technique. Films were captured during séances and also in the preceding and subsequent sessions that took place in Other Rooms and in the surrounding wilderness. The candles have been extinguished; transmissions completed”.

Due to the apparent improvisational nature, the musical output of the Underworld Transmissions series sits more at the abstract end of label’s discography, and in sonic terms this is possibly most comparable to the minimalist style of Aural Holograms (a lone album was released by Aural Hypnox back in 2007). Séance I/2013 (November 2013) and is a composition of deep subterranean atmospheres, slow sustained drones generated by sparse bowed and blown instruments. Additionally some distant chants appear to mark the path, and assist in evoking a minimalist meditative aura. Séance I/2014 (January 2014) follows, and although still minimalist in style is slightly more animated, with a mid-pointed tonal range and wavering notes looping in a non-melodious patterns. Moving onto Séance II/2014 (March 2014) the track takes a short moment to get going but quickly elevates into a heavily cinematic, ritual ambient soundscape. Although drones form the compositional backbone, tense and urgent abstract sounds sweep and pan through the speakers, coupled with sustained atonal horn and string notes which rise to elevated crescendos of almost modern classical proportions (Penderecki certainly comes to mind in the later more animated sections of the piece). Séance III/2014 (April, 2014) then evokes a dank catacomb atmosphere with slow pounding ritualised thump, buried chants and abstract scraping/ creaking textural sounds, which at its sonic peak is not too far from a death industrial style. Great in other words. Moving towards the back of the collection, Séance IV / 2014 (July 2014) is a hazy atonal soundscape of shifting analogue drones and creaking sonorities which cyclically build to forceful sonic impact. Séance I / 2015 (January 2015) concludes the set which follows similar sonic paths, although is embedded with a more mysterious tone within its droning dark ambient frame.

Being housed in an oversized, screen printed cardboard cover, with a 16-page xeroxed booklet it is a fitting closure to the concept and séance cycle. Likewise with each of the original tapes being limited to mere 50 copies, this CD reissue a slightly larger run at 150, but clearly it won’t be available for long given how well the physical editions of the Aural Hypnox label engages with the fetishist collectors mindset.

Arktau Eos – Erēmos

Arktau Eos – Erēmos CD Aural Hypnox 2018

After the abstracted and minimalist Catacomb Resonator CD/LP from 2017, Arktau Eos have returned to a slightly more direct musical form, although this is clearly still within the enveloping ritual ambient framework for which the group is known and lauded. As is typical with this form of music, it’s structured around interlinking movements to aid flow and meditative/immersive impact; Erēmos features nine tracks, spanning 49 minutes of dour, slow evolving, minor-tuned melodies, droning soundscapes, and subtle field recordings.

The Liminal Pilgrim opens the album with swelling drones, catatonic drum pulse, and looped elements (sounding like twittering birds) which evokes a very organic and ritualistic sound, far from a computer-generated sounds palette, while a variety of other subtle layered sonic elements create diversity despite the minimalist ambient framework. After the extremely short one-and-a-half-minute track Facing The Exarchs Of Desolation, the following piece He Who Drinks The Light Of The Stars arrives with slow and sustained intertwining minor-keyed melody lines and pulsating synth tones, which further blend with various shimmering and metallic-toned ritual percussion. Autochthon is perhaps the most divergent piece by virtue of its swirling vortex of animated and surreally disorientating layers. Likewise, late album track In The Jaws Of Basalt Lions is a particular standout with its forceful droning framework, ascending/descending melodic line and sparse ritualistic percussion.

Of particular note on Erēmos is the archaic ritual- and occult-infused atmosphere embedded throughout, which is mostly derived from the deep analogue tone of the synthesizers. This generates a strong sense of mysterious and ethereal otherworldliness, but is also tinged with a strong degree of musicality in both sound and general direction, even if the instrumentation is atypical, such as a hand pump organ, archaic-toned synthesizers, and various ritual percussive implements. Although pretty much everything issued on the Aural Hypnox label constitutes mandatory listening for me, Erēmos is a pinnacle album which continues to reward with newly noted sonic details and nuances on repeat listens.

Arktau Eos ‎– Catacomb Resonator

Arktau Eos Catacomb Resonator CD Aural Hypnox 2017

By way of background, the Finnish duo of Arktau Eos released their first three albums via Aural Hypnox label between 2006 and 2009, while the fourth and fifth albums were then simultaneously issued on Svart Records in 2012. Now after a 5 years absence Arktau Eos have returned with new material and again issued via Aural Hypnox, and although Catacomb Resonator is billed as the new ‘album’, in reality it features only a single track of 37 minutes in length.

Although all projects on the Aural Hypnox label can be broadly slotted under the ritual/drone/dark ambient categories, in the past Arktau Eos have displayed a greater degree of musicality and instrumentation than other roster artists, which on early albums made compositions feels to be more akin ‘songs’ than sonic ‘movements’. Yet that established approach has been forgone on Catacomb Resonator, given it has opted for a sprawling drone and vocal chant oriented framework. As I understand it, this album is a predominantly a vocal based work, where this both provides the focus and source material which has been subject of additional treatment and coupled with a minimalist backing of electronics (‘archaic bells’ are also noted on the cover as a sound input, but these are not individually detectable).

The use of word ‘catacomb’ within the title perhaps gives an immediate clue to the tonal depth and sonic reverb employed, which allows low deep chants to rise from the depth to central prominence, to then cyclically fall away only to rise and build again. Those vocal elements are then counterpointed by spartan synth elements which follows the same cyclic rise/ fall pattern.  Vocally speaking the chants do not appear to be articulating specific words or lyrics, and given the applied sonic treatments they resemble a drone ambient element. Likewise given the meditative and catatonic pacing of the track, it is very much a dark and minimalist sound you have to immerse yourself in to get the most out of it.

For me personally, I already have established favorite releases from the group which includes Mirrorion, as well as the sprawling double album Ai Ma Ra.  While for me Catacomb Resonator does not surpass either of those releases, this says more of its deviating approach than any sort of lack of quality, as regardless of my personal preferences all Arktau Eos releases to date have been of excellent quality (this included). Presentation wise Catacomb Resonator has been issued on both CD with screen printed foldout 7”ep sized cover, and on LP in two colour variations for the screen printed sleeve.

Halo Manash – Elemental Live Forms MMV – Initiation


Halo Manash – Elemental Live Forms MMV – Initiation CD Aural Hypnox 2016

First things first, this is not a new album from this Finnish ritual collective, rather it is a release which has been excavated from their past archives.  In this context ‘Elemental Live Forms MMV – Initiation’ functions to bring to light a series of previously unreleased tracks which were presented at Halo Manash’s first live performance in 2005, which itself followed their 2004 ‘Syoma’ album.  9 tracks or ‘movements’ feature herein, and despite each constituting part of an interlinking whole, they are contextually split under sub-headings of ‘The Trial of Bones’, ‘The Path of Fire’ & ‘The Ghost Ceremony’ to reflect the intended ritual cycle.

Musically speaking, the trajectory of Halo Manash over time has been one which has demonstrated an gradual evolution toward greater abstractness and musical restraint.  ‘Elemental Live Forms MMV – Initiation’ then differs ever so slightly from the ritually minimalist and amorphously ethereal sounds of later Halo Manash works. So although the music is clearly recognizable as that of Halo Manash, there is also a degree of musicality, drive and urgency here, which can perhaps be explained by that the material was presented in a live setting.  Yet this is also not to say that this album presents actual ‘songs’ or ‘melodies’, it is rather a case the synths, chanted vocals, structural loops and tribalised percussion is in the most part more forceful and driving than usual.

From the opening moments tribal floor-tom percussion, swirling percussive textures, snaking synths and ritualistic chants/ horns introduce the album, and from this point the listener is dragged into a dynamic 40 minute ritual ambient morass.  Although the tone ebbs and flows in intensity (depending on the track), and despite it ‘atypical’ musical form, the presented movements never feels improvised.  As a listening experience this is as strong as any other album within Halo Manash’s canon, but it can also be considered an important document of the evolution of the group from its earliest phase, given its sonic focus and drive which pushes ever onwards through the 9 presented movements.

Packaging wise, the regular edition features an 8-page booklet, 8 postcards and additional insert, all housed in an oversized screen-printed cardboard which upholds the instantly recognisable aesthetic of the Aural Hypnox label.  Also available in a limited special CD edition and limited cassette edition.

Halo Manash ‎– Haudattujen Valvoja


Halo Manash – Haudattujen Valvoja CD Aural Hypnox 2015

Following the closure of the Forest Music ‘treelogy’ in 2009 (i.e. the trilogy of ‘Language of Red Goats’, ‘Am Kha Astrie’ and ‘Taiwaskivi’), Halo Manash returned in 2013 with the far more composed and musically focused released ‘Wesieni Wainajat’ (reviewed here).  Now a further two years on, Halo Manash have again resurfaced, where a shift back towards ritual ambient intent is noted.  With its musical scope being slightly rougher and droning in execution, evidently the seven ‘movements’ featured herein were previously presented live between 2013-2014 (in Russia Austria, Finland, Sweden and USA).  Furthermore the rougher ritualistic tone and focused droning atmospheres can then be put down to the use of predominantly homemade instruments and the methods of recording, which to quote from the album promo blurb: “the sonic-portals or liquid-entrances in ‘Haudattujen Valvoja’ are all authentic live recordings captured on tape with only two microphones in the group’s private Temple Hwaar”.

By way of providing a contextual link, the opening track ‘Wesieni Wainajat’, mirrors the name of the last Halo Manash album.  But unlike its more musical predecessor, sonically this track covers deep resonating bass notes, low whispered chanting and general catacombal ambience (cavernous echoes, dripping water etc.). ‘Aaveet’ then moves towards heavier and heaving sonics, as wailing atonal horns and distant metallic chimes provide tonal depth and (unobtrusive) atmospheric clatter, whilst ‘Kanto’ seeks slightly more focused paths, with a slightly woozy mid paced rhythmic bass throb which are coupled with a range of woodwind tones.  Late album track Haudattujen Valvoja’ then features as the most individually distinctive with its sparse but echo tinged percussive melody, coupled with distant drones and further whispered chants (in a word: entrancing). But without describing all compositions and their differences, it is of greater relevance that there is a high degree of tonal similarity across the 7 songs (and 72 minutes), which provides for all-encompassing ritualistic atmospheres to immerse oneself in such an elongated meditative journey.

If you have not been particularly taken by prior output from Halo Manash, ‘Haudattujen Valvoja’ will not alter your view; yet equally for all other devotees it is another mandatory journey into the netherworld of the spiritual subconscious.  Available in two editions; the first is the regular cardboard foldout cover with booklet and inserts; in addition to a beautiful limited versions which includes a rusted steel plate with special etched symbol and additional screen-printed inserts, all housed in a screen-printed cloth bag.


Aural Hypnox: recent batch of cassettes

The ever intriguing Finnish label Aural Hypnox continues their release campaign of special handmade editions from their expanding label roster. Here are four recent releases, all in limited special edition packaging and exclusively presented on the cassette format. Noting the stunning attention to detail that Aural Hypnox have demonstrated in the past to all sonic, visual and physical aspects of their releases; these new releases are further testament to their unwavering vision and perfect execution of it. A brief rundown on each is provided below.


Aeoga – Impaled By The Midnight Chant MC Aural Hypnox 2014

Aeoga’s tape features two separate live recordings from 2014, yet both live recordings feature the same three interlinked compositions. As demonstrated by this tape, Aeoga are flag bearers for the recognised sound of the label; a sound which embodies the epitome of ritualistic dark ambient soundscapes built around sparse instrumentation, wailing ritual horns and sustained drones. As with much of this music presented within a live setting a cyclic approach is evident were there sound gradually builds to then fall away again, however on this tape the sound is quite a bit heavier and grindingly forceful than the bulk of Aeoga’s studio output. Likewise despite featuring the same tracks, both recordings (1 per side of the tape) come off quite differently in tone and feel, therefore warrant individual attention. Packaging for the tape includes an oversized cardboard box with screen printed insets and special package of incense.


Lingua Fungi – Azure Beyond Aural Hypnox 2014

The recent Aural Hypnox inductees Lingua Fungi see their second release on the label in the form of this short two track cassette. The first of the two untitled tracks takes up Side A with sustained (mid toned) celestial tinged drones, which also embodies a slightly rugged and forceful edge to its cyclic revolutions. Sprawling out over a 10 minute span this first piece is generally subdued, but also too active to be truly meditative in tone. On the other hand Side B is far more musical in scope featuring a maudlin melody and plucked and bowed string instruments which intertwine within radiating and warmth exuding drones. Simply sublime. Oversized screen-printed cardboard box, inserts and special incense packet rounds out the presentation.


Aural Hypnox – Underworld Transmissions III MC Aural Hypnox 2015

This third edition in the ‘Underworld Transmissions’ provides two more séance recordings from various members of the Aural Hypnox collective, which explains the use of the label name as the project moniker. Side A features ‘Séance IV / 2014 (July 2014)’, being a hazy atonal soundscape of shifting analogue drones and creaking sonorities which cyclically build to forceful sonic impact. Side B then features ‘Séance I / 2015 (January 2015)’, which follows similar sonic paths, although is imbedded with a more mysterious tone within its droning dark ambient frame. Both tracks are absorbing in a very positive way and packaging comes in the form of a small screen-printed cardboard box and mini-booklet insert.


Templum N.R. – Spectrum CCCXC: Transitio MC 2015

The mysteriously named Templum N.R. are the newest addition to the roster, but evidently is the first and only release to be widely promoted, as all future releases can only be obtained by responding the subscription letter provided with the release.  The evocatively titled ‘Whispers Echo into a Monolith’ is the first of two tracks, where its title gives a strong ‘mind’s eye’ impression before the piece even starts.  Sonically it delivers a miasmic piece of pulsing analogue drones mixed with plenty of rough and scattered textual elements, ritualistic percussive sounds and swirling disembodied vocalisation to make a very strong and forceful initial impression.  The second of two tracks ‘The Glow Breathed Out from the Aphotic Depths’ seeks deviating paths and after a ritualistic chimed introduction it delivers a stunning piece of contemporary classical styled music, where cyclic violins motifs and deep bowed cello drive the tone of the piece with gradually building intensity.  Late in the piece some quite forceful trial percussive elements and chanted vocals drive the piece to its conclusion.  Oversized screen-printed cardboard box and inserts and canvas patch rounds out the packaging, and with the focused force of the music it will be extremely interesting to see how the Templum N.R. concept evolves.  Recommended.

I.Corax – From Goldem Flesh to Silverb One / Kuilu



I.Corax – From Goldem Flesh to Silverb One Aural Hypnox CD 2014

I.Corax – Kuilu CD Aural Hypnox 2014

After recently inducting I.Corax into the Aural Hypnox fold, the release campaign of the project’s back catalogue continues.  Here we have two additional reissues of earlier I.Corax albums dating from 2003 and 2004 respectively, both of which were released on the short lived Finnish record label Blue Sector.

Up first is ‘From Goldem Flesh to Silverb One’ which is credited as a live studio rehearsal which was recorded in preparation for a live performance in September, 2003.  This album spans 46 minutes with 8 interlinking untitled tracks, thus unfurls as a singular long form compositions.  Embedded within the core of the album is a hazy disorienting tone within a constantly morphing and enveloping aura.  As such the album broadly covers an animated atmosphere of layered looped elements, including wailing ritual horns, with other passages spanning serene widescreen ritual/ dark ambient soundscapes which to a degree reminds of the atmosphere of label mate Zoat Aon.  Other passages seek tensile droning ritual ambient atmospheres underscored with prominently layers of natural/ nature based field recordings, throbbing bass undercurrents, sparse ritualised chimes and twisted unintelligible vocalisations.

The next album ‘Kuilu’ was issued in 2004 its original form, however the recording itself dates from March 2002, being a live recording of I.Corax’s first live performance. As such 4 tracks spanning 40 minutes (6 to 13 minutes each) evoke sweeping and darkly brooding atmospheres which is a touch less animated and slowly paced when compared to ‘From Goldem Flesh to Silverb One’.  ‘The Face of the Sun’ opens proceedings with subdued but shimmering looped structure, where additionally sound elements and disorienting vocalizations are gradually added to greater swirling miasmic effect. This piece bleeds directly into the next tracks ‘Menhir’ which follows a similar sonic template of loose loops and scattered sonic elements but introducing a slow thumping ritual beat to provide a greater degree of focus.  Alternately with its sparse swilling structure, distant widescreen drones and low sporadic bass thumps ‘Tephra’ follows a more straight forward dark ambient sound, whilst the final of the four pieces ‘Animus Desertis’ concludes the album in a style and sound reminiscent of 1970’s space synth music, complete with darkly brooding galactic toned echoed/ droning/ sweeping synth lines and microtonal/ scratching sound elements etc.

Noting that the more recent studio recorded material of I.Corax incorporates a greater degree of synthetic elements and encompasses an overarching swirling, chaotic and at times disorientating atmosphere, these two earlier recordings are somewhat more controlled and seem to be underscored a greater reliance on actual played instrumentation.  As such this would seem to be the sonic by-product of these recordings being derived from a live setting, rather than the more complex studio recordings from the project.  As per the established visual aesthetic for Aural Hypnox, the packaging for both constitutes beautifully designed screen printed cardboard covers, with a range of printed inserts and booklets.  Both albums are available separately or otherwise housed together in a hand-made silkscreened cloth pouch in a limited edition of 77 copies.