Review: Mystified - Passing Through the Outer Gates (2010)


artist: Mys­ti­fied
release: Passing Through the Outer Gates (Eulogy Series, Volume 1)
format: CD
year of release: 2010
label: First Fallen Star
dur­a­tion: 50:06

detailed info: dis​cogs​.com

Mys­ti­fied is the nom de guerre of Thomas Park, who man­ages to put out more than a dozen releases every year. It makes you won­der whether the level qual­ity of each of those can pos­sibly be adequate, but in the case of Passing Through the Outer Gates, there is no cause for con­cern, as this is a subtle ambi­ent album that com­bines spir­itual concept mat­ter with crafty com­pos­i­tion.

This CD is volume one in the Eulogy Series by First Fallen Star Records, a con­cep­tual line in which artists are encour­aged to music­ally reflect on their own death. In Park’s case, the res­ult is an expres­sion of the idea of the soul posthum­ously passing through a series of gates, before reach­ing the after­life. This belief, which Park for him­self terms “Dark New Age”, has its par­al­lels in Gnosti­cism and related reli­gious cur­rents.

The eight tracks here rep­res­ent these stages of the jour­ney of the soul. At first, in the begin­ning tracks, orches­tral sounds dom­in­ate, brief sketches of melody con­sti­tut­ing min­imal sound­scapes. Sub­dued per­cus­sion rhythms are already present here, but only in later tracks do these really come to the fore, as we can hear in “Lost My Body”, “Approach­ing Some­thing”, and “Soul in Motion”. Par­tic­u­larly the lat­ter two have strong, driv­ing rhythms. One ima­gines the soul gently glid­ing and search­ing dur­ing the first stages, pick­ing up speed gradu­ally on its way toward “The Final Gate”. This one is taken calmly once more, con­sist­ing mostly of snip­pets of melody fall­ing into the right places, like magic words to open the gate.  “The Soul’s Rest­ing Place” seems merely a short after­thought, as if it was the jour­ney that really mattered after all.

A won­der­ful jour­ney it was, both calm­ing and enga­ging. This isn’t an album that exactly com­mands atten­tion, and it is in some ways easy to dis­miss. How­ever, it cer­tainly does reward atten­tion, reveal­ing a sub­tlety of com­pos­i­tion that is a joy to listen to dur­ing quiet moments. A suc­cess­ful first instal­ment for this series, in other words, and one pack­aged in a very fine A5 digi­pak, at that. The front cover is black with sil­ver let­ter­ing, with a coffin-shaped cut-out in the centre, reveal­ing part of the rich art­work behind. Next up in the series is Svart­sinn, so there’s more to look for­ward to.

Reviewed by O.S.

Track­list:

1. Eulogy For Thomas Park (7:50)
2. Dark Trans­ition (7:37)
3. Lost My Body (4:46)
4. Up Down Or Out (8:05)
5. Approach­ing Some­thing (6:08)
6. Soul In Motion (5:18)
7. The Final Gate (7:36)
8. The Soul’s Rest­ing Place (2:47)

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