Though inspired by the culture and rites of the Russian Orthodox Church, when Hierophany first opens its maw, it sounds like the fiery forges of Hell, or at least some hellish, rust belt steel mill. But perhaps Ghent´s Yannick Franck is on the same wavelength as 13th-century thinker Albertus Magnus (Catholic rather than Orthodox), who thought the music of the universe was not one of sweet proportions generated by the perfectly aligned spheres, but rather a man-made pursuit that served to purge the soul, open it to contemplation and bring it closer to illumination.
Franck´s thirty-odd minute suite in three movements begins with “Mausoleum”, an appropriate place to ruminate on life after death, and continues with “The Dive” before “Dying Down”. The drone he generates only sporadically reveals some of its source material – we can hear people, not at their devotions, people going about their city business – as it shifts gradually from hellacious to spacious calm inducive to contemplation. Ultimately a whiff of plainchant floats by, before all heaven breaks loose like all the bells in Moscow and Petersburg combined and finally – almost cathartically – a choir.
Though recorded in 2012 and released in early 2013, Hierophany is Franck´s latest solo offering. Seamless from start to finish, it captures a highpoint of his creativity while also fulfilling Albertus Magnus´ ancient criteria. It entices to closer listening while perfectly content at just being.