AMN Reviews: Raison d’Etre – Alchymeia (2018; Cyclic Law)

Raison d’Etre’s Peter Andersson has released over a dozen albums under this moniker. All of these are satisfying, if not genre-defining, examples of ethereal dark ambiance. Alchymeia is his first new effort since 2014 and consists of four tracks coming in at about 17 minutes each.

At first blush, the album appears to be more in the electroacoustic vein than previous releases. Along with slow, deep drones, Andersson supplies rattling percussion and object noises, bells, bassy rumblings, and crashing thunder. As each piece evolves, these aspects move in and out of focus but never really disappear. And the chanting…on Nigredo monks seem to be reading from a sacred text, Albedo evokes the low-frequency singing of giants in their mountain halls, and Citrinitas features choral work. Throughout, there is something sinister at work – a disquieting intentionality that remains mysterious but omnipresent.

Indeed, Alchymeia is intended to be a journey through the subconscious based on Carl Jung’s notion of archetypes. In that sense, the juxtaposition of concrete, organic foreground elements with more subtle background layers seems to represent the inescapable link between conscious thought and that which lies underneath. Accordingly, the background ebbs and flows, but comes to tenebrously dominate the focus of each track. But even without the psychology, this is a compelling release and a high point of Andersson’s career.