AMN Reviews: Visions & Phurpa – Monad (2018; Cyclic Law)

The term monad refers to a singularity or a single being. The album Monad brings together two artists well-known in dark ambient spaces. Visions is Frederic Arbour (label head of Cyclic Law) and Phurpa is a loose-knit monastic group led by Russian Alexey Tegin. The former contributes dense, layered organic drones and sparse object percussion, while the latter offers throat singing and chants. But not infrequently, the two combine into seamless atmospheric structures as the title might suggest.

Consisting of four tracks in the eight to twelve minute range, Monad is an exploration of the sacred yet ominous, and the ancient but powerful. Representative is the title track, which begins with a windswept soundscape. A couple of minutes in, mournful chanting begins and slowly ramps up in intensity. Throat singing is added, but the vocals never overpower the underlying synth-formed strata. In the last minute, a subtle crescendo is reached, are the voices finally reach the foreground. And with a final, plaintive call, the track ends.

There is something unabashedly medieval or even antediluvian about this album, despite modern technology being used to create that feel. The vocal elements are compelling in particular, especially given their unusual approach. This is a good one for those who enjoy their ambiance cinematic and brooding.