High Mountain Tempel - The Glass Bead Game Fred Laird (of Earthling Society)
Deep in the dark twisted California of my mind there resides a secret brotherhood. This brotherhood, adepts in the art of high musical magick. Scratch and crawl an ancient path through the heat and dust of Death Valley. Mutating and altering their feral minds with the process known as coyotenoia.
That this brotherhood can forge music so beautiful and utterly terrifying, whilst remaining so secretive, pointing their telescopes and finding new uncharted space. Then guiding us like the faceless guardian of Etidorhpa through the endless night is one of the reasons I wanted to review this new release. That these Brothers that I can happily call my own, but have yet to meet face to face, offer a musical journey that is completely without ego or self indulgence, where the humming of the night’s skull is the very symphony of your brain, is to declare this one of the best albums of 2008.
The opening track ‘Humming in the night’s skull’ is a masterpiece of suspense.
An almost Mansonoid feel of paranoia permeates the air. A bad trip vibe of unease and desert imagery, dull television skies with insect interference and lung crushing heat. It’s comparable to wandering through one of those nuclear test towns in Nevada wondering if the Jupiter clan might be sharpening their knives for a cannibal feast while observing you through decayed net curtains.
‘The Motherhouse’ my favourite track on the album is a codeine haze of unsettled feverish dreams. Opiate wanderings down long forgotten corridors of childhood. Through the haze you can hear the songs of Mother and the wheeze of the accordion, playing a tune from days gone by, just voices of the dead on an old victrola.
‘The ascended master moves on’ begins with some strange Harry Partch type sounds, played in reverse and submerged in lysergic waters. Keyboards sounding like a alien birdhouse flow into a beautiful oriental setting, giving one the feeling of walking through a hothouse of strange flowers. It reminds me of Theodore’s Wratislaw’s line:
Please less than flowers glass-hid from frost and snows,
For whom an alien heat makes festival
From the bliss emerges again the call of coyotenoia, feral howls and desert night in the ‘Glass bead game’. A throbbing electronic piece that leaves the listener unsettled, Long after the album has finished.
These are just some examples of a truly tremendous effort from HMT. The main tracks are played with just the right amount of intensity giving the songs time to unfold, allowing them to twist and mutate into eerie landscsapes.
There are not many musicians that can make this music and give it their own mark.
THE GLASS BEAD GAME is a remarkable album of ambient music and like I said earlier one of the best albums of 2008.