In July 2005, a small package was delivered to an address in Stamford Hill, London for the attention of Mr Otto Amon and Mr Solomon Kirchner. The gentlemen who received the package have never revealed who sent it to them or what was inside it but a body of urban myth has grown up around the Lapis or Ovoid that was rumoured to have been seen in various locations around London, from Frognal to Fitzrovia.
That’s about it as far as background information goes for this new transmission from Raagnagrok, the spacy duo of Amon and Kirchner. Man Woman Birth Death Infinity explores and expands upon the psychedelic guitar plus electronics kosmische template to create a headphone journey from womb to dark matter.In this day and age, it seems as if there must be some backstory, some angle, some selling point on which an album may ride. Perhaps Mssrs. Amon and Kirchner know this, and are playing with the concept – but luckily, there is no need. This is no mere press hoax hyperbole, as the music contained herein beyond the “Elephanta Gateway” is quite good. The pair have managed to make a classic headtrip of burning, growling electric guitar, trancing electric sitar and homemade, hand-hewn analog electronics.
Man Woman Birth Death Infinity comes off as a meditation record from 1979, but with some modern flourishes. Guitar loops, ubiquitous among duos, set a hypnotic mood that allow the pair to fill the space and elaborate upon a theme: raga status. Raagnagrok also know how to switch it up, elaborating upon the guitar/synth template with hints of percussion, growling bass and strobing tape loops. M W B D ∞ sets a mood and keeps you there, unfurling in the air with sinuous grace, like an oracular vision. It will turn your bedroom/living room/automobile/apartment/five-story mansion into an ageless, vine-covered temple: the air is thick with sandalwood and copal, a rift beyond the stars is rended, and you will see.This thick mood would not be possible if the individual elements were not glowingly captured and laid to tape. The slightest disruption would break the spell, like a lucid dream or out-of-body experience. The guitars sound noble and brave, what it might sound like if Gandalf were playing with Amon Düül II, and the electronics are warm and analog, with a degree of human irregularity which makes them more interesting than the typical digital machineloops. Raagnagrok know how to fill the space, improvising like only two people who know each other and their gear well can do.
Raagnagrok have been described as “kosmische exotica”, “Euclidean Dronemusic For Algorithmic Lovers” and “Mesopotamian Grokmusic For The End Of Days”. This sense of humor mixed with awesomeness makes me think that Iwould like these people, and they are worthy of adulation.
Man Woman Birth Death Infinity will appeal to classic drone heads, to fans of Cluster, Terry Riley and La Monte Young, as well as recent psych masters like Expo 70 and Gnod. If you’re looking for a shamanic journey into past lives, look no further.