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A Quiet Apocalypse by Wendy Darling Over the past couple of years, I've become a big fan of Queens-based Middle Pillar, a music distributor (and sometime label) specializing in "gothic, ambient, magick, industrial and esoteric titles," the likes and number of which anybody is unlikely to ever find in a music shop. Their enormous catalog includes everything from Italian "Classical" goth to experimental noise to dark meditation music to Scandinavian industrial. Middle Pillar has really good taste as well, or so I've found, and so this fall I decided to go through their catalog, mark some titles that looked good (grabbing some sound samples online just to check) and place an order.Among the several titles I ordered was the subject of this review, Ta'wil by Children of the Apocalypse (C.O.T.A.). Middle Pillar's catalog had described the album as a "ritualistic and tribal classic" and that was the hook for me, because I'm on the lookout for good dark meditation and/or ritual music and a group with "Apocalypse" in its name whose music is described as "ritualistic and tribal" sounded like one I'd like to hear. And once I heard the samples on the group's web site, I knew I was right and clicked "Add to Cart."The packaging on the CD, originally released in 1996 and remastered and re-released in 2003, is a beautiful digipak, which I wouldn't mention normally in a music review, but not only is the packaging exceptional, but it fits the music on the disc to a tee. It's light brown, with the feel of a forest tribe about it, roots (or are they thorns?) on the front cover, beautiful calligraphic fonts throughout, and nature symbols. The smooth matte finish feels like soft wood, not the glossy processed feel of most CDs. The album begins by immersing the listener in the sounds of the outdoors. "Blood and Soil" conjures a landscape of birds cackling, flutes oozing gentle songs, half-heard words, a tribal chant, someone slowly strumming an acoustic guitar. It's slow and steady, yet feels solid, as if the recording is taking the listener on a trip down a slow, muddy river. Birds sings in the trees, branches and vines hang down in the water, and voices drift in from the villages. With "Dark Reaction," the album slides into a different direction, moving somewhere darker, perhaps into the forests. This track features more electronic elements, dark space music, backed with a slow tribal beat that begins like a slow heartbeat or stamping feet, gradually building into a dance. One can easily visualize a group of tribal people dancing around a fire, faster and faster, letting the energy of the universe flow through them and back out again."Ismaeli" seems to go to an even darker place. Perhaps it's because it's somewhat hard to completely grasp the heavily-filtered vocal track, clearly a recitation of a poem about "the Garden of Paradise," but the track has a creepy edge to it. The garden is well-watered by streams, Shaded by trees.It is full of luscious fruit and sweet-smelling plants...
The words are coming out of the dark, from a place of great power, and that power is not necessarily aimed towards the good. The words of a god or a dark priestess, a prophetess, her voice possessed and unearthly. Eventually the voice fades and the song moves to percussion and sounds of water, almost as if the song is cleansing itself of the dark elements.The title track, "Ta'wil," is another dark piece, dominated towards the beginning by a deep voice over bells which are decidedly not Jingle Bells. Perhaps the bells are possessed by demons, or simply hanging in a dark place, moved by unclean winds. From here the song moves into an exotic, Middle Eastern flavored instrumental, sounding at first like music to accompany a journey, but towards the end like a medium-tempo, very intense dance."Song for the Fifth World" is purely instrumental, with electronic and acoustic instruments creating a sonic landscape that, for someone carrying out a ritual or doing a meditation, can turn into anything. One can picture a harrowing journey up a mountain top or the flight of an eagle over a waterfall. I can easily picture somebody stretching or doing Yoga to this music.The final track on the album, "Spiritual Warfare" is full of drama, like a movie soundtrack. I picture clashing armies, cities in ruin... perhaps the Apocalypse? (It would fit the band name, after all.) Dark clouds gather, lighting strikes, and there is no mercy as the song lurches forward through mud. In fact in one section of this track, I got the impression the music was dragging and finally realized that in a way, it sounds like either a techno track or a hip hop back beat slowed way down. Later on it speeds up, until at long last, it fades away.
With that Ta'Wil is complete. There are only six tracks, but since they range from seven to fourteen minutes each, the disc definitely constitutes an album. The lengthy tracks are another reason the CD makes such outstanding music for use in rituals and meditation; the tracks are long enough that one can carry out a lengthy visualization or ritual without any abrupt changes in tone. The music is also ideal for such use because it's largely voiceless, human voices confined to droning, chanting, whispering, and reciting bits of poetry, without lyrics to complicate things. One can simply let the mind roam through the worlds of sound. Interesting this plan distributed from the Tesco. The confection digipak is a orpello secondary if reference is made the qualities of the disc. It is begun with Blood and soil, a whispered brano of dense folk, in which every emphasis it is announced publicly in favor of nostalgic nenia made up of redundant guitar and stuffed with wadding percussions, flavored from sostrato of vocals and natural noises. Personally I think the trace to it of the entire job less important. E' from the successive Dark reaction in fact, that it comes R-a.galla in disturbing and effective way, the more industrial and rituale vein, based, on repetitions, harmonic echoes and percussive reiterazioni, but very structured in order to construct an alarming atmosphere of raggelato misticismo. In this kind of work the ritmico element has great impact, in a position to convogliare the mind of the listener in one be ipnotico fact of mysterious contemplation and swarms of cineree sonorit. I adore the roboante, sciamanico use in its incedere, of tamburi and percussions that generate a frastornante climax of tribale magic and cite, like example only reported and exclusively to this aspect, Ulf Soderberg. E' po' a return to ancestral simbiosi preistorica, a travel in the dusk of the grembo human, where the sound push-button of the cardiac heartbeat accompanies every moment of the increase. Ombroso carrying out itself of the following brani has remembered me a lot the sonorit of an equally fascinating group like the Tribe of Circle. Who knows them knows to what refers. The tenebrous fascination of rough carpets of electronics segmentato from linear evolutions of the most varied stiff percussions to render cyclical movements elementary, until putting molding on an other truth. The juice of the disc is all in this difficult relationship of attraction. Easy to remain some stregati, complicated to deepen I listen and to dip itself on the bottom of the numerous acoustic suggestions that cross it. Draft of one challenge. An audacious one mantra made of blood and earth.This discreet dated job 1997 see again the light thanks to the operosit of the Tesco, a long scansion of moments of ritual inspired perhaps and of suggestions it acclimatizes them little convincing organizes to you in six ponderose compositions where they make it from landladies pastorali or ipnotiche sonorous webbings of time in time, scandite from omnipresent percussions. The pair that composes Children of the Apocalypse undoubtedly knows to handle the sonorous matter on which the album is contestualizzato: well therefore for that it concerns the choice and the working of the sounds, like in the dragging interesting and "Dark Reaction", a po' less if they are wanted to be tried to the inside of the floppy disk you dull creative innovated or added to you to a kind that it has already given a lot, also and above all thanks to the same Tesco. C.O.T.A. work more rather on chromatic variations, on a sound that is physicist just in its percussiva and genuinely pachidermica dimension, designing crepuscolari scenes and going to contrapporre to the circolarit of drones and the more synthetic sounds acoustic ritmicit never exasperated, that it catches up its climax in the optimal "Songs for the Fifth World". And it is just in the second half of the album that the pair extension sure a marked affiliation back drifts of rock progressive European (the that algider and watertight one, we agree) effectively succeeding to conjugate melodia and psichedelia and showing in pieces like already cited "Songs for..." or "Spiritual Warfare" that one that could be one most fertile possibility of evolution for the children of the apocalypse.

Review ( )In those rare cases, when to you on the way of aimless wanderings on the servers, the sites and simply to the scraps nightmarish home page is encountered the name of the association C.O.T.A., then compulsorily next you will find the word of tribal.The present sense of this term the same slipping off as u, let us say, groovy, but once those, who mention C.O.T.A., compulsorily to it refer, then one should following them recognize:this is very elegant tribal.By no means most present, since true tribal know how to dance only the priests of tribes, forgotten/lost in the jungle and distant from the civilization wallowed in the comfort, after eating till full any agitating and agitating feelings trash.But it is so good, to what extent were good the early disks of that rested Of yuybryds. 3tniko- ritual beginning in the percussion, whose constructions/designs infinitely repeatedly are repeated, it helps this music to take possession of thoughts and feelings of listener, is worthwhile only for it temporarily to be weakened, after lowering a little shielding barrier.You do think, these shaman percussion ways with you will not pass?Nothing, C.O.T.A. (that it is deciphered as Chyuildren Of To tyue To apochalypse) provided other levers of the actions, into number of which enter the measured buzzing background, and the suspiciously indifferent but ordered vocal exercises of chorus and individual personalities, which talk by the conspiratorial language of the released into reverse side tapes, and some strange and a little frightening noise, which impart of this music distinct industrial (that is to say industrial) nuance.Well and marches/flights/marshes here moreover, ask you?Willingly I will answer - with the fact that the music, concluded/included as hearth to guard, on this disk is executed in many places in the very energetic key/wrench.So it is desirable itself to present dark dense forest, blazing bonfire and ranks of sorcerers, shamans, priests and other scientific workers from the adjacent rural megapolises passing past it...Thus, conclusion/derivation is obvious and it is already practically supplied with sound:if to you brings satisfaction hearing the Belgian duet Of yuybryds of the times of their motto To tyue the ritual Of syuould b Of kept Alive, then American duet C.O.T.A., are confident, it will be able to report to you the mass of pleasure, almost larger.Especially as they so rarely gladden community by their relizami...
OPTION This duo blends ambient drones and melodies with tribal percussion, with several tracks landing somewhere between O Yuki Conjugate and Voice of Eye. And, in a relatively rare occurrence for this genre, all six pieces have a distinctive flavor. The first piece is pastoral, with flute and strummed guitar accompanied by sparse muted percussion and sound effects; it nearly sounds medieval. The best material is even more compelling. "Dark Reaction" starts off with an ominous drone; various electronics and percussion build on it, and I couldn't help but give the volume control a healthy twist upward. Other material has a colder feel, with disembodied voice floating above a thick wall of synthesizers. The last two tracks have an orchestral feel that I didn't like at first; they reminded me a bit of some adventurous but pretentious European progressive rock. A couple more listens and that association disappeared, leaving me feeling the way I do now: that this is a good, solid album, well worth owning.
-Scott Lewis

DEAD ANGEL: ISSUE 26 (6/97)Apparently they are naturalists, judging from the look of the long liner notes in the disc booklet, although since the words are brown on brown and of a microscopic typeface, i'll never really know for sure. Regardless of their politics, their sound is pretty interesting... slow, loping tribal drum rhythms and spooky, disembodied synth leavened with trancelike guitar passages (sometimes repetitive figures, sometimes just hum, other times mutant sounds buried in the background), and only sporadic vox. They're big on the slow-motion drone and the shortest song is nearly seven minutes... these are good things....The first track, "Blood and Soil," opens with cycling guitar hum, running water, chirping birds, voices reading from some exotic text, and eventually coalesces into a trancelike dirge guitar supplanted by thudding, distorted drums and an eerie vocal chorus. As the song builds, thick keyboard drones add another layer to the growing wall of sound. Swirling clouds of guitar hum also infiltrate "Ismaeli," along with distorted drums more cryptic chanting vocals and a harsh wall of noise that dies away midway through the song, leaving behind just a tinkering drum track and various odd, watery sounds. Toward the end, the singer intones a passage adapted from the prose of Omar Khayyam; i have no idea who he is, but it sounds awfully exotic....The best track on the disc is probably the fifth one, also the longest at 12:24 -- "Song for the Fifth World." A forbidding beat, dark droning synths, and counterpoint polyrhythms set the engine in motion, often sounding like a mildly heavier version of Voice of Eye. The hypnotic beat is augmented by regular hissing much like blasts from a furnace, or perhaps an approaching dust storm. The sound gradually builds in intensity, growing louder and more complicated, until it finally dissolves in a spiral of hissing and droning. Hard to follow, but the closing "Spiritual Warfare" manages to pull it off with gradiose orchestral bombast (not to mention the occasional burst of noisy fury). The overall feel is somewhere between a less-crazed Crash Worship and a more orchestrated answer to Voice of Eye... not a bad combination. The name, incidentally, stands for Children of the Apocalypse, and apocalyptic is as good a label as any for their dense, brooding sound.

CAUTION! On-line Magazine Monumental dark classical stuff from the same label as Crash Worship. Where Endura evoke caves and dungeons, COTA hail from wide open spaces - more manic and howling, but still lit by the moon. There are 6 pieces here, the space on the CD allowing each to really get going and raise an atmosphere. The percussion is biting and syncopated and the accompanying drones are exquisitely beautiful and rich. This is one I've gone back to again and again. There's a limited version of this that comes in an impressive but definitely not vegan-friendly stitchedcow-hide pouch. (From a found cow corpse, rather than a slaughtered one, they stress).
- JE

BRUTARIAN Bird calls. Mysterious and inviting. Water rushing over rocks above. The drip drop drip of rainfall on a canopy of thick oversized leaves and lush fauna. Or perhaps it is a forest of tall redwoods. But here you are standing deathly still. Listening. Listening. And then it starts. Hollow plunk and mournful ping of primitive accoustical instruments establish subdued but insistent rhythms while the synthesized drone of our primitive ancestors calls to us. At other times it is the guitar singing songs of love and loss to us in a few simple chords. In this world of perpetual twilight. Listen. Here is wonder. Here is that which is of us yet beyond us. Sublime. Supernal. Supreme. Music falling, dying and rising again. The enchantment of firewater drunk to the dregs as dusk begs the kind indulgence of day.

Side-Line C.O.T.A. is the abbreviation of CHILDREN OF THE APOCALYPSE. It's an American duo composing outstanding ritual/tribal stuff! The 6 tracks from their beginning cd Ta'Wil is a 100% masterpiece. This project created an extreme dark mood with mystical atmospheres. It's a deep artistic work, which on their opening track "Blood and soil" reminds me to GREATER THAN ONE (from the All the masters licked me lp-period) meets DEATH IN JUNE. On the second track "Dark reaction", C.O.T.A. goes on with a more than 11 minutes during piece, containing devastating trancy effects in conjunction with tribal rhythms. Tracks like "Ismaeli" and "Spiritual warfare" show you the same dark structures, this time accompanied by female vocals. This last piece from more than 10 minutes is a real masterpiece, but I'll still mention the more electronic minded "Song for the fifth world" as other highlight. Ta'Wil is an absolute essential release if you're fond of dark soundscapes!


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