The Ossuary [Review by Psymon Marshall (1208 North Fuller Ave Apt 1)
Updated: Feb 8, 2020
Album: The Ossuary
Catalogue no: N/A
1. As Above So Below
2. Eliphas Levi’s Baphomet
3. Hermetic Origin
4. Microcosm and Macrocosm
The Paris Catacombs: one of those places that over the centuries has accumulated layers and layers of myth and legend. The Ossuary, a project of UK-based sound designer, film composer, and photographer Daljit Kundi, was inspired by this most esoteric of monuments to death, a place wrapped in so much obfuscation and mystery that the lines between fact and fiction often blur, to the detriment of creating a clearer picture. However, as human beings we latch on to the occult aspects of such enigmas, preferring the romantic to the mundane, embroidering and embellishing the tales as the tellings grow, and in the process we make manifest its own genius loci that’s entirely independent of the catacombs’ original purpose. It’s even entered the hallowed precincts of popular culture, in the form of 2014’s As Above, So Below film, which peppered the story with references to mainstays of the Western Magical Tradition and occult conspiracy theory; here I have to admit to having thoroughly enjoyed it, tending as I do towards the occult and esoteric.
It appears that Kundi is also drawn to these aspects too. Even a cursory glance at the track titles will tell you that the project is interested in emphasising the esoteric connections, obviously delving deeply into the myths and legends associated with the place. Prosaically, long-abandoned limestone mines begun in Roman times were reused after public health concerns about overcrowded cemeteries with exposed rotting corpses triggered bouts of deadly disease, finally forcing the authorities to do something. It is said that up to six million individuals are interred here among the estimated 185 miles of tunnels running beneath the city. It isn’t surprising then, when corridors are lined either side with bones, that stories and tales of mysterious events have sprung up and persist.
This four-track album expresses these subterranean concepts in quiet hisses, shimmering planes of drone, whispering winds and exhalations, and crackles and scrapings, creating a range of subdued atmospheres redolent of the grave and of spaces reserved for the dead. This is a place where anything but a whisper is anathema, where the souls and shades of the dead roam randomly in search of a place to rest. These are the nameless and forgotten, the unremembered former inhabitants of the City of Light, now mired in Hadean darkness and oppressive gloom. This really isn’t a fit habitation for the living, but inevitably of course in our quest to conquer the fear of the unknown we’ve introduced light and modern cultural phenomena into its corridors, spoiling and defiling its respectful silences. SINIUS’ compositions go some way in reminding us that even those whose names have been lost to time deserve to rest in peace, to let them exist outside the over-bright world of modern day humanity, and to sleep the long sleep without distraction.
Having outlined the above, that’s not all this music offers. Interweaving between the lines of the purely romanticised aspects attaching to death, the occult layers underpinning our conceptions of the spiritual and esoteric of the darker side of human existence abound here too. There are untapped currents of power here, humming along concealed conduits unavailable to those who aren’t attuned to their frequencies. It’s a multi-layered release, with as many meanings and themes occurring as one can comfortably accommodate. Once can successfully separate them, or view them in combination: either way, I think a close listen will reward the listener, revealing a deep understanding of the streams pertaining to life, death, the universe, and the occult. Take the time to invest your mind into this one – it’s quiet, yes, but then so are the dead, and look how strong an influence over the living they exert in culture. This is the key to this one.
Available as a download from here:
Psymon Marshall 2019.