Sunday, January 1. 2012
Here are a few reviews, transplanted from different sources. I have tried to include dates, authors and links wherever possible. Note that this does not constitute the entire body of mystified reviews, but is a good representation of those that I have on file here at the studio. Enjoy! P.S. Mister Vapor reviews are below the mystified reviews.
"Music For Transit" Reviewed By Heathen Harvest
It was only this past April when Thomas Park made some serious waves in the ambient world via his Mystified alias with a collaboration involving scientific ambient extraordinaire and Ozark Mountain dweller Shane Morris entitled “Epoch” — a work of dense organic drones and synthetic primitive naturalism that was released on Lotuspike; a member of the Spotted Peccary Music Group. Now, Park is intent on making some big waves again; only this time, instead of reaching into the past as a musical direction, he’s reaching back into his own catalog — with the help of Noah Fleischman’s Roil Noise label — to give new life to “Music for Transit”. “Music for Transit” is a collaborative album with Robin Storey of Zoviet France / Rapoon fame that has seen its fair share of releases prior to this point, starting a decade ago with Park himself financing the project and with the album eventually finding its height of popularity through the Soleilmoon Records distro. It would find a new home in a digital format four years later with Blue Water Records and there it would remain until Roil Noise chose to pick it up this year and give it a relatively proper release as a CD-R with a pro-printed gatefold insert in a plastic sleeve.
Although Storey’s name being so firmly attached to this release, it appears that the only track that he actually took part in was the opener, “R. Storey Transit Remix”. All other tracks were mixed by Park originally, and now have an additional polished remastering from Lotuspike’s Ben Cox. Of course, Storey’s relative absence from this release doesn’t necessarily hurt it as the rest of the tracks are classic meditative Mystified. Storey’s track is a pulsating work of stereo flickering that is textured by almost percussive droning and a complex, rhythmic veil towards the end of the track that spans a massive array of layering and manages to both be gentle and mildly abrasive. The entirety of the rest of the album rests in Park’s hands, and while his work is less complex, it is more effective and in many ways more relative to the theme at hand. Unlike Park’s usual dose of minimalism, there is a great deal going on in the tracks featured here. The music created ranges from sparse heavenly textures and monolithic droning voices to meditative trance states and sea/air-themed imagery. Tracks like “Unity of Heaven” specifically stand out because of their mildly ethno-ambient approach, whereas the mood can change almost completely with a following track like “Seaborn II” with distant bell tolls and a darker atmosphere.
Despite being released only a couple of weeks after the Transit of Venus, there appears to be little if anything cosmic about “Music for Transit”. Of course, the ability to interpret is still quite open to the listener’s perspective and can, as such, take on different paths from different viewpoints. Whereas one can see this as a simple soundtrack to drown out the hustle and bustle of the every day life of a travelling man/woman on an overseas journey, another can see something in the complete opposite direction as a deeply spiritual voyage. From projecting your inner sight around the planet in a meditative state to the journey of the soul as it leaves the body on an unavoidable passage into a new state of being, there is almost certainly a deeper personal understanding for the tracks composed on “Music for Transit” that yearn for a closer listen.
It’s strange to think of “Music for Transit” as one more excellent release in a long line of work from Mystified as it is a decade-old release — but in that respect it stands as a tribute to the quality of Park’s career-long dedication to quality in spite of quantity. Every new release has a new direction, every new track has a different level of depth, emotion, or intellectualism behind it. Somehow, there’s always a new journey to be had, and because of this, his music is rarely suffers the ultimate artistic affliction of monotony. Instead, every new work stands as a dedication to a mind that is fervent with imagination and inspiration.
01) Robin Storey Transit Remix
02) Deep and Still
04) Unity of Heaven
05) Pacific 2
08) Silent Swing
09) Short Meditation
Written by: Sage
Label: Roil Noise Offensive (US) / RNOCDR121 / CD-R
Drone / Ambient
--Sage Weatherford, 9/20/2012
"Epoch" Reviewed By Goatsend
Pooling the talents of ambient artists Morris and Mystified (aka Thomas Park), "Epoch" is the initial collaboration in what is planned to be a 3-part auditory journey through prehistoric time and evolution. It's an interesting idea, and this album would make a fitting soundtrack to such a sojourn.
The artists wisely utilize only organic, acoustic instruments here, before processing them heavily with electronics. The resultant sound is a primordial soup of textures and amorphous tonalities. An effected didjeridoo blends with drones and gradually-shifting washes of what sounds like wind instruments in "Devonia". "Triassic Extinction" is a more mysterious ambient journey to a barren landscape, while the 14-minute "Jurassic Dawn" is a droning affirmation of life, from nutrient-laden seas to lush, green landscapes. "Epoch" sums up the beginnings of life well, and I look forward to exploring more of the Earth with Morris and Park. (Lotuspike)
"Epoch" Reviewed By Sonic Curiosity
SHANE MORRIS & MYSTIFIED: Epoch (CD on Lotuspike)
This release from 2012 features 56 minutes of moody ambience.
Morris plays bass drum, bowed gong, didjeridoo and vibraphone). Mystified (aka Thomas Park) plays trombone drones.
This concept album seeks to approximate a soundtrack for the Mesozoic era of Earth's past, when dinosaurs walked the landscape. In keeping with this two-hundred-million year old period, the musicians employed primarily acoustic instruments to create the music. Granted, a certain amount of electronic processing was necessary to transform these acoustic sounds into auralscapes that suitable captured that far-flung epoch.
Trombone drones generate lavish and expanse textures that hang like sooty clouds overhead. This darkness manifests as moodiness more so than any threatening inclination. One definitely gets the impression of standing amid ancient forests of impossibly tall trees whose arcane foliage masks any daylight from reaching the rich loam of the ground.
Didjeridoo and vibraphone augment this antediluvian murkiness with their bass tonalities.
Do not expect literal rhythms from the percussion. Instead the beats are solitary or mutated into near-infinite sounds of haunting definition. In some instances the beats are gathered into jumbled rattlings to mimic creatures lurking in the gloom.
These compositions do an excellent job of capturing the mood of prehistoric times. Their harmonic structure is rife with grinding grittiness and eerie chitterings. The music focuses on the environment, so do not expect to hear the monstrous stompings of thunder lizards (although there is one passage in the last track which can be compared to the buzzing of insects the size of dogs). The musicians' expertise in interpreting a primordial environs is impressive. These tunes superbly evoke a primeval realm wherein evolution is in its infancy and churns as an ongoing process.
"Passing Through The Outer Gates" Reviewed By Imperious Doppleganger
Translated into English by Google Translate
The prominent American musician Thomas Park has surprised us with "Passing through the outer Gates", an album deep, sinister and esoteric. We can not lose the opportunity to comment.
"Passing through the outer Gates" is a work of Mystified First published in Fallen Star (Ref: ffs005) in July 2010.
Played by Thomas Park as a composer and electronic execution from the U.S. and focuses on Dark Ambient style and has a duration of 50.00 minutes.
Links: Mystified & First Fallen Star
Rating: 9.5 out of 10
Thomas Park is an American musician that I find great. I had the pleasure of having heard prior to this review, but now I have the opportunity to comment on one of his most recent works, I can only take to dig a little about his career. Under the pseudonym of Autocad, Mister Steam and Thomas Park has launched only last year the album "The Esoteric Steam" (with The Ghosts Between the Strings), "Altercus", "Songs of the Deep Woods", "Falling out of Orbit "(along with Altus)," Spirit Stars "," Rebel Slave warriors of Alpha Centauri "(with Phillip Wilkerson)," Warped Essence 2 "," Holism Tosom # 02 "(accompanied by Martin Steinebach)," EarthWaves " "Tharmuncrape An'goo Remixes" and "Glow Engine Room" (the latter in collaboration with the great project Nocturnal Emissions), "Fertile Buzz" and "Maschinenfugen" (in a head to head with Mario Löhr). This 2011 painting seems equally prolific and have so far the albums "Dark Rites of Mesmer", "Return Plunderman tf" and "Remembering the Engine". "Passing through the outer Gates", the disc that concerns us this time, was released last summer and is ... fantastic!
Few times in life I found with productions such as "Passing through the outer Gates" in the full sense of the term. I hate to belittle the work of Dark Ambient projects do, but it's hard to find the same product in the music close to perfection, where the Dark Ambient, Ambient, atmospheric and even a pat can complement a minimalist so ... indescribably beautiful that trascendendencia achieved, but beyond this oasis of sound, the musical question which mythological Atlas holding a sublime abysmally conceptual world where sophisticated darkness permeates the environment, making the fifty minutes of drive a fabulous experience. Perfect was the mastering Ciclyc Law, which has left me stunned! If that was not enough, the disk layout (which is in digipack limited edition of 500 copies) is majestic: the images of David Demaret and enMystified - "Passing through the Outer Gates' work generally realize Eclipse Media a mausoleum adorned with a string of sentences, one of which refers to "Beyond the Wall of Sleep" by HP Lovecraft. Thus, the overall design of an esoteric realize quite well done that invites the listener to delve into the concept of Mystified.
When I heard the CD for the first time I could not fully understand all this, it seemed quite prepared for a project of Dark Ambient. Sorry but I have been accustomed to simple designs based on music that does not say more than the same songs, but now I've been a huge surprise because I have my hands on something I think will go down in posterity since it is not a job Commercial and naturally will not insert into the mainstream.
The music not only feeds the spirit, but selfishness. And do not give more details for Gates Passing through the outer or Mystified, this great project not only of pride but of Dark Ambient music as art. I hope that readers can come to work Mentenebre Thomas Park because it is undoubtedly an outstanding musician, capable and talented.
I'm sure will not disappoint.
"Epoch" in Eartickles Review
The collaborators on “Epoch” are very well known in the ambient and experimental music fields. Shane Morris is fluent with many percussion and wind instruments, and hardware and software synths. In addition, he co-owns and operates Ethereal Live. Thomas Park (aka Mystified and Mister Vapor) is a prolific musician in the ambient and atmospheric genres, and he also owns Treetrunk Records and its spinoff, Complex Silence.
Aside from this release, the artists have a huge wealth of back catalogue and experience in a number of genres, and are both gifted innovators. “Epoch” is described in the CD’s sleevenotes as being the first part of an epic trilogy entitled “Inspired Evolution”. Only acoustic instruments and sounds were used in the album’s production.
“Epoch” takes us across four geological time periods, initially to the “Cambrian Explosion”. Here, the listener is immersed in almost tangible primordial dampness and heat, with deep bass and long minor shifting drones. Uncertain shapes slither off at the sides; there is a sense of breath being taken for the first time. It’s extremely compelling listening, and a lovely taste of what’s to come. “Devonia”, the album’s longest cut, lays small seeds down under long, ominous notes which furl and unfurl like sonic rope. The soundscape beguiles the listener with a keening, hypnotic repeated motif hanging in the ether above rock-solid didgeridoo drones. Organic splashes and burbles signify the changes in the forms of terrestrial life. This music is incredibly visual; it’s almost as if we are watching a film. It’s a stunning track, and one which I’ve played again and again.
The shortest offering here, at just under nine minutes long, “Triassic Extinction” represents the end of the period of the same name, where at least half of the species on the planet became extinct. The music is sad and sorrowful, with metallic rings spinning to the left and right of empty, thin drones. Tiny organic sounds flounder in a huge, welling space. When the listener considers the events the music attempts to describe, it becomes a moving piece which seems to reflect the frailty of life against gargantuan forces. It’s very thoughtfully done, and extremely evocative.
The final cut, “Jurassic Dawn”, heralds a time of positive change for the earth; we are now in the age of reptiles, which of course includes the dinosaurs. Vast changes take place in the music compared with the previous tracks. Sounds representative of birds and small mammals are here, but it’s impossible to ignore the presence of large, lumbering creatures, their heavy footsteps thudding as they roam across the ground. Open major drones hint at the potential ahead as this period dawns. There is no stasis here; the music morphs and evolves, widening out descriptively as new forms of life are introduced. The percussive footsteps of the dinosaurs provide percussion, but with no rhythm. A didgeridoo raises uncertain calls as it explores its new world of activity amongst the changing shapes of nature’s novel creations.
I have to confess I’ve never experienced music quite like this before. It would be very easy to use the word cinematic, but that simply would not do justice to what is effectively film drawn in sound. It’s an utterly stunning album, and I cannot wait to hear what the duo conjures up next.
--July 10, 2012 by btocher
"Epoch" in Hypnagogue Review
The really good news is that Epoch, the first collaboration between Shane Morris and Mystified, is the first of a planned “trilogy about prehistoric time and evolution.” Having gone very deep into this mix of strictly organic drones and touches of tribal ambient, I can say that this series is off to a very good start. Dronemeister Thomas Park, aka Mystified, a man whose passion is taking any sound he can get his gear on and finding a way to stretch and meld it into new shapes, lays down a dense bed of tone. Shane Morris, whose recent forays into tribal, such as his excellent release, Equinox, have kept him high on my list of artists to watch, augments Park’s base with his own array of processed sounds, snarling didgeridoo and percussion. Much of the potency and earthy resonance of Epoch comes out of the artists’ decision to use only acoustic instruments in creating the drones, tones and pads at work here. The sources range from didg to vibraphone to trombone, all bent to the duo’s will and repurposed into four stunningly immersive tracks. This album is entirely about atmosphere. It’s not musical, it’s spatial. It’s the creation of sonic depth and sensation, of grinding out a pure and visceral response to sounds brought to bear en masse. It’s a pseudo-hypnotic trigger mechanism that sends our minds off into a richly imagined, thematically guided space. It is dense and humid and guttural and primitive and works its way into that eldest part of your brain and tries its best to wake it back up. And it is so very effective in what it sets out to do. Although every track here is rock solid and the disc overall is an amazing bit of darkly meditative soundcrafting, the centerpiece is the 21-minute “Devonia.” Words will absolutely fail to do service to this track. Morris’ didg curls and snarls and threatens even as it beckons you downward. The drones here seem to spin, vortex-like, to create an inexorable grasp. This is where your best bet is to simply give yourself over and listen to the duo build the sound around you, the density growing and waning over and over until you’re simply lost in the wonderful murk of sound. Epoch is a lights-out, headphones-on, make-time-for release. In terms of discs that strive solely for atmosphere, this is one of the best discs I’ve heard in years. And folks, it’s just the first of three to come out of this collaboration. The bar is set very high with Epoch; but I have no doubt that Mystified and Morris have only just begun to craft. An amazing album.
Available from Spotted Peccary.
--John Shanahan, 2012
"Life Is A Carnival" in Vital Weekly
Mystified returns to the same label, following 'Coming Days' (see Vital Weekly 811). Its bit unclear what we should think of when we hear 'carnival instruments', but maybe Thomas Park did some recordings in some carnival surrounding but he has most surely processed them around a lot to make his more familiar drone scapes. His previous albums were usually mixed affairs of drone like soundscapes, mild noise and rhythm bits. This new album is a bit different. The five pieces here sound alike but aren't the same. Soft gliding and sustaining sounds, all drone like, no rhythm and no mild noise. Rather pleasant mild drone music actually. Coherent, which is good, although the variety of his previous works was always nice too. Hard to say what is exactly used here, but the labels thinks a Hohner harmonica has been used, which might very well be the case - airy music. I think this is one of the best albums I heard from Park so far.
--F. de Waard, 2012
"Epoch" in Heathen Harvest
It’s an unusual set of circumstances that approaches when you say something knowing full well it’s probably an anomaly. With our last Mystified review, it had been mentioned that, when applied to Thomas’ usually prolific nature of releasing new music, it had been an abnormal amount of time between review submissions for him. However, practically no sooner than that review was finished just earlier on the 8th of this month, this new collaboration with Shane Morris arrived in my mailbox, this time on Lotuspike — the contemporary ambient label that is now owner by Spotted Peccary Records and has released albums from artists such as Ben Cox, Terra Ambient, Rudy Adrian, Jeff Greinke, and, more recently, Paul Ellis. The path from “Coming Days” to this new collaboration has been a fruitful, albeit it digital one from Thomas Park, with releases coming on Treetrunk Records (“Complex Silence 14?, “From the Archives”, “Thrones” collaboration with Seetyca), Genetic Trance (“Stress Test”), a remaster of “Krellmuse” on Unknown Landscapes, a remix of “Dying Star” on Petcord, and the sole physical album — the “Life is a Carnival” CD-R, again on Attenuation Circuit. There are, of course, others as well (see: Webbed Hand Records).
Shane Morris, on the other hand, is a relatively little-known artist from Arkansas whom seems to have exclusively released through the digital medium up until this point. Releases include collaborations with the likes of Blue Hell and Dan Miñoza, and also include solo releases on Earth Mantra, Buddhist on Fire, EdP, and Treetrunk Records. His collaboration with Kevin Haller, “Live at City Skies 2011?, was released on Ethereal Live which is Morris’ own live ambient imprint and has had a healthy start with releases from Symatic Star, Tange, Emerald Adrift, and EugeneKha. It should be noted that Morris has an intelligent mind, having studied both music and cultural anthropology at Missouri State University. He’s also a percussionist which often works it’s influence into his ambiance putting him on the tribal side of things. The array of instrumentation that he uses is as impressive as Park’s and, unlike most musicians whom take part in the ambient realm — he loves to perform to a live audience as is evident by his own digital label.
“Epoch” is the first in a trilogy of of albums about the prehistoric era and evolution in general. As Thomas Park described it, “it’s a nice kick in the rear to the anti-evolutionists.” The word “Epoch” then described this release perfectly both because of the time period in which the music is thematically based off of, the beginning of an evolutionary chain, and the beginning of this trilogy. The music on “Epoch” is also created to fit the atmosphere that the theme implies through a minimal, primitive sound. Cavernous drones drenched in ethereal qualities line the tracks to create images of humid rainforest and harsh mountainous terrain. Primal sounds are created through various buzzing and slow oscillations that herald images of giant insects in plentiful numbers. This is an aural landscape that is both full of life in a way that we have never been witness to as modern humans, and yet somehow distinctly raw. This sound is achieved through the usage of field recordings and other acoustic means for sound creation and capturing. No electronic sources were used for the creation of this work for reasons that should be obvious by now, though electronics were used to process the sounds created into the natural world that you will hear on “Epoch”.
It isn’t easy to put into words just how successful these two gentlemen were at creating this world and giving it a realistic organic sound. This is for all intents and purposes a droning effort — its a slow movement through this primitive world that subtly explores various elements of an era dominated by monstrous creatures. It is my belief, however, that as the beginning of the trilogy, this release symbolizes the beginnings of life in the evolutionary chain — a primordial ooze that has given birth to strange creations, thus you won’t hear any monolithic roaring, noisy drones but rather a view of life of a smaller scale, largely insect in origin if the sounds give any hint. Later works in the trilogy will need to include larger, more abrasive elements to keep the aural timeline realistic.
Written by: Sage
Label: Lotuspike (US) / LSM23 / Digi-CD
Ambient / Drone
--Sage Weatherford, May 2012
"Epoch" in Morpheus Music
--Shane Morris & Mystified - Epoch
Ambient drone and moodscape.
Epoch creates a shadowy realm of naturalistic zones flecked and clattering with percussive peculiarities. In conjuring up the mysteries of the remote past Morris and Mystified have steered clear of melodic forms and instead woven dense tapestries of evocative texture. The album uses no synthesisers or other electronic sound sources - although you would swear otherwise, rather field recordings and heavily processed acoustic instruments are twisted and shaped to purpose: trombone, didgeridoo, vibraphone, bass drums, bowed gong and scissors. Apart from the guttural growl of the didgeridoo it is hard to identify the sonic origins of most elements as heaving beds of tone mass and squirm. Bird-like shrieks and cries dance over the heavy canopy of sound, a didge barks, turbulent noise, the whirr of insectile motion, water movement. A serious tone, a subtle evolution, a dark and absorbing environment - somewhere to get lost.
ARTWORK Epoch is pleasingly packaged in a plastic free card wallet of two panels. The disc lurks within one half - and to my delight, the artwork includes a textured design on the inner surfaces. Imagery centres on timeless forest scenes of murky rock and moss, dark slender trunks of trees stabbing upward seeking pallid skies. The surfaces all have scuff damage laid upon the photographic base lending an air of age and individuality as if someone previously passed this way, fingering these pages or perhaps the package has been lost until now. Track titles on the rear include timings and lettering is neat and small. Within there is a paragraph explaining the music and the advice "Think: lots of brass, lots of bass. Giant reptiles in stereo."
Website information is here too.
Released via the Lotuspike subsidiary of Spotted Peccary Records, Epoch brings together US synthesist, percussionist, and ambient musician Shane Morris and atmospheric dronescaper Thomas Park AKA Mystified. The album holds four tracks of music designed to explore the theme of prehistoric time and evolution. Sleeve notes point out the Epoch is the first of a trilogy of releases to be presented under the title Inspired Evolution. The decision to build upon a solely acoustic foundation of trombone and didgeridoo drones and bass percussion effectively strips away the present and stirs the primitive. You can read more about the album and listen to samples at Spotted Peccary. Shane's website also holds a promotional video.
"Epoch" in Maeror 3's Blog
Translated from Russian with Google Translate
"Epoch" Shane Morris, he created with the assistance of Thomas Park, a giant's discography «Mystified», is the first part of the planned trilogy, which served as the inspiration for the evolution, the development of life forms on Earth from simple to complex, causing no little controversy and giving rich food for the imagination. The man with imagination is now offered an interesting (and, more importantly, safe, do not fear that a crushed butterfly events at the crossroads of change the fate of the world) trip to prehistoric times, in periods when dinosaurs ruled the planet.
The times more than the remote and by the standards of the present, primitive - maybe that's why the authors of the album and the music is filed in the "primitive", "raw" form. Morris has used in the process only acoustic instruments and sources of sound - no synthesizers, no software, only that you can touch and feel. You can touch it: a variety of metal percussion from a rare exotic to ordinary scissors, didgeridoo, drums, vibraphone, trombone, which explains the presence here of Thomas Park, thanks to his playing on this instrument was obtained by a deep, vibrating hum, which is the basis of these four atmospheric sketches of the hot and suffocating depths of ancient fern forests.
Your imagination (and any illustrated guide to these epochs) will help you to fully enjoy a wanderer between epochs. The slow, inexorable tightening a hopper holds up to the roar of the extreme boundaries of ancestral memory, and help them to cross, look at the time of the memory itself is not one who had formed. Surge of boat at each other, are woven into a strange musical sphere vibrations and resonances of metal surfaces and objects, the sonorous rattle which quickly disintegrates into a fine dust, and increase the hypnotic effect of music. A uterine growling didgeridoo not only adds a tribal elements, along with "retarded" and the rhythm of the rolling roar of gongs, but also help in some cases (especially in «Jurassic Dawn») see the green camouflage of ferns and other shade plants glimpse of the huge creature, wheezing, and growling. The authors do not focus on the use of "field recordings", but the murmur of the brook, and the chirping of birds, and the crunch of branches are in the right places and perfectly reinforce the sense of presence. The original idea was the embodiment of quality and natural - let's see now, where Shane Morris will move on, what will be the next era in his journey to the temporal distance, the human mind can not comprehend. So far, everything goes over well.
"Epoch" in Synths Sequences
"Epoch is an ambiophonic work weaved in the meanders of prehistory which pushes away the limits of the ambient term"
1 Cambrian Explosion 9:45
2 Devonia 22:40
3 Triassic Extinction 8:58
4 Jurassic Dawn 14:37
LOTUSPIKE: LSM23 (CD 54:00)
Of far off are thundering some tom-toms of which the furtive knocks perturb the tranquility of an ocean suspended on its lappings. Lappings which get lost in the cracklings emerging out of the depths of a halieutic fauna to blow into Epoch its first droning breaths. "Cambrian Explosion" launches Shane Morris and Mystified's prehistoric musical adventure with a thick cloud of static layers which accumulate and buzz in an atmosphere tetanised into guttural breaths. Here, no melody! Only some long buzzing lamentations which invade our ears in a powerful atmospheric sound pattern.
First musical act of a trilogy to come, Epoch is a musical painting to dark caustic breaths which depicts the evolution of the Earth from its Mesozoic era. As much daring as intriguing, this first opus of Shane Morris and Thomas Park is a purely contemplative work where we discover the genius of the American duet which uses only acoustic instruments to give more authenticity to this highly experimental musical project. Instruments depict as “organic”, such as brass trombones, didjeridoos, vibraphone, bass drums, scissors, and assorted percussions. A panoply of instruments as heterogeneous as unusual which embroiders a surprising sound texture similar to synths and where only the didj and drums seem familiar to us. It’s a creative work intended for a public fond of researches and sound experiments which finds its entire dimension with a good pair of earphones.
It’s also an album which follows an evolutionary curve of the prehistory and each title wants to be a reflection of this evolution. Thus "Devonia" brings the first melodic lights with the weak breaths of a choir hidden in a cave, wandering near a crackling fire. Cracklings which sometimes sound like lost footsteps and voices which sometimes resound as the breezes of a wind evaded by the curves of a cave flooded with droning sound arcs. The 2nd portion of "Devonia" is intensely submerged by static layers which growl and buzz in a caustic ambience. Breaths which little by little diminish for get lost in a sharply more cleared up atmosphere. More serene and less dark, "Triassic Extinction" is a long quiet river fed by more limpid musical layers from where are ringing some rustles lost in a floating mist. "Jurassic Dawn" loops the loop of this sonic experience with noises of insects which go hunting at twilight. It sounds like an incredible swarm of mosquitoes of which the hummings become entangled into sinuous reverberations which resound in the echo of their elongated breaths, weaving a black threatening universe. We hear tom-toms lose their strikings which go astray in this tempestuous torrent of static shadows. Shadows which float in the breezes of the didjeridoos and the howlings of an animal fauna forgotten in the stigmas which decorate the timeless walls of our Genesis.
Epoch is an ambiophonic work weaved in the meanders of prehistory. A purely atmospheric work which pushes away the limits of the ambient term with sound waves and shadows which espouse the magic of absent synths by a multitude of movements stigmatized in an imagination without borders. We cannot remain indifferent to the musical search of Shane Morris and Mystified. A duet which lays a surprising musical painting where the soundscapes of a Jurassic world are show by the magic of sounds. It’s maybe not for all, but one has to raise our hat in front of so much artistic creativity.
--Sylvain Lupari (May 27th, 2012)
"Coming Days" in Vital Weekly 811
From what I heard from Mystified, I quite enjoyed it. Music that could in any sort of direction, ambient, drones, field recordings and even a bit of noise. Mystified is the work of Thomas Park, existing since 2002. Here he creates seven pieces of drone music, using trombone, overtone flute and pan pipe and I assume all the subject of sampling and/or heavy processing, as its not always easy to recognize any of these sources in the music. Very occasionally we may recognize a little bit of blowing down pipes, but it feeds heavily through sound effects and creates a massive, dark and atmospheric sound, a full sound but clearly with some detail. Small melodies shimmer through, such as in the particularly moody 'The Shock Of Coming Days', complete with a hammering slow industrial rhythm, but then also majestically slow humming in 'Faux Rapture'. A fine album, one of the better for him, as far as I can judge that is of course.
--Franz de Waard
"Coming Days" in Bad Alchemy
(Translated from German by Google Translate)
Thomas Park is a man who is living for the drone. Since 2004, he flooded the Dröhnszene with his output as mystified. By 2009 he was therefore a Mystbox fit (to Svartgalgh Records) with 25 CD-Rs. As is typical Coming Days (ACR 1003, CD-R) for the sound of American power is, no idea. Droning on and cascading waves he blows with overtone and pan flute and trombone with bright or dark currents of air that vaguely choral voices, buzzing swarms of locusts or approval of the bomber squadrons approached blow. This is ambient, dark ambient, even in the classical sense, and brooding träuend because the trombone growls like nothing good. because mingle as in a dream vision Yes and Amen to the Last Judgement, which then with 'discordant dreaming' is aptly titled right. In a park and Munkler Menetekler to suspect, it seems to me, even after 'what is inevitable' and 'faux rapture' with dark Doomsday on the horizon, the tubes can move up, obvious. but who already investigated his visitations from myself?
--Rigobert Dittmann in Bad Alchemy # 71
Some Collected Reviews of Passing Through The Outer Gates (First Fallen Star, 2010)
"Selecting the music to be played at one´s memorial service is destined to be an exercise in sentimentality and compromise; it´s more about the survivors than you, really. But the afterlife, that´s a different story. Once you have ascended to heaven, entered the Halls of Valhalla or crossed the River Styx, you don´t have to consider any one else´s taste or sensibilities. Creating the sound in which to be bathed for all eternity is certainly an attractive if daunting, and slightly morbid, proposition.
Dark ambient label First Fallen Star asked Thomas Park (in his incarnation as Mystified) to imagine himself passing through gates toward his ultimate and eternal destination as the first volume in its ”Eulogy Series".
He begins appropriately with a death knell and the waning of the sound and the light. As services draw to a close, a funeral march resembling a reimagination of Chopin´s famed Piano Sonata No. 2 in B-flat minor, third movement, is struck up on what appear to be clarinets, further gloomified with a beguiling snatch of strings.
Although their is no dearth of electronics, it is Park´s deft, recurrent sampling of these strings (and other, subtle orchestral touches) which serves as the leitmotif carrying the album not only through the gates but into the realm of the momentous. Regardless of whether this is heaven or hell – incidental sounds are ambiguous enough to suggest either – it has a unique and personal feel. Park maintains a somber and cautious mood, which one imagines the soul surely would while familiarizing itself with a new plane of existence. He shuns extravagant gestures and conjures a true sense of wonder, apprehension and discovery.
The label awaits promises further such journeys. The big, black and handsome package resembles a coffin and if they do manage to attract enough submissions of this quality, it will make for a handsome collection indeed."
--Stephen Fruitman, Sonomu.net
Translated From Dutch by Google Translate
"We start this review with a brief explanation of the concept of the Eulogy Series. A eulogy is a hymn, usually - and in this context - held for a deceased person. Well, for his series asks the U.S. First Eulogy Fallen Star label to various musicians to write a soundtrack to their own death, transition and entry into her afterlife in accordance with their own vision. An original concept for which, yet - admittedly - typically 'gothic'. The first to challenge was Mystified, the alias of Thomas Park in Saint Louis, Missouri. After a seemingly endless series of mp3's and cdr's, this is the first real album by this artist.
It is clear that Thomas Park's death as something terrible, but as an entry into a transcendental state, and this is reflected fully in the here presented music: very moody, slightly experimental and with a fair amount of neoclassical injected dark ambient, previously soothing sounds - and completely resigned - than frightening or morbid. Thomas apparently believes Park (or is it just an artistic representation?) That the soul after death passes a number of gates, before his final resting place to come. "Passing Through The Outer Gates' contains 8 tracks (50 minutes) that form a story. "Eulogy For Thomas Park aptly called the first track and other tracks are called respectively:" Dark Transition, "" Lost My Body "," Up Down Or Out "," Approaching Something "," Soul In Motion "," The Final Gate "and - finally -" The Soul's Resting Place.
My absolute favorite is the second track, the wonderful and oh so relaxing "Dark Transition" that dark ambient atmosphere that combines neoclassical tragic but beautiful melodies and a sound that resembles the cry of a night bird. Just for this brilliant song, this album worth buying though! But the other tracks are worth the fat, so I also love the third track "Lost My Body", which once again experimental style is combined with dark ambient neoclassical samples and now with a kind of ritual, ethnic - say shamanic - percussion. Beautiful!
"Passing Through The Outer Gates" is an album that each listen reveals more of its subtle beauty! It is presented in an A5 digipack with embossed in silver letters and a coffin-shaped recess that a piece of artwork behind it - the real album cover - reveals. As is the case with the following parts of the Eulogy Series is the edition limited to 500 copies!"
Translated From Italian by Google Translate
--Henk Vereecken, Darkentries.be
"U.S. Missouri Thomas Park, aka Mystified, experiments with new horizons of dark-ambient concept through a series of publications that sound is called "Eulogy Series" in the first act is given to this release of eight tracks titled "Passing .. ., "which breaks record scientifically the concept of deepening death meanings and questions by interacting with the hidden recesses of the human mind and entering in the parallel world beyond the afterlife. The artist, backlit previous collaborations with Robin Storey (Rapoon) and Nigel Ayers (Nocturnal Emissions), then processes this set of darkened sound-edited by the First Fallen Star, suggesting the listener a profound meditation on the unresolved issue over the existence earth, every level is intended for human difference, that unmentionable relentless incumbent on everyone that whether natural or spiritual, dissolutrice and ruthless, so cold and yet fascinating in its inscrutability. The compositions of sonic Mystified are structured through dark electronic processing suspended between classicism and avant-garde, all guided by instrumental soundtrack based on generating streams of disembodied sound virtuous predominance of alternate solutions orchestras: he is a prime example of the self-congratulatory "Eulogy For Thomas Park "atmospheric, mesmerizing in its context obscure ambient-brushed by solemn pseudo-symphonic touches. A smoky curtain produced by the slow expansion of the laptop wraps "Dark Transition" which describes a striking Biosphere programmed percussion and ghostly key contributions. "Lost My Body" believe that they are building an industry obsessed by the rhythmic tone and dilated segments unfinished symphony, while "Up Down Or Out" slowly spreading sequences of mists and iced-noise keyboard publications. "Approaching Something" gives deep scans dall'esoscheletro percussive mid-tempo electro-symphonic, in addition to doses of the slow key drama, details outnumbered by the fascinating "Soul In Motion" and its programming which is of a lively rhythmic insert so far drowsy, welded to a shadowy keyboard apparatus, the present itself in the beautiful "The Final Gate" which reveals in a few notes, and unexpectedly, a poignant, melancholy aftertaste dipped in the most ethereal romance. "The Soul's Resting Place", short final track, adds fuzzy pads, laptops and disruption of distant resonances obscured at the conclusion of a release that embeds itself in the very complex and ever-expanding mosaic dark-ambient. Mystified, if anything, will get more visibility, it is undeniably captured through valor with results like this.
-|-|-» Work that is proposed as a mediator between the spiritual tangibility of body size and shape of post-mortem existence. Unlike other projects, treating the same subject, Mystified spin off part of the sound aura full of oppression and appalling forms of sound, basic elements for drawing on concepts such extreme tracks and replace them with a touch of classicism that softens, but does not radically, much of the title track. The result borders on excellent."
“How will it all end?” That’s the big question. A new project, the “Eulogy Series,” asks musicians to compose music to score their own passing to the great beyond. The morbid and compelling idea flies from the (pearly) gates with experimental/drone solo act Mystified. His soundtrack for croaking ranges from sepulchral, stately death march to darkly symphonic phantasia to, believe it or not, a smidgeon of danceable funk. It’s funereal, sure, but it manages to dip into a sort of grim comedy. “Approaching Something” is a standout track – an ominous, driving, cinematic bit reminiscent of something from Peter Gabriel’s stellar Last Temptation of Christ soundtrack.
--Byron Kerman, Playback Saint Louis Magazine
"'Outer gates' is excellent, with very strong compositions. The whole is very cohesive, sounds like a soundtrack to some (dark) new age sci-fi movie."
"Thanks for sending that CD out, I listened to it at work today. Pretty spooky stuff. I'll bet you're quite proud of it! It reminds me a little of Jeff Grienke + Rapoon."
"Received the CD the other day and loved it! Congratulations Thomas on a wonderful album and some excellent design work on the CD's packaging."
"How are you? I received Passing the Outer Gates today and just finished listening to it. Wow! Probably your best album! It sounded like an epic movie soundtack. I know you said your college degree is in English, but you must know a lot about music. The orchestral instruments sounded like the real deal. You must have really great equipment to replicate that sound. Your drum beats are very sophisticated. Did you ever play the drums? Definitely a lot of depth to the music. I will have to listen to it many more times to fully digest it. The packaging was really spectacular as well. I hope you can do another release like that in the future. thanks for letting me know you got your crowning achievement in stock. I sure enjoyed listening to it."
"'Outer Gates' is a metaphysical journey using elements of sound collage. Mystified's approach transforms over the years. It is fitting that 'Outer Gates' is concerned with life after death and transformation. Slowly oscillating, granular drones have given way to chunks of music that seem to float by. It is a really fun experience to have it playing. Mystfied manages to remove primitive robotics and focus on pure music.
--Martin Hekker, author of Manmachine web comic, http://www.fightevilwithevil.com/
"This patient have since long resided in the West Wing of the Asylum. He is well known for his vivid and vast imagination. The stories he tells tends to override your intellect and summon you into his personal world. This session he told me the tale of his own death, passage and beyond. The story was delivered, per usual, in the form of soundscapes."
"The session begun with him showing me his latest work in crafts class. Or rather, the work of David Demaret. The covering which holds this, his dark story of his death and afterlife. A beautiful cover, with a coffin hole cut into it, giving a brief glimpse of a graveyard and a portal to the beyond. Already here I must admit I am awestruck. Even though his derangement, the message he tells is clear."
"The text written inside the cover tells us that this is a challenge. The challenge of describing his own death and what comes after. The story about his souls last journey. He describes to us his belief that the soul travels though different passages and portals, further and further from the world as we know it, into a peaceful rest."
"He opens with the Eulogy for Thomas Park. A retelling of his life with soft droning sounds and echos from a distant past with rising and falling drums and stabs of brighter and harsher strings. Closing my eyes, I visualize a church, and those whom used to be Thomas friends and family gathered, mourning his passing. A son, a daughter, a sibling, someone telling us how much he was loved. Even though there is much sadness, there is still feelings of joy of a man well remembered. Until it all fades away and the first gate stands open before the traveler. The journey starts, entering the first passage, the first gate though which the afterlife begins."
"The journey we have embarked on takes us though many gates, letting us see different dreamscapes. All of them are frightening to some extent, but still there is a calmness. The further away we get, the more otherworldly the dreams become. I can at this stage admit to falling into the patient's madness. I feel as if I have lost myself, however I do not feel scared. As we near the outer gates we pick up speed, traveling further and further, faster and faster. Until we reach the final gate, where we stand still for a moment, filled with awe and the knowledge that there is no turning back. Beholding the gate is as if standing in front of a huge cathedral, or a vast mountain landscape."
"As we go though the gate, all sense of what is real is gone, and we dissolve. Our soul is torn apart, like a drop of blood into a turbulent container of water. We become one with everything, our life's energy is returned from where it once came. We have completed a full circle."
--Dr. Mattias Storm, Zelest's Asylum, http://zelest.is-a-geek.net/review001.php
"As I start my journey with Mystified this is part of FFS (Eulogy Series) and this is stated from the label as 'The Eulogy Series challenges musicians to create the soundtrack to nothing less than their own death, transition, and afterlife, as they see it in their own mind and in accordance with their personal beliefs - a task found by many to be emotionally monumental and intensely difficult!' Start of this is Dark Ambient with some orchestral and electronic elements. Mystified reminds me of many bands that have come through the Hypnos and Dark Vinyl rosters where they mix the Dark with the very Electro Industrial elements and lush strings and ethno sounds. If your a fan of Robert Rich, Steve Roach, Lustmord , Vidna Obmana. Passing though the outer gates sounds like a theatre piece come to life in a very epic ballet . And funny I use Hypnos as a reference as Mystified as worked with them... The music is as thought provoking as hypnotic in its over all approach. First Fallen Star Eulogy series is limited to 500 copies so don't miss out on this . This is just very good release all around..."
--The Experimental Edition of Reviews 8/28/2010 Absolute Zero Media
Ever wondered what your own death would look like? You probably have.
Ever wondered what would happen after your death? You probably have.
Ever wondered what sound ther are after you have ceased to excist? Well maybe.
Ever had the question to put that on cd? I think not.
What was that I found in the mailbox? I expected some cd's to arrive, but never expected this. I recognized the sender and the packaging. It was the latest cd of Mystified. He is a friend of mine since I made some video clips for him and had some nice conversations via e-mail. But can you expect to get a cd for free from a friend? This just makes a great example of what a nice guy Thomas is.
Now for the review. Thomas was asked to describe what would happen after his own death and present this sonically. This resulted in the first cd in the Eulogy series on First Fallen Star.
The cd is packed in an A5 digipak with a coffin cut out in the front. Behind that there is a glance at the inside which is a painting by David Demaret entitled 'Burning Souls'. There is poem by H.P. Lovecraft featured underneath the cd. At the right side there is an explanation by Thomas of the concept and his interpretation of the concept.
Eulogy for Thomas Park
Just being dead and everybody is mourning. You're body and mind are passing through the first gate. This really is a film like introduction. Hearing gates slam, nice stabs and pads, slow moving background drones and creating a nice atmosphere for the rest of the album.
Walking the lonely path towards the following gate. Still in your own body. This track sounds like a stroll on the clouds every step closing in on the next gate. Nice combination between slow moving drones and minimal beats and really nice strings.
Lost My Body
Finally, the real transition. Eerie beginning which feels like you're struggling to get out of your body. Then there are African drums coming into play that give a little rhythm to the piece. When the Angellike choir sets in you're free to go to the next gate.
Up Down or Out
Where are we now? This track start with nice droning and slow strings. It leaves you in a place where you cannot tell where you are. Even some birds come flying by in this track.
From one gate to another. Is something approaching us, or are we approaching something? Low drones and nice beats make you feel like something is coming closer. Especially when there is a small orchestral sample close in on the listener. Then the techno like beats set in and you are beginning to nod your head. The track is filling in with more and more layers giving a it a fuller sound as the tracks floats by.
Soul in Motion
Your souls likes to dance! Dark orchestral and string samples make this track another hunting track. When the rhythm part sets in you can imaging dancing with other souls. This is probably the best ambient techno track ever.
The Final Gate
The seventh and last gate has been reached. The soul is in its new home. Slow moving drones give the feeling of floating through a sea of energy. The minimal beats give the feeling of not being able to touch it. The fadeout at the end makes you realize you're already a part of it.
The Soul's Resting Place
Pure energy. What else do you want? One long flowing drone with a lot of energy in it.
This is a great concept of First Fallen Star. Describing your own death is probably a hard job for most of us, but Thomas really has made it into a piece of art. He has used all of his experience from all his previous releases and put them all together to create maybe his Opus Magnum. Because after all, what is left after death? I surely hope this isn't the truth and he will continue to make some excellent music! This album is undoubted at its best when listened to with headphones.
Can't wait for the next release in the series!
--Johan Nederpel, 2010: http://caelicuspugna.site11.com/?page_id=54
In appealing A5 digipak "Passing Through The Outer Gates appears from Mystified. That project has already been honored me once some time ago, then with the publication of "D-Program".
Thomas Park was not idle since then. . . to make the present work the prelude to the so-called "Eulogy Series". Behind that hides the issue, add sound to a soundtrack that shows the passage from death into the hereafter from its own point of view of each musician. Sounds damn interesting.
After a short warm-up time is clear, the musician has used the time and makes us really here But in fact a work which I know the "D-Program" is still far in the shade.
The Dark Ambient offered here has an experimental list and sometimes even carries ritual traits.
Generally leaves the world here, presented a rather mysterious impression, and is also peppered with a variety of interesting moments and harmonious aspects. As mentioned above, the result would go through smoothly even as the soundtrack.
From time to run through subtle, floating keyboard sounds of the room, which characterize the respective performances accordingly. Similarly, it has since appeared that here also a certain (albeit lower) Classical influence comes into play, how to determine, for example by means of "Up Down Or Out" can be.
Thomas Park at the end has managed to bring a piece of music appealing to the listener. Moreover, these expanded his style and, unlike other publications, it is also widely variable to the point.
"Passing Through The Outer Gates" can consume surprisingly pleasant, but is an album of somber and atmospheric aspects seen for Friends of the ritual ambient sounds absolutely worth a recommendation.
--NecroQeb, 2010: http://www.necroweb.de/magazin/neues-album/mystified-passing-through-the-outer-gates-eulogy-series-volume-1
(Translated from German by Google Translate)
Mystified - Passing Through the Outer Gates: Eulogy Series volume I (First Fallen Star 2010)
Yet another essential release from newest collaborator, First Fallen Star, and a unique perspective from the musical perspective of death, Thomas Park (Mystified) sets out with this release to capture the experience of death from his angle and does so brilliantly.
If you imagine the experience of death as an ethereal transcendence, nothing violent or demonic, depressing or pessimistic, then you’d be in perfect agreement with Mystified’s post mortem atmospheres. Somewhat neo-classical and space ambient, Mystified paints images of eternal drifting and cosmos on top of a fairly minimal and spacious background. Each track sort of echoes and ricochets through a massive tunnel of space-time as would the soul as it journeys away from the mortal body into the absolute oblivion. If anything can convincingly illustrate the sort of Nirvana to be found beyond Earthly and mortal constraints it’s Mystified with Passing Through the Outer Gates. These are some seriously moving compositions!!!!
The album packaging is equally intricate as it’s presented in an A5 digipak with silver foil embossed lettering and a specially die-cut cover with a coffin shaped hole that reveals a small fraction of the awesome album artwork that lies underneath. There’s some serious care taken in each release in terms of artwork, packaging, and of course…the sounds.
--Defecation On The Divine webzine, 2010: http://defecationonthedivineradio.blogspot.com/2010/09/mystified-passing-through-outer-gates.html
The man behind Mystified is Thomas Park. He was First Fallen Star Chris asked for his death and the events surrounding his death and a musical soul of commitment. This inspired Thomas to launch The Eulogy Series, which this Outer Passing Through the Gates first part. Mystified is a musical project of Thomas Park, which normally moves freely between the various electronic genres like drone, ambient, noise, etcetera. Eulogy For The Series he wanted more on the dark ambient side. First Fallen Star then wrapped it in an appropriate and beautiful A5 package.
On Passing Through the Outer Gates takes you one hour of free electronic dark ambient with some influences from here and other similar genres. A song like Something, Soul in Motion Approaching know by using triphop / jungle-like influences more tension build while electro influences here and there to be found. And although the topic may seem rather dark, musically there is enough variety in the music and atmosphere not to mention standard dark ambient with just a grave mood.
A pretty remarkable record, this first part of The Eulogy Series. It is a drawing such as a film which would have eliminated one part where you're disappointed that the end is open, and you long for the other two to just that end part to do and see (or in this case, hear).
--Zwaremetalen webzine, 2010. Translated from Dutch by Google Translate: http://www.zwaremetalen.com/recensie/16596/Mystified-Passing-Through-the-Outer-Gates-Eulogy-Series-1.html
when talking about creativity and eclectic nature we must inmmeditely must carve deeply in the shape of Thomas Park,a musician with has been creating lots of interesting releases through the years,and now is here presenting us ,a part of his creativity though Eulogy Series,Vol I,founding so very attractive elemnts and suggestive pieces of music which reveals us different aspects of his own perspectives and visions.revealing the spiritual trascendence of his own visions reffering death and its entrance to another levels of existence,the passing of soul through different gates.The album opens with "Eulogy For Thomas Park" and the revelation began,created through classical atmospheres full of eclectic sounds and sutil passages generating a very impressive collage of different musical vortex.Then,comes "Dark Transition",an obscure piece full of neo classical atmospheres and percussive sounds increasing the whole aspect of the track with a kind of atmospehre rich and dynamic!! "Lost My Body",show us another surreal piece of ambient passages,this time bathed by some experimental passages and percussive sounds which gives such magickal ritual touch to the whole track in general. Through "Up Down Or Out",things here are going more dense,floating the whole composition in minimal dark ambient passages but stil dressed with such classical tunes surrounding everything.Really,a very interesting piece full of dynamism and well performed is what you shall find in the whole album."Approaching something" is one of such ambient experiemental pieces which keep your senses alive all the time due how its growing within the pass of minutes,so dark,moody,and dynamic,one of the best tracks here. "Soul In Motion",emerges with its infiltrating atmopsheres and very impressive work of experimental percussive soundsmutating all the time,to create vast soundscapes full of diverse characters as voice effects and more yet to be discover.other two tracks which complements the whole release are "The Final Gate" and "The Soul's Resting Place" both of them complementing perfectly each other to give you birth to another dimension perceived through the gates.A very recommneded release due the trascendence all the whole album has from start to finish.The album is presented in an A5 digipack with silver foil embossed lettering and a specially die-cut cover whose coffin-shaped hole reveals only a hnt of the true album cover artwork underneath! Featuring David Demaret's "burning Souls" painting.limited to 500 copies only!!!
--Paranorma webzine, 2010: http://panoramajournal.blogspot.com/2010/10/reviews-73secret-druid.html
Mystified is the musical project of Thomas Park, an actively recording but unknown (at least for me) act. The eulogy series is the first volume of a series of installements based around the idea of sonically describing the death and the events around what is known as the passing. The result, in the Mistified intents, is non to make another drone record but to move toward a sort of "Dark New Age". The good news is that is a fulfilled result: beginning with "Eulogy for Thomas Park" this is not the classic noise records but has a sense of movements that express a true sense of peace and meditation. "Dark Transition" lives by the battle from loops, drones and orchestral samples. "Lost My Body" is a beat driven track that drive to "Up down and Out", an ambient-drone track that is the the soundtrack of the cover image of series of funeral torch. After his ethereal intro "Approaching Something" starts with beats conducting to "Soul in Motion", an ambient track made out of violins samples and a sorts of dance beats. "The Final Gate" is a meditative ambient track of a really relaxing beauty and sorrow. "The Soul's Resting Place" is a final drone closing the album.
The variety and compositional strength of this album made this record a recommended release for all drone fans.
--Chain DLK webzine reviewer Adern X: http://www.chaindlk.com/reviews/?id=6093
Mystified is the nom de guerre of Thomas Park, who manages to put out more than a dozen releases every year. It makes you wonder whether the level quality of each of those can possibly be adequate, but in the case of Passing Through the Outer Gates, there is no cause for concern, as this is a subtle ambient album that combines spiritual concept matter with crafty composition.
This CD is volume one in the Eulogy Series by First Fallen Star Records, a conceptual line in which artists are encouraged to musically reflect on their own death. In Park’s case, the result is an expression of the idea of the soul posthumously passing through a series of gates, before reaching the afterlife. This belief, which Park for himself terms “Dark New Age”, has its parallels in Gnosticism and related religious currents.
The eight tracks here represent these stages of the journey of the soul. At first, in the beginning tracks, orchestral sounds dominate, brief sketches of melody constituting minimal soundscapes. Subdued percussion rhythms are already present here, but only in later tracks do these really come to the fore, as we can hear in “Lost My Body”, “Approaching Something”, and “Soul in Motion”. Particularly the latter two have strong, driving rhythms. One imagines the soul gently gliding and searching during the first stages, picking up speed gradually on its way toward “The Final Gate”. This one is taken calmly once more, consisting mostly of snippets of melody falling into the right places, like magic words to open the gate. “The Soul’s Resting Place” seems merely a short afterthought, as if it was the journey that really mattered after all.
A wonderful journey it was, both calming and engaging. This isn’t an album that exactly commands attention, and it is in some ways easy to dismiss. However, it certainly does reward attention, revealing a subtlety of composition that is a joy to listen to during quiet moments. A successful first instalment for this series, in other words, and one packaged in a very fine A5 digipak, at that. The front cover is black with silver lettering, with a coffin-shaped cut-out in the centre, revealing part of the rich artwork behind. Next up in the series is Svartsinn, so there’s more to look forward to.
Reviewed by O.S., Evening Of Light Webzine
Finally First Fallen Star has some new releases out! In my time at Gothtronic, I reviewed their first four releases, and I was especially fond of the albums by Aspectee and Innfallen. First Fallen Star's fifth release is also the first in their Eulogy Series, which I've been anticipating for a while. The idea for the Eulogy Series is that the artists write their own eulogy in the form of musical composition. Also, each first track of an album has to be called 'Eulogy for [real name]'. Music self-written for your own death should be an intense and daunting task, but also one of spiritual growth. The first in the series is for Thomas Park's experimental ambient project Mystified. Mystified has music released since 2004, and has a really extensive discography, which seems as if Thomas has a new release out every month at least. Lots of his work is freely available through net-labels and he has quite some interesting releases that are well worth checking out. After all these releases it's hard to imagine that
this is actually his first official album on CD. But enough of the foreplay, let's go to the album itself.
The first thing noticeable about Passing Through The Outer Gates is the very nicely designed packaging in A5 format with a 3 panel fold-out. The front is black with a coffin-shaped carve-out, which lets you show a glimpse of the painting behind it. When you fold the package out, you can see the full painting, which is called Burning Souls by David Demaret. The album begins with 'Eulogy for Thomas Park' and is a quiet song with neo-classical elements. A very good sound and an excellent introduction to the album. The sound of Park's last remains at the funeral, before entering the afterlife. 'Dark Transition' is a well-named title, as we are entering the transitional phase of the body to the spiritual. The music had some excellent rhythmic elements and melodic parts. Also pay attention to all the subtle sounds in the background, as if the dead are ready to embrace a new spirit. 'Lost My Body' is full of inverted sounds and some orchestral elements and has a nice rhythmic foundation. 'Up Down or Out' is a very
deep drone track, but aided with some very dark synths and neo-classical elements. It is a very dualistic song, it has an overall very dark sound, but the neo-classical elements remind us of some lighter fantasy world. By overcoming the darkness, we shall see the light. 'Approaching Something' is a very mystical song, which indeed feels like something unknown is about to happen. Something is heading towards us to guide us further into the mystical afterlife. 'Soul in Motion' starts with very windy sounds and drones, but suddenly changes into a very rhythmic cinematic track. A very interesting track with good use of added sound-design. 'The Final Gate' should bring us to a kind of conclusion. The overall feeling is something of mystic euphoria, with a dark undercurrent. With 'The Soul's Resting Place' we finally arrive at our final destination. A very dark drone track guides us to the end.
This may be the most personal Mystified release to date. Which will be for most artists working on the Eulogy Series; writing the music to your own death should of course be a very deep and personal thing. Another element that is very interesting is the sound of this release, which is unlike anything else Mystified has done. Park really pushed himself to come up with new sounds and ambiences, and isn't afraid to experiment. Also, the album is full of intricate subtleties which really give the album its full immersion. The transcendental nature of the concept and album really comes off. While the music itself may not be extremely groundbreaking in itself, it is a striking new sound for Mystified, and a release that gets better every time you listen to it. Also because of the personal nature of the concept behind it, things get a more emotional punch. Passing Through The Outer Gates may have a dark concept behind it, it certainly doesn't sound pitch-black, and is far removed from the sounds of black ambient.
While it certainly has a dark undercurrent, this release often invokes a sense of euphoria and melancholia. My anticipation for this new series on First Fallen Star was very high, but this first release totally justified it. Also, lots of credit to First Fallen Star to make the most out of this release, with beautiful packaging and great mastering done by Cyclic Law owner Frederic Arbour. A release every self-respecting lover of (cinematic) ambient and neo-classical music should own! So hurry up, as with all their releases, it is limited to 500 copies. With this excellent release out, I will be highly anticipating the next release in the Eulogy Series!
--Fabien, Surreal Immersion Webzine
Sethmol's Review Blog-- Overtone Drones
Mystified’s prolific catalog has featured a variety of genres. All of them have had his own unique twist that pushes the boundaries of each genre. Lately he has taken to evolving the genre of Drone. His most recent series, Bone Drones, were comprised entirely from trombone sounds. Overtone Drones is a continuation of such single instrument experimentation, this time with a wooden overtone flute. A flute naturally creates wavering drones but when long notes are held and layered on top of each other, they create a harrowing beauty that few instruments can match.
The drones your ears discover in this release take you to a chilling atmosphere, overwhelmed with frigid shadows and stoic waters. The ambiance of such a location stirs a very miniscule amount of fear. The sensation makes your hair stand on end with each rippling sound wave. Your whole psyche begins to sway back and forth with the synchronized wind. Submersion into such primal emotions does not happen as the flute acts like a guide through this strange uncharted land. The fear and alarm resides in the back of your mind as an unfamiliar but very soothing tranquility wraps around you.
Like many Mystified releases, Overtone Drones makes you explore strange emotions in a controlled environment. Everything feels new and startling but very welcoming. Gates of unknown perception have been opened for us to explore safely without fear of being lost forever. By listening you are exposed to greater depths of the mind and soul and then you are sent back to reality to share the knowledge with the known world.
Acts Of Silence-- Bone Drones 1-3
Parklific: The Trombone Edition
It’s been over 8 months since I’ve written about any releases from Thomas Park aka Mystified aka Mister Vapor. Eight months. In dog years that comes out to 5 years, but in Thomas Park years, that’s 15 to 20. Park’s prolificness was actually discussed slightly in a Twitter conversation recently and as C. Reider wrote, “I don’t think Mystified has anything to worry about w/ prolific output, his stuff is consistently good to great.” Point and match. Seriously, does Park put out anything bad? He has an incredible ear and boat-loads of talent that even his “worst” stuff is far better than most people’s best. Here is just a sampling of some of the releases I’ve missed:
For Phillip K. Dick (Kalpamantra)
Concrete Mix (Eg0cide Productions)
Disintegration Ranch (Treetrunk Records) by Mystified & i AM esper
4:33 (4’33? music)
Return Of Plunderman (Webbed Hand Records)
Remembering The Engine (Self-released)
Industrial Dervish Drone (DomaData)
Warped Essence 2 (Treetrunk Records)
But now it’s time for me to get on the purpose of this post, Park’s The Bone Drone Trilogy which is made up Bone Drones, Bone Drones 2 and, oddly enough, Bone Drones 3. all of which were released this year on Webbed Hand Records. Sometime this late winter or early spring, Park came across a trombone and from there the experimentation started. When I read his tweet about obtaining a trombone, I had no freaking clue what the end result would be of Park’s trombone travels, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t expect something as good as this. The Bone Drone Trilogy is filled with wonderful drones and the trombone sections are all so skillfully manipulated that one would not know their source if Park hadn’t been so forthcoming. Make sure you look at his discography as Park has released several other albums that have incorporated trombone drones as well. Dave Seidel aka mysterybear has recently bought a shop-vac which may or may not become a musical source for him. I wonder, what new musical source Thomas Park will come up with later in the year? What ever he decides, I am looking forward to it.
Thomas, it would be really great if you packaged all three of the albums up as one.
July 8, 2011 by David Nemeth
Agniworld Blog-- Bone Drones 3
Thomas Jackson Park, aka Mystified, goes on pioneering the virgin depths of ambient experimental music, setting a nice example by his fertility and being devoted; and today we shall discuss his new album, released on Webbed Hand Records, which is called “Bone Drones 3?. This four-track album is represented by thoughtfully and fancifully processed sounds, initially generated on trombone. Even though the sound was processed, it preserved its naturalness and the warmth of life, breathed by the artist himself in its direct and figurative sense, because aerophones are silent without human exhalations. The first track, “Bone Drone 11? turns out to be the airy and pleasant cushion of sound, which firstly seemed to me the work of an orchestra, as well as the other tracks. However, getting some information from the official release page I learnt, that all these enveloping and monumental substances are the result of Mystified’s keenness of wit, who has the sharp feeling of space, time, music and mood; he knows how to turn the sonic fluction into the right way. So, let’s sink in the atmosphere of Mystified’s “Bone Drones 3?.
Sethmol's Review Blog-- Remembering The Engine
The ever prolific Mystified, AKA Thomas Park, has released what he is calling an “audio eulogy for American oil.” This is exactly what he has accomplished. By composing three tracks of droned-out industrial sounds, he has painted a portrait of a mechanical post-apocalyptic funeral. Rows and rows of disembodied automobiles lay before a solemn memorial, stained in oil leaking from the pores of the mourning mechanisms. A ghosted figure of the officiating priest hovers above this scene which takes place after the annihilation of human existence.
Park has created a harrowing image dripping with the bleak truth. His union of industrial noises and drone techniques form a extraordinary soundscape, laced with twinges of dark ambient moods. This music could be the soundtrack to the scene of a car crash or a bombed out war zone. The harsh truth is that this is what will play when there is no one left on Earth to make music.
Standout track: Dying Gasps of Oil
Rating: 4.5 stars
Vuzh Music Blog-- A Pale But Lasting Hope
The release is listed as one of the Top 20 netreleases from the year 2010. Here is what C. Reider writes:
Mystified puts out a lot of good stuff, and then he puts out some f$%*ing great stuff. This release falls into the latter category. Rattling percussion elements and zigzagging synthetics form imaginary sonic structures. Loops that fall out of sync. Among my top favorite things I’ve ever heard from this artist.
Peter Van Cooten's Ambient Blog-- A Pale But Lasting Hope
Mystified is Thomas Park, a classically trained musician originally playing trombone and piano. From 2002 he started releasing electronic ambient music after working together with Robin Storey (Rapoon) and Nigel Ayers (Nocturnal Emissions).
His discography is quite impressive (nine separate pages on Discogs !), and although his music is mostly categorized as atmospheric ambient/drone music, you'll also find more industrial sounds and noise among these titles.
"A Pale But Lasting Hope" is one of Mystified's latest releases. A diverse 5-track album mastered by the renowned Robert Rich.
Rich' influence can be clearly heard in the clear sound quality and some of the sound details, such as the water drop accents in Over the Nest and the low drum sounds in Technicolor Time Sink.
Still, this is a Mystified album in every single minute.
It is a diverse collection of sounds. The album starts with strange, high-pitched gliding (string?) sounds, and ends with the 21 minute-long Technicolor Time Sink, which is noisey and calm at the same time.
Inbetween, there is the ambient calm of Over the Nest and two versions of the intense industrial rhythm patterns of Loop Redux.
Unlike some of the other long-form ambient drones Mysitified has released before, this is not exactly your average late-night relaxed drone listening experience. It's an active, roaring collection of fascinating soundscapes.
Hypnagogue-- Primal Mystification
The idea behind this 2009 release from Mystified is simple: foggy drones glide slowly past, shifting and rolling as they go, while light touches of percussion lend a faint tribal air. While I stand by that as an accurate description of how it’s done, I’ll also tell you that it sorely downplays what Mystified (aka Thomas Parks) is able to do and convey on this disc with that formula as his starting point. Primal Mystification is one of those ambient CDs that innocuously burrows its way into your subconscious mind, persistently but patiently setting up its space in your head–and by the time you realize it’s there you’re really quite okay with it. Parks’ drones are warm, grey things that move in otherworldly waves. He varies his approach, track to track, to keep each of the four long pieces here fresh. The opener, “Massive Turning,” takes its percussive sense from a gently played tabla, a sharp, solid and rhythmic snap over the wash. An echoing piano, played two simple notes at a time, wanders through. At first I found this an odd choice for a disc that’s so drone-based, but in Parks’ hands it quickly becomes an integral element in the piece’s definition. “Departing Certainty” is abstract, shadowy, beatless and a bit foreboding. It’s the dream you can’t wake up from. I’m intrigued by Parks’ choices of percussion in the last two tracks, “Not Knowing Where” and “Back to the Primal.” The first has a hand-drummed feel, a fire’s-edge rhythm with a strong tribal sense. I like the way Parks puts it up against a throbbing bass swell that, in its tone, is as unwavering as the drumming. (I’ll get back to this in a moment.) The percussive element in “Back to the Primal” is two-pronged: a flangey and metallic electronic beat squares off with more hand drumming. It is the sound of the computer-age tribe calling back to its ancestors, perhaps–and getting a distinct answer in kind.
Parks drives home his musical intent in the form of repetitive motifs that change only slightly across time. Between the often-mellowing touch of the drones and the insistent metronomic pulse of the drumming, in any form, the listener doesn’t have much choice but to follow his or her brain as it slides and sluices down into Parks’ umbral constructs to touch the primal memory in all of us.
I enjoy this disc more with every listen, and the deeper I go, the more I like it. Primal Mystification is a Hypnagogue Highly Recommended CD.
Available from Hypnos.
Reviewed by Gird_09
As track one slowly unwinds I find myself with a facial expression of deep surprise and fascination. Judging from the cover I was expecting something else entirely. Not sure what, but certainly something utterly boring. Cos lets face it, the cover is everything but interesting. The intricately woven sounds of the first three tracks, remixed by PBKsound, form a dense tapestry reminiscent of a mix between experimental ambient music, electronic composers of the fifties, electro accoustics and field recordings of high voltage. The music is organic and vibrant without actually sounding like anything else. It's purely electronic, but feels natural. The music also manages to demand your attention constantly, but in a very non-intrusive manner. The music lands somewhere in the landscape between noise and ambient with nods to both ends of the scale.
Track four, Heartstrong (remixed by KR-ohm, is slightly more contained than the first three, and signals a shift in focus. It's more ominous, but not unsettling, and reels the listener back in after perhaps losing ones path on the lengthy track that preceded it. Mystic Crunch, remixed by The Implicit Order, continues in this fashion, and is probably the most moody track of the album. The Implicit Order have remixed a total of four tracks for the album and their various remixes are both varied and interesting, adding depth to the album. I find myself drifting off as the album slowly nears the end, but without losing interest. A good sign. The sounds are a good addendum to a world in which the electric hum of various appliances form a constant backdrop. The final track, Windhypnose, remixed by Kwalijk, slows down to near inertia and ends the album.
Evidently the people behind this obscure project have been turning out underground music for quite some time with an impressive list of releases to their name, and I'm bit surprised by the fact that I haven't discovered them earlier. The music is well composed and deserves more attention.
This music certainly isn't for everybody, and chances are it's perfect for driving your pets and/or significant other insane, but over here at Kaliglimmer we've established ourselves as great believers in the qualities of experimental electronics, and that is just what this is. And quite interesting as such.
The One True Dead Angel-- Light And Vapor
Thank Ra for the Black Drone website, or else I never would have known what any of the titles were on this five-track album -- my promo copy tragically does not list the titles, boo hoo. But that's okay, because the tracks are all instrumental and you don't need to know the titles to appreciate the spaced-out cosmic drone at work here. This is actually the work of Thomas Park (of Mystified), featuring five tracks (three short, two quite long) that began life as field recordings and were then processed into melancholy sheets of dark ambient drone. "Light and Vapor," at less than a minute, leads into "NV," and both are mysterious sounding but subdued works; they lead into "Metrodrone," however, a nearly nineteen-minute exploration of reverb-heavy, slo-mo space drone suitable for getting your smoke on. "Risk of Delay," a four-minute interlude of flanged rhythmic oddness, breaks up the eternal crippling drone a bit before settling into the 21-minute fogbound closer, "Urban Layers." There's nothing particularly tricky or groundbreaking going on here, just plenty of deep-space drone that will take you on a long and drifting journey through the comsic side of your psyche. Definitely worth checking out if you're down with the drone.
Disruptive Platypus-- Adventures Of Plunderman
To say that Mystified aka Thomas Park is prolific would be a gross understatement, to say that is work is always one of great beauty would not be. One of the reasons, I follow him on Twitter (@mystified131) is so that I am able to keep up with all of his work. For example, back in late June or early July, he scored a stack of LPs from a coworker and then he headed to his studio. What came out of his pillaging of the old records was Adventures of Plunderman on Webbed Hand Records. Plunderman is a mesmerizing down-tempo album that shows how loops, beats and samples can be artistically manipulated to create a truly incredible work. I would say if there was one Mystified work you download this year, this should be it, but it’s only August, who knows what he’ll be doing in the next five months.
--Disruptive Platypus Webzine, August 3, 2010: http://disruptiveplatypus.wordpress.com/2010/08/03/mystified-adventures-of-plunderman/
Disquiet.com-- Adventures Of Plunderman
Sampling puts an interesting spin on the old axiom about how if you’re going to steal, then steal from the best. As Mystified shows with his Adventures of Plunderman album, available for free download at mystified.bandcamp.com, much can be made with goofy retro pop. He describes the five-track collection as “a plunderphonic wonder uniting samples of vintage vinyl with the production techniques of contemporary electronica.” The idea of plunderphonics comes from John Oswald, an early copyleft-culture figure who used pre-digital cut’n'paste techniques to produce sonic collages from all manner of audio documents, high and low, pop and classical, musical and documentary. Where Oswald was chaotic, a kind of fast-forward button personified, Mystified’s approach is more populist — he adds beats to the original, space-age pop, bridging the time between the eras of exotica and electronica.
The overall results have much in common with the more pop end of downtempo music, the modern-day lounge music that is often more useful in the background than the foreground — but rest assured that Park, ever the experimenter, uses repetition (there’s something almost maniacal about the lack of development in some of his themes) and peculiar little sonic cues (flies in the bachelor-pad ointment) to distinguish the work. As such, Plunderman has a conceptual aura that brings to mind Lifestyle Marketing, the release by Thes One (of People Under the Stairs) that took as its source material the commercial music of jingle composer Herb Pilhofer.
This Plunderman track’s original home is at mystified.bandcamp.com. More on Mystified, aka Thomas Park, at mystifiedmusic.com.
By Marc Weidenbaum
--Disquiet.com, July 12, 2010: http://disquiet.com/2010/07/12/retro-proto-electronica-mp3/
Textura.org-- Primal Mystification
The fifty-minute Primal Mystification is the first release by Mystified (aka US ambient-electronic musician Thomas Park) to appear on Hypnos Secret Sounds. Park is no novice, as he's collaborated with artists such as Nunc Stans (One Thousand Dreams, Dataobscura), Robin Storey (Rapoon), and Nigel Ayers (Nocturnal Emissions). The four tracks on Primal Mystification are restrained in character and induce a state of calm in the listener—which isn't to suggest they're uneventful, as there's lots of activity and detail on display. Likening the mercurial drone sounds to the emergence of human beings from the ‘primordial ooze,' Park shapes minimal elements (some of it created from field recordings) into ten-minute-plus settings of placid design using ringing ambient washes, willowy synthetics, elemental percussive patterns, and simple melodic phrases voiced by piano. In “Massive Turning,” elegant piano playing drapes itself across long-form droning tones anchored by a gently swinging rhythm track made up of acoustic-sounding percussive elements (hand drums, bells). “Departing Certainty” exudes a ghostly, even tribal quality in its crystalline swirls and cavernous rumble, while both “Not Knowing Where,” its nocturnal whistling tones animated by a midtempo rhythm track, and “Back to the Primal,” its ethereal shimmer augmented by Eastern-sounding percussive pulsations, are energized by comparison.
--Textura.org, February 2010
Allan Zane-- Primal Mystification
“The unbelievably prolific Thomas Park returns to us once again with a rather lovely full-length offering (as Mystified) on Hypnos Secret Sounds--’Primal Mystification’. Mr. Park’s more free-form (or perhaps it is more appropriate to refer to it as “formless”? I refrain from using the genre terms “ambient“ or “drone” as they have been over-referenced for decades) work often touches on something powerfully inexplicable and nebulous--magickal. This particular release would be no exception.
The album starts out with a piece entitled ‘Massive Turning’. It’s a bit deceptive if one thinks they have the Mystified sound pegged--as one expects gassy, shimmering atmospheres. It delivers just that…only it is coupled with an organic percussion that is unheard to me in the work of Mystified! An instrument such a tabla would have been too obvious, so what sounds like bongo is appropriate and more enthralling. Layered along with these sounds are also piano chords. ‘Massive Turning’ seems to be literal--a massive turning POINT in the direction stylistically. And it works like a charm.
Next is ‘Departing Certainty’. And that it certainly is--a departure from the banalities of life into an almost hallucinatory, emotional transcendence. The piece feels like walking in someone else’s shoes of their past , blurred and fading melancholia.
‘Not Knowing Where’ is the apex for this gem of a disc. This is the most potent track of all--and the one I am the most familiar with (seeing that I produced the video for it). Every time I hear it I get the sense of being lost BLISSFULLY in the cosmos…but full of wonder. Music for lysergic inner-space travel.
Concluding this release is ‘Back to the Primal’. Despite an almost “electronic feel” at times, it is re-entry music for returning to the mundane tribe/masses perpetuated by consensus reality--the primal of the flesh prison we are born into. Or is it vice-versa? Either way, it is a trip beyond this world (and beyond genre traps) you wish would NEVER end! But until we leave this mortal coil and its restraints of the physical body, it is only possible to touch on these realms with the aide of such ART as that of Mystified…”
--Allan Zane, musician and video artist, January 5, 2010
Byron Kerman-- Primal Mystification
“Primal mystification alternately conjures thoughts of settling in for the sleep of machines in the sub-rumble of a boiler room; the aurora borealis toying with the audible spectrum; alien conquerors come to claim their stake – our echoing fear; finally cracking the door to the secret spirit realm; the day that machines gain sentience and blink up at their gobsmacked creators; and a group of motherless children beating out a post-apocalyptic drum circle in desperate hope.
Truly, a sonic headphone journey that removes one far from the physical. Perfect for the Hearts of Space radio program, too.”
--Byron Kerman, freelance writer, author, independent reviewer-- December 2009
C. Reider-- Pulse Ringer Pieces
I’ve just listened through Mystified’s new 12? vinyl release “Pulse Ringer Pieces”, and I’m really impressed with my friend Thomas Park’s inspiring and unique take on ambient music.
The music drifts along with undulating textures of sounds and tones, sometimes with jittery clattering machine rhythms, sometimes without… each song patiently presenting its set of buzzes, chimes, hisses and pings each one in its perfect place. Mystified really portrays a sense of place with these tracks, the sounds really get my imagination going.
I’m very envious and admiring of the way Thomas can put together strange noises and insistent rhythms and make the whole cohesive and ambient and beautiful.
The very promising new label Droehnhaus has put out this vinyl record, and I’ve got to hand it to them, they really picked a beautiful set of music, and they put it out with real style. The record was pressed on lovely transparent dark blue vinyl with an enigmatic blue-black cover art.
I very heartily recommend picking up a copy…
The world needs more strange, underground music on vinyl.
I know from having put out my own record just how much more special the music is on the format it deserves.
Droehnhaus carries the record for Europe, and if you’re in the U.S. you can get a copy direct from the band by emailing autocad13 (at ) hotmail (dot) com
--C. Reider, Jan 24, 2009
Doedskreet-- Pulse Ringer Pieces
Thomas strikes furiously with this great slab of vinyl on the German label Droehnhaus. All you Mystified fans will understand that 'furiously' is kind of a euphemism. What I mean is: this record is very very good indeed!
It starts of with a beautiful haunting ambient piece: Phantom Ringer. Listening to it whilst looking at the blurry blue sleeve or the spinning clear blue vinyl transports you into some kind of underwater dungeon. A discomforting yet pleasant feeling. Floaty Ghost continues the mood, although there seems to be an external threat looming. Ominous. Pulse Beyond concludes the first side and this is where some muffled beats are introduced. Quite reminiscent of the first Selected Ambient Works by Aphex Twin.
Dark, heaving sounds continue on Getting Out, the B side opening track. The following Cool Vapor is the must uplifting song on the record. Thomas would have had no problem in submitting this track to the Artificial Intelligence series! The release is closed off fittingly with Round Shimmer, taking you back to the surface, out of the blue-hued underwater world.
In conclusion, this release will please both long-time Mystified fans and new arrivals to Thomas' ambient world. Ace!
-Doedskreet, Jan 24, 2009
Postrock.de Review of Pulse Ringer Pieces
Mystified alias Thomas Park in Saint Louis takes on his album "Pulse Ringer Pieces" the listener on a sub-sea voyage. It feels like a voyage in a submarine, deep sounds set the foundation in the background and over again not clearly defined higher notes sound as if you played with the interior of the submarine. Fittingly, the cover plate of deep blue, and supports the hearing impressions and visually.
(Translated by Google Translate)
Creative Eclipse webzine-- Mystified "Pulse Ringer Pieces" LP (Droehnhaus)
(Translated from German by Google) This simple, attractively presented as LP brings us vibrant ambience and drones in 6 files. What initially might seem unusual, the almost static beats, with which the pieces are supportable. Mystified aka Thomas Park from another side. The complete presentation held in blue, without any graphic or lettering on the cover, incidentally, and the blue vinyl immediately pull the listener spellbound. Man plunges deep into the blues and feel quickly surrounded him and feels like it is spreading inwardly and his wide-load-bearing effect does. You can not exactly say whether one beats on the surface or even deeper hinunterziehen. I would say, on page 1 of the LP are always dancing on the surface of the blue again, feels only its depth, and can ravish but ultimately, of, yes Drum'n'Base almost similar rhythms. On page 2, however, opens against a deep blue, and draws one in mystical circles ever deeper down. Here are the pieces eccentric, even halluzinogen. Great, elegant first LP release of Droehnhaus comes on clear blue vinyl, and is limited to 300 pieces. Future publications by Seconds in Formaldehyde, Ufesa, Wolfsduister on Droehnhaus.
--July 7, 2009
Mazzie's Music Magorium webzine-- Mystified's "Pulse Ringer Pieces" (Droehnhaus, 2009)
Imagine yourself falling into a reality of pure blue water existence...that is what I felt when I listened to this vinyl on my record player. This is some excellent ambient music and I personally never heard of this band before I got a copy from the record label- Droehnhaus(in Germany).
The first side(A) has 3 very dark and doomy songs. None of the songs are fast at all...just very slow and ominous mood setting. I find it very fascinating to hear that while watching the record spinning around and around. The record itself is blue so it really fit the mood I think the band is trying to portray in the music. On the third song, there is something that is bit different. The beats I hear is pretty muffled. At first I thought it was some kind of mistake made during production but I realized that it fits the song really well. It almost give a suffocating feeling which makes sense.
The another side(B) is much more uplifting but not entirely happy, happy, joy, joy feeling. It's almost like I'm being pulled slowly out of the watery existence...like I was in the deep then floating slowly up to the surface. It's definitely interesting feeling and I really dig it a lot. The sound is much more soothing and calm than the first side.
I strongly recommend this album for people who are into ambient/noise and want to have a true musical and visual experience. This album is only released on vinyl so you better have a record player to play it.
Best Song: Phantom Ringer-the first song and the darkest. I just love the vibe I get while listening to the album. It's almost like I was "born" into the dark and watery existence.
Worst Song: Floaty Ghost-second song and a little too "samey" to the first song in my opinion but still a great song overall.
--September 23, 2009
Agniworld Blog-- Altered Signals
“Altered Signals” is an album of Thomas Park, an American musician, mostly known under the name Mystified. The album, released on Dark Winter label, starts with the same-named track, built up by some kind of intrauterine sonic flashes, resembling a cash-register, furiously spitting out endless checks. It is more an experimental/soft noise piece, against a background of minor low-toned drone. Irregular and buzzing, it is passing the baton to “Bell Cloud”, which comprises something like an aircraft-drone. Listening to it, you are sure to get a feeling of a processing of a takeoff. Eating more deeply into the structure of this track, you can detect some distant ghostly sounds of unknown nature, that brighten the whole track’s system. If considering “Altered Signals” to be a prelude, “Bell Cloud” is a submergence into the depths of the author’s music concept. Then comes “Vocal Tremors”; again some alteration of signals (here – voice signals) can be discovered. When I reached “Octavepus”, I realized the twin nature of this initial part of the album. The first pair is “Altered Signals” and “Vocal Tremors”, common feature of which is alteration, and the second is “Bell Cloud” and “Octavepus” – two taking off compositions, that have a ascendant guideline in their both skeletons. These four tracks represent the first part of the album. The second is a 30 minutes long “Science of change”; in it you can hear some unhurried and measured succession of fade-ins and fade-outs of tenderly ringing drones. There are no repetitions – the name of the track speaks for itself, there are only changes, but not fast – these ones evidently resemble changes in nature, which sometimes are omitted by the human eye. In the whole, the album of Mystified creates positive impressions, leaving a pleasant afterimage in the inner screen of a listener. So, become a receiver of Mystified’s “Altered Signals”.
Aquarius Records-- Cold Telemetry (Small Doses, 2008)
One of a handful of new releases from Small Doses, a micro-label that is quickly becoming one of our favorites, every disc both sonically and visually stunning.
This one is from a group/person called Mystified, the sound is a shimmering dark ambience, crafted from haunting drones and processed electronics. Mysterious metallic reverberations, soft industrial whir, abstract almost-melodies, insectoid buzz, smears of muted crackle, and crumbling distorted hiss, deep rumbles, reverbed percussion, thick squalls of slowed down grinding digital glitch, soft billowing clouds of gauzy low end smear, each track a single sound, or series of sounds, stretched and blurred into long streaks of gorgeous and ominous dark minimalism. Dreamy drones, soft focus blackened rituals, post industrial clatter, raga like buzz, expansive high end skree, all very subtle, haunting, mysterious and strangely pretty.
More super cool packaging, a thick printed card, with a printed textured diamond glued to the front, so one half of the diamond folds over and holds the cd in place. Each cd is hand numbered on the underside of the diamond, LIMITED TO 88 COPIES!
-Aquarius Records, 2008
C. Reider-- Collusion (Clinical Archives, 2009)
One of my favorite releases of the year has been put out by Mystified on the Clinical Archives netlabel.
Mystified’s “Collusion” collects the work of three of my friends and peers into one densely packed work of abstract quietnoise. I could be subjected to criticism for being biased in this recommendation, because my much admired friends and collaborators Phillip from PBK and Anthony from the Implicit Order, and Patrick from Kwalijk (also known as Desohll, with whom I collaborated on a recent release of darkambient) have contributed some remixes of music by my equally admired friend Thomas from Mystified for this release. Given the participants, one could almost expect nothing but the finest of challenging soundwork that exists on the quiet and calming edge of noise, that weird hybrid area that has been described elsewhere as “noiseambient”. Perhaps I am biased, or perhaps I have managed to make the acquaintances of several extremely talented composers on the outskirts of musical exploration. I tend to think the latter is more the case.
On “Collusion” you will find an admirably cohesive set of gritty, yet calming collection of music that treads the border between ambient music, with its calming background qualities, and noise music with it’s upfront challenging qualities.
Also contributing some remixes to this collection is KR-Ohm whom I don’t know personally, but who holds their own in very respectable company. For that she/he gains my respect.
It’s nearly a perfect music, this.
I could not recommend it more.
--C. Reider, Sunday, 15 November 2009
AmpersandEtc.-- Various Releases
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
Mystified - Thomas Park - Treetrunk
It's like a game of checkers - one position leads you to another. A while back I blogged about the netlabel Webbed Hands, particularly the Rain series. Three in the group particularly captivated me - by Mystified. Which led to a wider search across the web.
First of all there are some other Mystified (real name Thomas Park) releases on Webbed Hands, some solo and some collaborations. But there is also a pointer to his own label Treetrunk which is based in the wonderful Internet Archive (and which I had also obliquely visited while completing my K M Krebs collection). Mystified's home page has some, though limited, information on both himself and the label. (and there's the now obligatory MySpace page - I must be getting to old, but I don't get the social networking side - but it does give you a chance to listen).
Mystified's music is an interesting mix of ambient and techno styles. Following the minimal structure of his entries in the Rain series, releases such as Constant or Free Passage focus on subtle changes in the layering of ambient noises (some dense, others more minimal). Seen also in Texture (with Stephen Phillips) and Intrigue (with Flores). To my mind this is one of Mystified's greatest strengths - some of the earlier releases, such as Electronic Ragtime are closer to the world ambient genre and are less 'unique'. Though are then used to great effect when combined with radio sounds and samples in Screams in Space
However, in addition, Mystified is also a phonographer and many of the releases are based around found and recorded sounds - Nocturne, Cavern of Tile, Mutescape (which mellows the sounds of the city) or South City Spring for example use these as the primary component, while Audio Paintings uses other components as well. These (and a compilation I included in the Webbed Hands review) are great examples of the power of phonography/sonography.
There is also more standard keyboard/tonal ambience such as Music for Infants and Clockwork. These pieces have an aleatoric feel that relates to Mystifieds aims to create fractal music: seen in Fabrication and a series called Fractal Diner (1 - 3 on Treetrunk; whose releases are primarily by Mystified) that feature slowly modulating delicate ambiences (there is also Fractal Reflections on Webbed Hands). Many of these reminded me (positively) of Brian Eno.
As an introduction two mixtapes are available - Oddities (a collection of pieces released across various labels and formats) and Big Shoulders (an homage to Chicago and composed over tracks created over an extended time)- which make a good starting point.
While most Treetrunk releases are by Mystified (in the normal way of weblabels) some others have also been released, including K M Krebs, Akashic Crow's Nest, Edward J Poley, Tim Doyle and the very flexible Tribe of Astronauts - all of whose interests seem to intersect with Mystified's.
This is all free music - varied but with a underlying strength and focus. I've enjoyed all the pieces I have downloaded - and now have all of Treetrunk (except number 7: one complaint is that there is no 'master list' of releases and an Internet Archive search hasn't brought it to light) and all the Mystifieds from Webbed Hands (including collaborations) - and find them very satisfying particularly for the deep minimal ambience that pervades many of them. (Mystified has also had many real releases, but I haven't heard any of those). Anyway, my advice is to try some Mystified: it's free and I am sure you will enjoy most if not all of it.
Saturday, February 9
Following from the blog of 9 January some more on Thomas Park aka Mystified.
First, as noted at the end of that post I had only scratched the surface of his discography by focusing on Webbed Hands and Tree Trunk. By closely scrutinising his text discography (on the mystified site) I found a heap more. Regular readers of &etc across the years will know I am a bit of a completist where time, money and downloads allow. So I have been gathering these from a welter of labels (Nishi, Dreamland, Smell the stench, Jon7, Enough, Batman and Robin, Earthmantra, Blackflower, Infinite Sector, Dark Winter, Negative Sound Institute, Benekkea, 20kbps, non-quality audio, TZP drone, Kahvi, Sine fiction, 4 4 2, Umbrella, Roil noise: is them all I think) [and will have to temper my urge to then download the rest of the labels - way too much music]. There are at least 45 releases available free from these sites on top of the thirty odd from Tree Trunk and Webbed Hands.
Recognising that this is a simplification there have been three 'phases' to Mystified's career to date
the first saw releases on Webbed Hands and a variety of net labels
then there was a greater focus on his own label Tree Trunk, but with other net labels getting a good look in
while currently cd-r and real label releases are coming to the fore.
Basically a fairish overview, but noting that there are still current web releases. Another simplification would be to suggest that the earlier stuff is more beaty, contains more samples while latterly there has been more minimal ambient. I would also venture to suggest that Mystified places his releases: the Nishi stuff is nicely beated and perhaps reflects the Autocad (Park's previous incarnation) relationship with Rapoon; while 20kbs is more dubby (an interesting label, its name describes its download aesthetic - small lo-fi); Umbrella noize has a couple of albums featuring sonography. Again, there is more here than is possibly to reasonably review, and all I can suggest is that you sample a fair whack of it as there is a host of high quality ambient, dub, grooved, minimal, sonographic music on offer. As analysed below they combine shorter tracks and often a broader diversity (eg Puzzle Street on Jon7 has moved from a groovy piece through some sonography (and back to it now) to AM layers which is extremely minimal: a hum and the end groove of a record).
(More generalisations - Mystified swings between long album length works and shorter collections of tracks about 6 minutes or less in length; a further generalisation - these collections are more common on the 'other label' releases. As of my collection today, 60% of the tracks on Webbed Hands/Tree Trunk are less than 5 minutes compared to 88% on other labels; the data for less than 7 minutes is 73% and 95% [it's the scientist in me! - I would do it by year too if I had the data.])
A problem that Mystified has created for himself, however, is why would anyone buy any of his releases? With so much on offer on the web, for free, purchasing may seem a poor second cousin to some. Reasons to buy however would include - better sound quality; having an actual artefact (which is important to some people); attracting people with a penchant for collecting something nearly unique by having a small run; and recognising that there will be a small but dedicated (and fluid) group of people who like the music so much they want as much as possible, another reason for smaller runs as this is not a huge market (but it is amazing how much product a prolific artist like Muslimgauze or Merzbow can sell). Anyway, in response to my previous review, Mystified has sent me two of his recent cd-rs.
Hazy Waves came out on Cloud Valley Recordings (cv-30) which is based in Canada and has runs of generally less than 50. Simple packaging that includes a track list, the cd-r is hand artfied and contains 9 songs in 43 minutes. In many of the long-form Mystified works there is a static minimalism: exemplified by Constant, which spawbed a series by other musicians, or his take on Rain. This disk contains what sound like fragments captured from longer works which have been going before you heard these bits and will still be going while you are listening to the next track. They fade in and then fade out. These are lovely pieces, Wavelength drifts in an eno-ish way exemplifying the structure here: a lovely tonal work playing over a soft buzzing - a juxtaposition seen throughout. Transmutation is whooshing over a watery flow; Fuzz drone has musical tones which surface through the fuzzy hiss and deep thrumming; Many legs with oscillating pulses, chattering and vinyl crackle-spatter. Another aspect is heard in Bring rain where a roiling cloud of sound is constantly moving forward without arriving, Amorphous is an amorphous subsonic rumbling, while the title track features a rapid chittering that sounds like a whooshing that softens and becomes more whooshy, again with tones deep within - as with much of this minimal ambient there is a psycho-acoustic quality where your brain creates other sounds from within the stasis. The edit from Chronos has more variability in its short presence, and is a fine conclusion to a nice little album (edition of 33 - hurry).
The other is Escaping Physics, the first release from Sentient Recognition Archive, in an edition of 50: 11 songs in 49 minutes. Again, these are short, often excerpts, but seem more enclosed than Hazy. A couple of tracks reflect the cover image and have a watery theme - both Freak of physics and Pulsar 2 have a dolphin or whale like sonar sweeping through with undertows of humming ambience. Another group suggest site recordings: wind blowing on a microphone in a storm (Class conflict 2) with a high cycling, a wind swept building softly shudders in Shuffle drone and rain over a melody is The ocean inside. Roww has a voice-processed-ish rhythm with rachets and tones and a Tuvan-ishh growl offers Mild alarm with a swirling wind over. The other three tracks - Class conflict, Mild alarm 2 and Revving - are all a bit more edgy with high tones, buzz saws or drones. So again a fine range of styles across this and slightly more available.
To be honest, neither is dramatically diffrent from releases that can be garnered from the web - but these are quality recordings at high fidelity. And worth having.
-Jeremy Keens, 2008
Friday, August 8, 2008
Mystified - Forbidden Planet and Falling from Grace
Mystified returns with another couple of real-world disks.
For those who have been listening to the Tone Generation podcasts - pointed to some time ago - his album on Roil Noise A Tribute to Forbidden Planet is a beauty. While I can't compare it to the original (having only seen the film once many years ago and have heard snatches of the soundtrack, including on the podcast) this seems to capture the spirit of the time with analog synth woobling and fibrillar pulsing, singing tones, crackling edgy generator-noises, humming and grainy tones. Recurring themes and changing moods - there are some contemplative moments - keep you focussed on the musical drama. In a further act of homage, it seems the tracks are the exact same length as the originals - when I ripped this into my iTunes library the tracklist database identified it as the soundtrack and lobbed up the titles. A lot of fun and a strangely modern blast from the past!
Meanwhile, from Sartgalgh records a 3" 20 minute drone piece Falling From Grace. This is a shifting work with quite separate movements that slide into each other - the first part is quite direct metal drones, which shifts to a gentler ringing before a more subtly beated section. Then a long soft fade that ties off this very nice little work.
And of course there has been plenty of activity on TreeTrunk and Webbed Hands in the interim - Mystified's Ocean of Vapour on Webbed hand, the two remix albums based onMystified's Particular Stream; more Constants; another in the Rain series on Webbed - the first from label boss McDill and a huge compilation of String ambient by familiar and less so names.
-Jeremy Keens, 2008
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Mystified - Baseline
We listen to music through our musical history - so here is part of mine. I bought King Crimson, In the Court of, from a friend at school and sort of liked it. Then my sister bought me Larks' Tongues in Aspic which amazed me and won me over (that period KC is it for me - also note a connection with Tom Phillips). That same sister was a fan of Bowie, and then one day in the car and over the radio came Always crashing in the same car, from Low. Again, another epiphany about what music could be. Soon after someone played me Taking Tiger Mountain (by strategy) and I bought a copy of Another Green World and a musical trinity was set up for me. Sometimes I play 6 degrees of separation to connect various artists in my record collection to that Eno/Bowie/Fripp heart. Hence the many references to Fripp and Eno here especially. So where does it fit here?
Well, this Mystified album reminded me of what is one of Eno's many atmospherically perfect songs - The Belldog
Most of the day/we were at the machinery/
in the dark sheds/that the seasons ignore
(words thanks to More Dark Than Shark). And the majority of this album Baseline could be a site recording from those machinery sheds. (OK - it's a long bow to draw, but my mind works in Mysterious was.) We start with some Man machine drones active ringing tones, some softly buzzing and some deeper vibrations: metal with softer undersides. Waves of whooshing from machines that a throbbing deeper underground in Hertz two oh, before rumbling hiss of Diesel powered equipment. We are moving with Uncertainty listening to soft winds through the tunnels and come across a buzzing, more active Baseline, high tonal-voices woven in. Strange winds simply as titled, rumbling of a distant train, and in some ways ends this phase of the album.
It becomes more active with Mystified's remix of Piskadear, pulsing rings and more variation and sounds in the drone, before a complete switch is thrown in Always beginning where we have beaty fast rhythm loops, guitar ambiences and a sense of activity. Back to drifting with the long, shifting ringing descents of Polar out, reminiscent of Eno's Apollo, some of which are ear-ringing. A reprise remixed by Coldstream ends the album with a rawer version, more edge and echo on the loops. Another excellent ambient outing from Mystified.
-Jeremy Keens 2008
Monday, October 13, 2008
Mystified - Skywatchers
Mystified again - this one from a label called small-doses which does some very nice packaging (here the disk forms an integral part of the heavens, and the torn card creates a horizon. Mystified describes this as a 'concept album of sorts', without explanation - and being Mystified this could be musical or concept - his recent collaboration with Saluki Regicide was split so that 'one is assigned all frequencies below 1kHz, and the other gets everything above' - and the outcomes were later mixed together. And it works! It's a Webbed Hands download.
Skywatchers is some beautiful minimal ambiences - the tracks seem to offer a balance between two levels - the higher ringing buzzing washing hissing shimmering elements and deeper pulsing throbbing rumbling multifaceted components underneath. As in the beautiful evolving high ringing tone in Dark shimmer with a multifaceted rumbling undertone, active hissing like rain with big pulsating throbs of Big and round, or Saturated sky's soft ringing washes and pulse. Hollow resonant tones stutter towards a melody in Tactile waves and overall a minimalism that teeters on the edge between the conscious and unconsciousness, between a focus and an indefinable thereness which slowly evolves and twists just beyond awareness. Lose yourself while watching the sky.
-Jeremy Keens, 2008
Thursday, July 9, 2009
Mystified - Pulse Ringer Pieces
As anyone who has read this will know, I have nothing against downloaded music and cds. Both are convenient and offer music which is almost indelible: it isn't impossible to lose a file or scratch a cd but it is hard to. But, there is a lot that has been lost with the move away from vinyl. The sheer pleasure of getting a 12" disk in a big cover has largely been lost. As cover design developed the pleasures increased - the gatefold, complex inserts - the book of drawings that came with Ringo's solo album, or with Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy; Jethro Tull's Living in the Past, Thick as a Brick and Passion Play. Intricate and exciting cover images - I still look through my book of Roger Dean covers, and the releases from Hipgnosis. And I can't go past my favourite Talking Heads/ Rauschenberg cover - or the one that got away: PiL Metal Box!
OK cds can do nice box sets (Eno's 2 boxes, David Sylvian, Sakamoto, the Jethro Tull cigar box and more) but single cds don't go anywhere near the pleasure of the cover - too small. And that shiny disk can't beat a 7 or 12" vinyl - usually black but with a special frisson if the vinyl is coloured. Which gets us to Mystified's Pulse Ringer Pieces which is a blue 12" release via Dronehaus.
3 tracks per 15 minutes side, short but focussed and with the undeniable pleasure and richness that vinyl can provide. I am not a real audiophile and sometimes listen on old equipment (I got the amp for my 21st birthday) but mainly the computer or iPod - but vinyl has to pump out the old system and it did so very nicely thank you.
Side one (check out the out-groove inscription to tell which is which) opens with what could be the title track, though it is called Phantom ringer. A ringing pulse emerges through watery bubbling shimmering tectures, combined with some vinyl splatters (one thing that is hard to tell is the difference between spatters that have been added to the music and those cause by my aging equipment!). Floaty ghost is again watery under a tapping echo which reminds me of moored yachts (and a Quiet American piece). It bubbles and simmers before a developing hiss introduces a more active, choppery section. Then prayer bells and an electronic mummbled mass prayer witha heart beat: it pasues before a faster beat comes in and the ambience of Pulse beyond drifts for a lovely 6:33.
Getting out begins side 2 with a shimmering bout of beautiful ambience, hovering slightly; theninto more beats with the pumping Cool vapor where long layered tones are enmeshed in a clicking tapping fast beat, pulses moving in and out, and some nice shifts and drifts. Ending with Round shimmer where building shimmers are accompanied by a noise which could be a dolphin burping, and island of metallic highlights, another complex but gentle beat enters, drops out and then returns us into the drift, puntuated by soft drills
Obviosly Mystified is not someone who it is hard to get music by - there is a mass at Treetrunk and various other net sites where you can download it, plus the various cd-rs etc. And this is not a departure from previous releases but a very fine example of the combination of ambience and subtle beats that is part of Thomas Park's range. But if you want to have the feel of good solid vinyl in your hand, to experience the development of your own ambient crackleadditions, and drift into the cover as you listen to the music, then I hope there are some copies left.
--Jeremy Keens, July 9, 2009
Landschaft: "Ophir" (Darkwinter)
Metadata: Mystified is Thomas Park and he looks a bit like Moby in the photo of the great man on his home site. Since 2003 under the Mystified banner he has produced collaborative, mixed media and personal works, mainly orbiting the ambient/drone genre. On the basis that a man is as good as his library, perform your own character assessment of Thomas at his extensive links page, a one stop shop for a fine array of leftfield labels and artists. I approve of Thomas' distribution model - lots of free works - in the best tradition of the web. He is a keen blogger, posting most days, and as you will see he still embraces the compact cassette, the medium that democratised music, a cultural precursor to the www.
Ophir by Mystified. The album is available as a high bitrate MP3 from Orphir on Darkwinter In overview, Orphir is what I regard as a sub-minimal work - beyond what I regard as "drone". It is a deeper layer in the taxonimic root-system, that for want of a better description, I would call "dispersal". This is deepest essence, the volatile micro-trace that evaporates from music at the slightest waver from absolute zero. The antithesis of melody, harmony and counterpoint. White paint on a white wall. In this sense, it achieves more than Jonh Cage's seminal 4'33''. Orpir defies a paradox - it defines silence with sound. The review, as often from the Landschaft pen, is free-form; a trancendental impression rather than literal description, and in this case is interchangable between pieces; a series of pen sketches:
A pot-shard caught in stasis, suspended in the layers of history. A marker in time culturally cross-referencing - defining a point in time. Or the Tertiary/Cretacious border clueing an extinction event in a band of ash, an event in the geo-scape, a bar code turned on it's side waiting to be read.
The friction of dead plankton on water molecules in their descent to the depths. A cypher waiting for the law of accelerating return to increase computing complexity to a point where the relationship of everything to everything else is decoded. A Rosetta stone of secrets waiting to be unlocked.
White noise from the ether, where CETI, casting her far reaching ear in anticipation of a voice from the galaxies has arrived too late for the message.
Orphir is a small Orkney Isles (NE of Scotland) community on the edge of Scarp Flow. Home to the ghosts of the british naval fleets of two world wars. The rusting hulks of monster battleships lie at rest on the seabed, graves to the fallen in plate steel. And Orphir is the seaweed that wafts on the tide.
-Landschaft blog, 2 March, 2008
Aural Pressure: "Transient" (Latex, 2005)
Thomas Park - aka Mystified - is a classically and jazz trained musician. His first electronic music venture was in the form of Autocad, an experiment in fractal generated techno. After experiencing some success and recognition with the project, Park continued to produce techno tracks until recently when he began experimenting with dark ambient soundscapes with an industrial influence. Transient comprises of the best tracks from two previous MP3 releases on Dreamland Recordings in 2004 - Transient & Transient 2 - plus a new bonus track and new artwork.
Park describes his music as "industrial ambient" and it soon becomes clear what he means by that phrase. Although it initially sounds deceptively simple, Transient possesses hidden depths. On the face of it, the tracks have warm rhythmic beats sitting over drifting textures but the realisation soon sets in that there is more to Park's music than just that. Starting gently with 'Pendulum', Transient soon starts to expand its scope. The metallic chimes, almost tribal drums and sinister creeping drones hint at what Park means by "industrial ambient". Often resembling the hypnotic mechanised rhythm of machinery at work and adding swathes of low industrial drone in the background, Park creates an image of heavy industrial toil. 'Sol Invictus', for example, portrays relentless grinding wheels and the never ending whir and drone of machinery. Of a more optimistic and urgent tone is 'Silent Swing' with its train-like hum and clatter over a dark, ominous air of expectancy. One thing that becomes evident as you listen and digest this album is that the generally quite bright and upbeat theme hides a dark swirling maelstrom of a nightmarish influence. This is never more evident than in the fittingly titled 'Disembody' where spectral voices, an ominous mechanical throb and soaring industrial drones combine to warn of a darker more malevolent dimension. Only through Park's own dub reinterpretations of 'Sliptide' and 'Leakage' does the warm more upbeat side of his work win through and the sharp rhythmic beats eventually take control.
Blastbeats For Freedom-- Various Releases
MYSTIFIED - “Iron” CD-R (Turgid Animal)
The semi well known multi-national noise label (UK and Italy), TURGID ANIMAL put this CD-R out in an edition of 21. They have an obscene amount of releases for a 2 year old label. This is their 215th. The packaging left a little to be desired (but what do you expect from a label as ultra-prolific as TURGID ANIMAL?). The “Verbatim” brand CD-R definitely detracts from the overall look of the release (using storebought “branded” CD-Rs is sort of a pet peeve of mine). Fortunately the music more than makes up for the lackluster packaging. MYSTIFIED has been laying down the chill ass creepy noise jams for some time now and this CD doesn’t dissapoint. Contained are 10 song length tracks of haunting sound collages rife with chimes, bells, electronic farts, and looped insect noises throughout. The mixture of analog and digital sound creates an exremely varied, engaging listen that would be perfect as a horror soundtrack. I’m hearing buried tympani and processed field recordings mixed with programmed dissonance and digitized rainfall. There were only 21 of these act fast. It may be too late. This shit is way more ominous/threatening than a lot of the “harsher than thou” noise artists. Wow, I just noticed that I’ve used the word, “harsh” in almost every review I’ve written. I’ll try and cool it a bit from now on.
MYSTIFIED - "Drinking Hot Beer" 3” CD-R (Existential Cloth Recordings)
The cover art for this mini-CD is very colorful and would be quite beautiful if not for the extreme pixelation. The text is virtually unreadable! But again, this is another one where the music makes up for the packaging. This whole thing seems to be made up of lightly processed field recordings, some so untouched and left in their natural state that I find myself hearing certain parts and thinking, “This is supposed to be interesting?” yet for some reason I’m captivated. Sparse drums and accidental(?) melodies make appearances as do running water and traffic noise. I dig it. Seek this out if you like stuff that straddles fine line between “noise music” and random sound.
MYSTIFIED - “Mellow Utility” CD-R (Ambolthue)
Another full-length release from MYSTIFIED. Another 10 relatively short tracks of atmosphere and all around chillaxitude. This one is somewhat similar to the “Iron” CD-R on TURGID ANIMAL but way more relaxed and not as exploratory. “Mellow Utility” is a wonderfully fitting title. Rather than take you forward on an adventure, these tracks seem to hang around in their own fog not moving too much but creating space to float. Painting a picture. This is definitely more meditative than the other two MYSTIFIED releases featured above. Lots of machine-hum ambience and cavernous echo. Totally awesome relaxing ambient music. I think I could put this CD on repeat and go to bed. As a matter of fact I think I’m getting... kind of... ... sleeeeepy... ... ... Zzzz... Zzzz... ... ... Zzzz.
-Fred Avila of “Blastbeats For Freedom”, 2007
Mark Meloche-- "Diminished" (Roil Noise, 2006)
Ctephin / Mystified - Diminished
Artist: Ctephin / Mystified
Label: Roil Noise Offensive
TRT: 32:54 / 36:10
A new spilt release dedicated to the infinitely small. Both of these artists have an extensive discography and most of their works are something to behold. To see these two working together is like Legendary Pink Dots meeting Big City Orchestra...wait, that did happen. To sum it up, this is one of the most beautiful ambient splits you will ever hear. This is coming from someone who has heard 100's of ambient pieces, so take my word for it.
Ctephin plays some tape speed manipulation of drones, a harpsichord, and even a Tibetan singing bowl. This 33 minute piece has it all. I will mention that his wife plays cello and his daughter creates noises with synths, pedals and teenage attitude. Ha! What a family! The track has great fades from one piece to the next and this track does make me think of how small we really are in the big bowl of space. The heavy drones mixed with bells and harpsichord tones showcase my brain into a place we dare look. The dark, deep vast that seems so far away....so small we are to reach it.
Mystified produces are great 36 minute piece with drones and water. This water recording isn't just him walking up to a beach and hitting record. These water drips echo in and out of this magnificent piece. The track starts off with a terrifying cloud that has broken through my eye's retina. A horrific drone that cascades with echoed water drips that fade in and out that go splashing about my brain. If you love the old works of DVOA then look no further, this is music for the eyes. And this track has bass too. Shook my damn walls it did!
An excellent split from two growing artists in the ambient field. Something for me to look forward to in the future for sure.
-Mark Meloche, 2006
Dave x-- Various Releases
A whole lotta Mystified reviews, pt.1
I’ve been listening to Thomas Park’s Mystified recordings for over a year now, with his unique takes on ambient and noise peppering many of my broadcasts. Oddly enough, I have yet to review a single one of his discs– the plan was always to do the first few I owned in a small lump, but Mystified’s punishing release schedule (and enormous back catalog) often meant I was listening to more Mystified as soon as I put another down!
Between the fact that I can’t keep myself away from STL’s Apop Records, and Park generously making so many net-releases, what once was a small group of reviews has become an unwieldy archipelago. As you can see, I’ve already had to split it!
Let’s dive right in, okay?
“Think Cosmically, Act Locally” is a double 3? CDR from Roil Noise, and is an excellent place to start for new Mystified listeners as it effectively gathers many of the elements used throughout Mystified’s catalog. “Think Cosmically,” is also a nice starting place because it is less obviously repetitious, a key facet of Park’s work that could easily be misunderstood or under-appreciated in an initial listen. Although ultimately a non-narrative work like most of Park’s outings; the evocative sounds of broken and mis-formed communication, “field recording”-like drain tunnel sounds, and wind noises are tantalizingly simple to begin assembling into something of a story. Like the discs themselves, the tracks also form a kind of dichotomy– more natural elements interspersed with similar sounds heard in a “re-broadcast” or “second-generation” way, like shy aliens eavesdropping on a lonely military installation. A more traditional road might have led listeners to a confrontation between these two groups, but if anything, “Think Cosmically…” puts listeners sympathetically in the aliens’ shoes, content to listen and wait.
“Mellow Utility” is a CDR on Oslo-based Ambolthue Records, Mystified’s second for the label, both released in 2007. This recording isn’t quite as strongly repetitive as some Mystified discs, though the repetitiousness is definitely beginning to set in– particularly with tracks like “Don’t Ask,” featuring down-pitched sirens and restless phase waves. “Mellow Feed,” sounding much like a series of very slow tones blended end-to-end; creates lovely harmonic effects between stereo speakers, sort of a phantom “second voice” in the mix. Where “Mellow Utility” suffers, though, is with it’s identity. After listening to enough of Park’s work, it’s abundantly clear that he’s fascinated with sounds of all sorts– for someone picking up a first Mystified disc, though, Park’s enthusiasm for different sounds may be a bit too scattershot.
“Instability” is Park’s first CDR for Ambolthue, and also from 2007. If any Mystified album could garner a larger response for Mystified, it would have to be this one, and easily the most harsh of the bunch. Sounding like a more aurally-concerned hybrid of The Haters and Muslimgauze, “Instability” features record-needle-dragging noise, distorted city buses (seemingly, a Mystified fave source for some reason), eardrum-piercing tones, and even a little induced nausea for the listener when some of the standing waves start infiltrating the Eustachian tubes with overtones. Listeners should also note Park’s tendency to revisit certain sounds/sources, such as the growing chaotic qualities of “Brannon Construct” versions 1, 2, and 3; all of which appear on the disc. As a side note, Sandy Spreitz’s collage cover art for “Instability” is really cool.
“Iron” is a CDR on Turgid Animal Records, Park’s second for the label since his split CDR with Coco and Fiend Friend, “Hamburger Horizons.” You’ll find “Instability 2? (and 3!) on this disc, as well as “Into Static,” the number 2 version being found on “Mellow Utility.” One of these days, and extra-obsessive fan will do the legwork and draw me a diagram of these sorts of things… Until then, back to reviewing. One interesting thing about re-listening to so much Mystified material at once was realizing that I had started to develop my own internal vocabulary for sorting and describing the discs: “Think Cosmically, Act Locally” was a mix of “indoor” and “outdoor” tracks, with “Mellow Utility” being mostly “outdoor.” If you’re following along much with how I think about these things, you can see how “Iron” would have an “indoor” sound– less focused on sourced-sounds, more attention to pattern, and an increased palette of tone due to processing.
It’s not a hard-and-fast decree– “The Edge of the River (edit)” features very prominent water samples surrounded by a fast-moving miasma of electrical discharge, and “Rubber Cats 2? manages to jar me with a transient “bump” sound that comes out of nowhere and quickly disappears. And really, that’s the most tricky thing about listening to Mystified– superficially, almost every track is a series of looping elements– but when you wade out into them, you hear how what appears to be a loop is actually a collection of sounds undergoing a constant change… much like a swarm of flying insects, recognizable as a group no matter their exact position within it.
“Displaced Assemblage” is a CDR release on Bone Structure, one of three Mystified releases for the label so far. A split with Roto Visage is scheduled to be released later this year. If Mystified has a blues album, “Displaced Assemblage” is it. Aside from the weird side-trip of “Scientific Barrage (dance mix),” and it’s abstract beat, this is a fairly depressing album. “Empty Nest” practically sighs with a soundscape of birds, trains, and quiet desperation. Beautifully pieced-together, it’s a real high point of the album. “Dronefield” follows suit, with drawn-out elements tinged with ennui. Even “Please Remain Calm” seems too worn out by life to really tear the roof off noise-style, and instead settles for a circular scraping sound, like caged bears pawing on concrete. The final track, “Feed and Drone” has the feeling of an enormous being, settling down for sleep. Great stuff! I think it’s a release of 80, so hopefully, it’s not sold out.
“Strange Traffic 1 & 2? is a bizcard CDR on Roil Noise. Clocking in at under 5 minutes, I suppose it’s more of a curiosity than anything, but still sounds pretty damn good. Great mastering delivers a powerful bit of volume for this snack, which seems primarily comprised of road noise– the whine of tires on grooved pavement, truck horns, and the sympathetic hum of highway bridges– processed and blended into ringing tones and noise. Cool!
“Granular Cloud” is a bizcard CDR on Serpent Movement Recordings, and the second in their “Black Plague” series of bizcard releases. Serpent Movement plans to release a Mystified/The Sleeping Room split CDR later this year. This one is a Mystified oddity– what sounds like fragments of disperate Nine Inch Nails track elements are rebroadcast in a strange, un-worked mash. A greater form of repetition holds things together, with serious tension ultimately arising from Park’s steadfast refusal to adopt any song structure initially suggested by the track. With only a release of 10, a little shame should go to Serpent Movement for such poor execution of the cover art– a rather poorly-printed pixel-y image of some sort of Grim Reaper. Hopefully, this sort of thing has since been taken care of, or the design farmed out.
I need a freakin’ Coke, and I don’t have any. That being said, let’s examine the tapes:
“I Died/Mystified” is obviously a split cassette, on the Black and Purple label. It is his first release with the label, with both releases being split C30s. The “I Died” side is terrible, I won’t kid you. I really didn’t like this side at all; it seemed artless and derivative. When it wasn’t mindlessly chugging forward, some voice would pop in and yak for a while in an effected voice. Saying this openly means I can effectively count on never receiving a promo release from Black and Purple, because as I understand it, I Died is also the label owner. However, I am otherwise totally unfamiliar with I Died’s recordings, and am still open to hearing more of his work– if I’m wrong, and you can prove it– do it!
Thankfully, the Mystified side kicks ass, so it wasn’t a waste of my $3. Thank you, Apop, for keeping tapes cheap. There’s an edit of “Rubber Cats” from “Iron,” and “Brannon Construct 4,” which you may remember had three separate versions on “Instability.” A nice proto-bassline pops along in “Holy Smoke,” making for a bit of an unusual, but enjoyable cut. Levels on both sides of the tape are pretty hot, and have decent mastering– it’s noise, so I’m assuming any hum is half-intended/half-equipment.
“Sand of Ages” is Mystified’s other release for Black and Purple, as a split with Ctephin. The mastering of this tape is quite a bit better than the other, with a very clear sound throughout, though with a bit less volume overall. Mystified’s side features a lot more percussion elements, but less of the subtle changes that inform so much of Park’s cuts. It’s almost a bit too straightforward, but enjoyable nonetheless. Ctephin, however, just about rips the top of my head off! Although the tape doesn’t have the hottest levels, Ctephin’s drones simply permeated my home– there was nowhere I could go that I couldn’t hear this roaring cycle of noise– even outdoors, enough shot through my old house that I had to pause and reflect on how effective certain sounds are at getting one’s attention. As a quick note, classy cover art too!
“Krellmuse” is the last freakin’ thing I’m reviewing today. It’s a C52 from Abandon Ship Records, who have a lot of really nice-looking tapes and CDRs I’d love to have. First person to send me a copy of Bjerga/Iversen’s “Empire of Dirt” wins! “Krellmuse” is kind of like a companion tape to Mystified’s brand new “Planete Interdite” CDR on Roil– but whereas “Fatal Planet” is a reworking/re-imagining of the original “Forbidden Planet” soundtrack, “Krellmuse” attempts to inhabit the collective mind of some of the film’s unseen characters and create something of their music. As the title indicates, this would be the Krell– highly advanced frog-creatures now long extinct. To this effect, Park presents a well-blended fog of mostly-relaxed drone– as a fan of the movie, you have to notice the layer of turmoil under the surface of many portions of the tape, such as “Deep Trouble.” If such underlying tension could destroy the Krell in one night, what could it do here?
Whew! All done for now. In my next installment, look for reviews of: “Balam,” “Planete Interdite,” “Mystified vs. Ghoul Detail,” “Rough vs. Smooth,” ‘Layers & Levels,” “Diminished,” “Spacewater,” and “D-Program.”
-Dave x, 2008
Dave X - “Skywatchers”
With “Skywatchers,” the ever-prolific Mystified brings a sense of slow and graceful movement to his often gloriously sessile work. Although the sense of direction could hardly be described as linear– indeed, tracks like “Anomaly” seem to trace the patterns of smoke in the air– “Skywatchers” seems to abandon the use of more obvious loops that characterized his previous “sound designs” in favor of increasingly organic phrasings and ambient progression.
Like all of Thomas Park’s Mystified releases, there’s not a lot of deconstruction that needs to be done on the listener’s end. “Big and Round” is a good example, and accurately titled. Gradually descending in pitch, the piece works as a giant “reveal” of the underlying rhythmic structure before letting listeners loose in the free space of “Dark Shimmer.”
It’s not drone music by any means; Park’s evident care and delicacy of design negate this possibility quite completely. Rather, “Skywatchers” is ambient done right, with Park as the go-to guy for listeners wanting more from their soundscapes than is customarily offered.
I also have to mention that the packaging is superb. Previously, I had only a passing familiarity with the Small Doses label, but now they have my full attention. The torn-paper landscape packaging for “Skywatchers” grabbed my attention from the moment it arrived in my post; the use of the actual disc as lunar element in the scene is simply perfect. Whoever is running things at Small Doses looks to be doing a great job.
“Skywatchers” is available on Small Doses as the 28th release.
-Dave X, 2008
Evil Sponge-- "Deus Irae" (Dreamland Records, 2003)
Review: Part of the fun of the Sine Fiction series has been downloading and listening to releases for things i would like to read, if i ever have the time. This book, a tale of a parapalegic cyborg out to paint a portrait of the angry god of a post-nuclear holocaust cult, sounds like the type of thing i enjoy. (In a way, it seems vaguely reminiscent of A Canticle for Liebowitz, by Walter Miller. A great book, by the way.) It also sounds like just the sort of thing that Zelazny (who is most famous for his Amber series) and Dick (who wrote, among other things, works that were the inspirations for Blade Runner, Total Recall, and Minority Report) would dream up together.
The music here is excellent. I cannot speak for the novel, but Mystified really seems to have done a fine job of using ambient electronica to capture mood. The first piece, Tibor and the Ancients is a rumbling ambient interlude. It is a mellow and reflective piece, perfect for the novel's main character to reflect on those who brought the nuclear holocaust down upon mankind, thus causing his deformities.
The second track moves along at a loping pace, and is appropriately called Tibor Moving. Apparently this describes the portion of the novel where he is travelling about, looking for the angry god, so that he can paint the portrait. It is a well done piece with a constant rhythm and plenty of strange computer noises describing a pleasant, if odd, journey.
The next tune is Recycled T, and i am not immediately sure what this one is about. There is a low rumble as of surf breaking against the shoreline, so maybe Tibor's journey takes him to the ocean. There is also an eerie bass rumble, and creepy synth tones, so all is not right at this seashore. Still, a nice piece that does well at setting a disconcerting mood.
Future Visionary is a more joyous song. Primal drums clatter beyond long synth drones. This song reminds me, in some small way, of the work of Young American Primitive (always a good comparison) in that it has that same combination of a joyous primal spirit with high tech noodlings. Appropriate given the title, don't you think?
It logically flows into a pure ambient piece, the lovely Irradiated Air. This is a song of flowing synth tones that often swell into almost violent noise. It continually starts, builds, and fades out. One gets the impression that old Tibor is having a hard time holding onto consciousness in the irradiated air. Nonetheless, this is a lovely ambient track, in which the ebb and flow of sound create an overall relaxing atmosphere.
Finally, the journey ends with Tibor Cycled Out, a title which doesn't leave me with much hope for a happy ending to this novel. (Then again, happy endings never were P. K. Dick's style.) This is a ponderous piece of sparse piano and synth hits. Nicely done, and a lovely, if somewhat melancholy, way to end this album.
On the whole, this is an excellent release. Even if it were not associated with a Philip K. Dick and Roger Zelazny novel i would enjoy it tremendously. In fact, i would go so far as to say that this is the highpoint of the Sine Fiction series: high praiase considering how much i have enjoyed the series overall. According to the ID tags in the MP3 files, Mystified is aka Thomas Park. Watch out for these names, mark my words.
Now I need to go get this novel to see how the music pairs up with it.
-Evil Sponge, 2003
Free Albums Blog-- Various Releases
Thomas Park aka Mystified is arguably the best composer / musician working in the field of ambient-industrial electronica. He must certainly be one of the most prolific having his works available on many different netlabels. His discography lists many CDs and online recordings that attest to his talents. His bag of tricks includes field recordings, beat manipulation, drones, and homemade sounds and he always manages to cook up a stunning array of soundscapes. I picked an even dozen recordings, all free, legal and online, that will give you a good representation of Mystified’s world. These are all full albums between 30 minutes to one hour in duration.
Mystified’s work on the Nishi net label may be as good as a place to start as any. Mystical Steam is one of the more accessible, starting with a catchy and almost tuneful “Certainty” then transforming into hypnotic soundscapes involving. among other things, water drops, chimes, and mechanical noises. Dark Lacunae and Hunting Collecting are also good introductions as the tracks include both ambient efforts, drone pieces, and more rhythmic endeavors.
As typical of many of the albums on the Webbed Hand Records, Mystified’s Constant and The Hush are single tracked and meditative. These are long droning works with Mystified at his most minimalist. I also recommend his albums from Webbed Hand’s Rain Series.
Treetrunk has a nice collection of Mystified albums. Cavern of Tile is primarily water sounds: pipes, faucets, sinks, etc. all recorded and manipulated in his apartment. Nocturne is a good example of the use of field recordings. It is an abstract work eschewing rhythm and tone completely. In South City Spring. Mystified uses a mini-disc recorder to pick up apartment sounds and assemble them in odd ways. Audio Paintings is an interpretation of two paintings by Sandy Spreitz representing the four elements. The sounds are mainly taken from apartment noises and short wave radio transmissions.
The Jon7.Net label has two of my favorite releases by Mystified. Puzzle Street is a dark and haunting work best experienced late at night with headphones. Sidewalk Salad is a sonic collage involving the sounds of Parks’ hometown, Saint Louis, Missouri.
Finally, one of Mystified’s latest works appears to be 2007’s Tenuosity but the artist turns them out so fast that will probably not be true by the time of this posting. For us, it is a good place to end because you can see how all of his experimentation on past albums result in this most current effort. This online album has plenty of beats but also drones, manipulated sounds and everything you would expect from Mr. Parks. Mystified is a continuing project of which we will look forward to more awe-inspiring and unpredictable sounds.
-freealbums, 05.02.07 @ 4:39 am
Wonderful Wooden Reasons, Various Releases
Mystified vs Ghoul Detail - Split
(Roil Noise RNOCDR064)
It's taken me an insanely long time to get around to listening to this album as it arrived amidst a flood of other Ghoul Detail releases which I made myself ration out over the course of several months (and there're more still to come). Here we find the Northampton based sound abuser paired off against Saint Louis droner Mystified (or Thomas Park to his mum).
Jon (Bayliss - Ghoul Detail) as regular readers of WWR will know is a perennial fave around these parts. His massive, muscular, heavily tattooed, biker, bounty hunter, chain-smoking, beer swilling, night club doorman type noise drone extravaganzas are a joy to behold and as new releases arrive faster than relatives at a lottery winners house he's always welcome on my stereo. This is no exception as he layers slabs of fuzz and grind onto a bedrock of broken bottles, blood and teeth. Excellent stuff.
It's not often that one of the poor unfortunates twinned with Mr. Bayliss on one of these split releases can really keep up with the musical turmoil he unleashes but Mystified manage it with some aplomb. Parks' noise is much less earthy than Bayliss' growl as his buzzing grind soars and swoops and shakes and shudders like a light aircraft in a hurricane. Maybe a little too treble heavy for me to be utterly taken but that was easily rectified by sliding the graphic equaliser up. Recommended.
Mystified - Mellow Utility
Mystified had previously come to my attention via his split release with Ghoul Detail this is my first experience of him on a full length release. Mystified deals predominantly in full on grinding noise attack. His sound palette is taken from the noisier end of the spectrum but he melds and folds and overlaps and attacks these sounds with a very restrained hand. Sometimes during the course of 'Mellow Utility' he may be accused of being a little too restrained in his creations as some of the sheer, uncontained and over-exuberant joie-de-vivre that is often present in the best noise compositions is missing but in it's place is a set of tightly constructed, concise noise pieces that are both diverting and an interesting 'snapshot' into what one suspects is truthfully a single part of a work in progress.
Mystified + Rabbit Girls
(Roil Noise RNOCDR063)
This split release on American noise label Roil Noise brings together two artists who have appeared in WWR before. Although when I say together I mean 'as part of the same release' not in the collaborative sense or in the sharing a disc sense for that matter as each is on his own separate teeny weeny CD. Mystified who on previous releases had felt a little too well-mannered - a noise artist you could take home to meet (as opposed to 'eat') your mother - kicks things off by being the disc I pulled out first and delivers 4 tracks of churning, sullen noise. In turn utilising grinding noise, processed voices and tones, scraping and blooping beats and finally adulterated field-recordings and buzzing effects. It's a strong set with an interesting array of ideas presented in a very limited (and limiting) time-frame, although I did find the choice of text on the second track to be a little cliched.
Rabbit Girls are a much noisier prospect. Their 4 tracks are considerably louder and more aggressive. Sounds are thrown about seemingly with abandon, spinning and spiralling before slotting into their appointed place in the grand scheme of the EP. It's not all as balls-out as the early tracks would have you believe as there are moments of relief scattered amongst the turmoil that can only add to the unfolding drama.
What is particularly nice about this album is that at no point do you feel the need to contrast the two featured acts. They complement each other very well by being different to each other whilst at the same time being equally as good.
Mystified - D-program
(Industrial Culture ICR012)
Mystified has become a staple feature of the WWR playlist over recent months and with each release I like his sounds more and more. His take on the whole noise genre can seem a little too well mannered but equally his is a sound that is always moving - always in flux and in flow. As such it's always worth a listen. D-program is a set of stately fuzz-laden drone-works that put me in mind of the recent solo release by Jefre Cantu-Ledesma (of Tarantel), 'Shining Skull Breath', it shares that albums love of grime riddled, fast moving drones but Mystified has added a healthy, and welcome, dose of round tonal drones that serve to add variety and extra textures to the whole. D-program is probably the most interesting thing I've heard from Mystified and is definitely worth checking out.
Ctephin & Mystified - Diminished
(Roil Noise RNOCDR041)
Two long tracks from these WWR regulars both of whom are on top of their game here. Ctephin take a beautiful disharmonic journey through a galaxy of clashing bell tones, acid trails and cataclysmic event horizons. It's probably not a place you could live for long periods but for half hour visits (32 minutes 58 seconds to be precise) it's a dream destination. For Mystified it's the drone that is becoming increasingly central to his work. Here he breaks up his sedate constructions with recordings of water drops that are maybe a little over-processed for my comfort but they create interesting diversions before the next wave of sound rolls in.
Mystified - A Tribute to Forbidden Planet
(Roil Noise RNOCDR089)
Mystified has been an almost constant presence in this zine over the last year. His work is always worth a listen but here he has truly come into his own. This 23 track homage to the sci fi classic opens up his music nicely and lifts it above and beyond the slightly clinical feel that occasionally crops up on his albums. Using an all electronic template Mystified has kept very much in the spirit of the original Louis & Bebe Barron score and has produced an album that I have been returning to frequently.
Mystified Vs. N.Strahl.N - "FM"
(Roil Noise RNOCDR094)
Over the last couple of years I've reviewed a skip full of releases on the US noise label Roil Noise. They seem to have a distinct fondness for the powerhouse end of the noise field, lots of testosterone and scowling. Now, I'm all for a bit of chest beating machismo but really only in small doses as it does tend to become quite monotonous quite quickly. Luckily there is another side to the label that seems to be coming to the fore where they are releasing artists with a looser and (or) more relaxed attitude to the soundworlds they inhabit.
Mario Löhr (N.Strahl.N) and Thomas Park (Mystified) are two great examples of this. Both artists deliver a series of dense, abstracted, post-industrial noisescapes. Neither artist is afraid to let their sound sources do the work for them giving the music a nice airy feel as opposed to the bleak dystopianism of much music from this field. Löhr, on this release at least, is the more obtuse of the two sending his sounds skipping through a junkyard of metallic constructions to coalesce into a beautifully quiet noise. Parks takes a more meandering path that explores drones, shimmering noise and a rhythmic industrialism (often all in the same track) that I hadn't heard him do before. Both are essentially travelling the same path but each is doing it in very much their own way.
It's not often that these split seedees work as well as this but this one is a doozy that is undoubtedly worth tracking down.
Mystified / Swamps Up Nostrils - Monstro
It's been a few months since Mystified last graced these pages with his presence. This was a conscious decision on my part as his releases (along with several others) were becoming a regular feature on WWR. I'm glad I did it because coming back a couple of months later with fresh ears has helped me once again appreciate how good he's getting at all this quiet noise palaver. The abundance of voice samples on his contributions may preclude Monstro from being a regular feature on my seedee player as I find they struggle to retain my attention for long which is purely a personal taste thing - I just prefer instrumentals. So tuning them out and focussing in on the music reveals on Mystified's first track a lush, glacially slow rumble upon which he's constructed the voice sample narrative that drives the piece. His other contribution continues this idea but with a slightly more dynamic and mobile instrumental base.
Swamps Up Nostrils whilst having the worst name I've stumbled across lately create some fine lo-fi ambient noise. Very much in keeping with the mood established by Mystified on the opening half of the record SUN have constructed two fine examples of earthy, tectonic crackle. Both tracks are well worth a listen but they are probably too minimalist for their own good and end up feeling a little one dimensional.
Interesting contributions from both artists but not, I think, the best work of either artist.
Mystified - Pulse Ringer Pieces
Mystified is by far the most prolific musician whose work I regularly receive for review in Wonderful Wooden Reasons (even more so than Ghoul Detail). Prolific to the point that at any one given time I probably have three or more of his albums sitting in the pile next to my desk waiting to be listened to. So, firstly, my apologies to those labels who have sent releases by him that have yet to feature - I'll get to them soon - and secondly, so is this one - the first of his I've heard on LP - any good? Well, yes actually it's very good. Mystified releases always feel part of a larger project (not unsurprisingly given what I mentioned above) and this one is no exception. Here, as with the best of his releases, he isn't content to operate within any genre confines although he does have an affinity with the darker sides of music. The darkest of ambiences sit alongside muscular drones and the occasional almost danceable beats that in turn are bathed in hiss, noise and primary coloured flashes of sound. This is definitely one of the best Mystified releases I've heard and considering that they are always, at the very least, worth a listen then please realise that I am praising this highly. Also the fact that it's on vinyl is always to be applauded.
Mystified - Tape Sludge
(Suggestion Records, Verato Project sug062)
According to the Verato website ‘Tape Sludge’ was “Created almost solely from sounds recorded to tape 18 years ago, then run through many generative processes”. I’m not certain whether these are sounds recorded by Thomas (Parks) or by other people and they are just ones he had lying around the house. Either way there’s some really rather fabulous music on here. Consisting of loops, noise, drones, tones and a myriad other tactics ‘Tape Sludge’ is a swirly kaleidoscope of silvery sound and is every bit as good as that sounds.
-Ian, 2007, 2008, 2009
Geizkragen-- "Music For Infants" (Treetrunk Records)
English via Babel Fish
"Music For Infants" is called the new Veroeffentlichg of Mystified and is in thoughts on "small to children" to have developed - nevertheless completely certainly not only, because sounds of the technology to dominate and pleases surely primarily the large ones, which have a preference for ambiente noise and sound window blinds. The longer TRACKS long up to 30 Minuen are characterised by a minimalism, repetitions as well as monotonous phases, which are suitable outstanding for easing. But despite fatter 46 minutes spieldauer does not arise boredom. You can download you the publication free of charge with archive.org.
Heathen Harvest-- Various Releases
Mystified-- "Poltergiest" (Apocalyptic Radio, 2009)
Poltergeist is one of the many little ambient gems scattered throughout the underground by brutally prolific ambient composer Thomas Park. As Mystified, he started his activity around 2002, and since then has released sheer volumes upon sheer volumes of small releases, including some collaborations with Nocturnal Emissions and Rapoon. Almost all of his releases are on either mp3 or CD-r, but together with his other projects, Thomas Park has created, in a relatively short time, a catalogue that would put Nurse With Wound, Merzbow, and Muslimgauze to shame in an instant.
His CD-r releases are like little musical seeds or artifacts he just sends out into the musical world, hoping they may somehow infect whoever may happen upon them. Either that, or simply failed laboratory experiments he’s sent out as pieces of a larger puzzle, teasing us while he soups up for an eventual full-length release. Nevertheless, what’s made its way into my lap is Mystified’s Poltergeist, released as a yellow-tinted mini CD-r. It’s a nice, short little 5-song taste of danceable electronic ambient, which is quite surprising, given the fact that this main project is promoted as being in the field of minimal ambient. Anyhow, if I wanted to hear that from him, there’s gallons to choose from!
Now while this little release doesn’t exactly blow me away with innovative composition, it’s still a rather nice little piece of ambient dance music, good for meditation, trance-induction, or any sort of mind-easing activity. It’s not really a dark ambient release, but there is a sort of eeriness about it. The structural compositions are very straightforward, with oscillating ambient thrums and throbs leading into and out of some simple IDM dance beat arrangements.
The percussion is really what drives this release, and through this album, a sense of constant flow and motion is portrayed, and though it is rather light-key, there is an element of darkness present, or at least an urgent sense of anxiety, as if running from something. The tracks are mixed into continuous play to add to this. The theme here is ghostly presences, and Mr. Parks achieves this effect through the usage of hollow oscillating tones and high register ambient sound as a backdrop to his techno embellishments. His aim is to create the feeling of wandering desolate hallways alone, yet watched, and always pursued. You are lost, there is no one around to help you, but you must keep moving. Something is following you, and you don’t want to even think about what it is, only knowing that if it catches up, something horrific will happen to you.
His stuff would also fit rather nicely on an action/sci-fi movie soundtrack, or on something by John Carpenter, who seems to be somewhat of an influence here. All in all, a short but sweet little ambient release, and I would definitely like to see what Mystified can do on a full-length album.
-Loki Helvete, 2009
"'M' Tin" (Roil Noise Records, 2007)
The first thing that struck me when I received this release was just how nicely presented this it is, being packaged in a round tin with a label on the top bearing a large M superimposed on what appears to be a magnified pollen particle. Inside you get the two discs secured to each other via a dual hub, an idea I had not seen before, and a little folded piece of card printed with all the relevant details. I was expecting quality things from the music based on the care and thought that had gone into this release and I am glad to say that I wasn’t disappointed.
mystified is the brainchild of Thomas J. Park and he has been prolifically active since 2003, as his discography readily attests, and he has collaborated with Robin Storey of Rapoon and appeared in Spin magazine for his compositional and dj-ing skills. This 2-disc set comprises a retrospective of older work and unreleased material from between the years 2003 and 2006 (naturally titled ‘Retrospective’) and a disc of ten newly recorded pieces from 2007. One of the first aspects of mystified’s music that jumps out at the listener is that Park seems to understand the potential of noise of whatever species to communicate mood and ambience, and that his pieces are very carefully constructed around this idea and he uses his materials to very excellent effect. In fact, I would even go so far as to say that the material speaks to him in some arcane manner and in turn he communicates with them, in an effort to comprehend their very nature and to tease out their fullest potential and in that sense he can be said to be a true artist. The sounds used on here comprise everything from radio-static type noise, treated field recordings, percussion and even a piano, in fact anything that can be used as a weapon in his sonic arsenal.
Park has the ability to weave tales and moods around the titles of his pieces with just the right noise and song structure, for instance, the very first track on Disc one, “Accident Investigator” with its insistent road-drill noise and laboured breathing speaks volumes and brings to mind scenes of emergency services extricating injured people from mangled machinery. “Eerie A”, again on Disc 1, is an alien swamp in the small hours, inhabited by coldly chirping and droning insects and haunted by a banshee malevolence while further along the disc we get “Machine Breath”, giving life to pulse-less circuits and muscle-less iron and steel and spinning motion and presence out of a minimalistic tapestry of sounds. But I have to say that my favourite track on this first disc is “Spider’s Ladder”, the piano refrain instantly conjuring up images of some arachnid dancing up and down a silken thread in a musty old home somewhere, an exquisite little piece that menacingly captures that image absolutely perfectly.
Moving onto the new material on Disc 2, “Suspension”, it’s immediately apparent that Park has lost none of his drive to experiment and evolve his music further. There’s much more of a coldly electronic ambient feel to this one, nevertheless there’s a variety of treatments on display here from tribal glitch (“Aquiver C”) to icy cold alien atmospherics (“Vogue On”; “Suspension”) and yet again from the noise drone engines of “Zogwave 3” to the eerie ghostly insect-ridden ambience of “Moon Bog Edit”; consequently there is more of a unifying thread running through this album than ‘Retrospective”. Park still weaves his sonic magic with a deftness and intelligence that should be a lesson to many an artist out there, that understanding what you’re trying to do and how you use what is at your disposal to achieve it is of vital importance to your art.
This is one of those times that brings home to me why I enjoy what I do so much – that in amongst the dross and muck you eventually find the gem that makes it all worthwhile. Discovering the music of mystified has indeed been one of those exquisitely lucky strikes for me.
"Instability" (Ambolthue, 2007)
Having previously reviewed mystified’s ‘M’ two-disc set I was expecting good things of this CD and once again I was not to be disappointed. Thomas J. Park’s expertise in handling and understanding noise and sound were similarly very much in evidence as they were on the ‘M’ release, and his unerring ability to create stories, moods and atmospheres with just a few well-chosen sounds and treatments is as strong and as well-developed as ever.
Parks works with a broad palette, utilising everything from cold icy ambience and environmental sounds, to glitchy rhythms and treated sounds, all carefully pieced together to achieve the right effect, as any artists worth the epithet does. The treatment is often minimalist, but it’s the accumulative effect that brings it all together and imparts the impression of complexity. Swoops, drones, whistles, repetitive rhythmical figures, voices, birdsong, whooshes, and jet engines, in themselves mundane, familiar and unremarkable, when extrapolated from their natural surroundings and contexts, and then treated, transformed, mutilated, stretched, distorted, chopped and changed and finally layered together with sounds not normally associated with them, take on a wholly different meaning, leading us to listen anew. This is Parks’ innate speciality, his sonic wizardry, but unlike the one in Oz this particular wizard doesn’t obfuscate with knavery or trickery – it’s a genuine magical talent.
Take the ‘Brannon Construct’ suite – vast engines and machines defying the human scale, going about their mysterious and autonomous business without reference to mankind. Or the ‘Red Pink and Blue’ twosome, created in conjunction with the UK’s Ghoul Detail, minimalist backgrounds with highlights of even more minimalist drones and burbles overlaid, an impersonal inspection from a cold impersonal electronic gaze. Other highlights: the swirling grating of the title track like some hungry bug waiting to feed on you; the looped glitch beat of ‘Particles’ as atoms like tiny birds gyrate and dance; and finally the quiet ebb and flow of ‘Chirps and Oscillations’, shortwave fluxes set against a tribal rhythm, a broadcast from some far-flung outpost of civilisation.
Once again Parks has woven his magic spell, weaving tales from the warp and weft of the sonic materials at his disposal, and entrancing us with the alien, the weird, the grotesque and the bizarre. This is one story I’ll continue to want to hear again and again.
"Cobweb Kingdom" (Phage Tapes, 2007)
mystified is an artist that I’ve been enjoying watching develop over the years. The brainchild of Thomas Park, he has been exploring multiple genres including industrial, ambient, and drone, as mystified since 2003. Amongst his prolific back-catalogue mystified has shared releases with artists such as Bonemachine and Ghoul Detail, and had collaboration with Robin Storey of Rapoon fame.
Cobweb Kingdom, taken as a whole, seems to have an air of melancholy to it. The cover art is a photo taken in a cemetary and the music of the tracks on this CDR have something of a sullen tone. The pulsing drone behind album opener Shipwash lulls the listener into an almost hypnagogic state while the other layers of sound penetrate deep into the psyche. The affecting nature of the first track continues throughout the release. Unafraid to a range of compositional skills, this CDR ranges from the ultra-minimal Distant Alarm to the short and sweet ambience of Kind of Purple. Each track on the CDR is skilfully crafted and reflecting of Mr. Park’s growing experience.
Cobweb Kingdom is yet another strong showing from mystified. It could serve as an excellent introduction to this prolific artists work or for Mr Park’s growing fan-base this is a good addition to the collection. Any fans of drone and ambient music will find something to enjoy here. Add in the attractive artwork and the strictly limited nature of this release (ltd edition of 50) and you have a real collector’s piece here.
"Mystified Versus Rabbit Girls" (Roil Noise, 2007)
It’s true what they say you know: you spend ages waiting for a bus and then three come along at once. This truism can also be applied to my experiences thus far with the noise outfit known as mystified; prior to my becoming a journalist here at HH I had heard of them but not actually heard them. This 2x3” CDr split with Kansas City’s Rabbit Girls is indeed my third encounter with the sparkling music of Thomas J. Park in about two months and once again his disc is chock-full of his tales of the utterly fantastic and weird, all told with his usual invention, imagination and wit.
However, before I venture any deeper into mystified’s half of the split I shall concentrate on the less familiar (at least to me) Rabbit Girls, an outfit that describe themselves biographically thusly on their MySpace profile: “The Rabbit Girls started sometime in 1995 as an ongoing noise & rhythm project. No other details are available so it’s up to you to decide what it’s all about.” This is what I think they’re about: They inhabit much of the same sonic landscape as mystified, with hints of cyclopean technology and infernal contraptions, but the sound is denser, noisier, less controlled and a great deal grainier. Hints of looped rhythms peep out from amongst the grind and blusteriness, deeply buried in the mix. The story here though is one of devastation, the wilful destruction of our only planetary home by the twin beasts of Mammon and Industry with their constant and insatiable appetites – the machines and wheels must be kept turning and the hunger must be sated. There’s a sense of the overwhelming disregard and unfeeling ruthlessness of both Big Industry (and its concomitant Capitalism) and Big Government (the lackey of the Big Corporation) in their unbridled chase for more fuel for the ever-hungry engines of commerce and manufacture. The relentless grind and despoliation are evident and keenly felt; the juggernaut has been sent on its irrevocable and destructive course.
mystified on the other hand, shine a torch on a different side to technology and science. It’s still the same Big Science, Big Technology and it’s still on the same massive scale encountered on the Rabbit Girl’s disc, but somehow less antagonistic, less intrusive and less malign in intent; certainly compared to the RG contribution it is a lot more benign and less violent. It’s definitely considerably less threatening and has more of an organic feel to it overall. I feel that here the story is maybe more of a symbiotic relationship, that with the help of science and technology, in alliance with nature, our species can build bigger and better, and consequently achieve more and lead healthier lives; or maybe that’s just a specious line of reasoning. But it does seem to be saying that even though technology and science can indeed overwhelm and dwarf us it need not actually intimidate us. Yes there are the machine noises and mechanical beats, a trademark of Park’s work, but there are also more organic and natural sounds taking part as well, like bubbling water for instance (‘Waters Edge’), inhalation, exhalation and voices (‘Beginnings Revealed’) and even a track like ‘And So It Happened’, despite the spastic electronic jerkiness, elaborates something more human and identifiable.
In the end though, it’s all subjective – I just attempt to let the sounds and music trigger a chain-reaction of ideas and images, and then I react to whatever emerges. mystified’s music has a habit of sparking things off immediately on contact, and I can almost feel the neurons firing off like ephemeral constellations of light as I listen – and that’s why I like his work so much. I also liked Rabbit Girls’ efforts too, but in a different, much more primal, way; and the contrast evident between the two acts can’t have done either any harm – if anything quite the opposite. It’s that very contrast that ultimately underlines the strengths of the other’s work and underlines the intent of each. There’s another thing that they say which can be a truism: small is beautiful – in this case they certainly got that right.
"FM" (N.Strahl.N and mystified) (Roil Noise 2008)
This record is a collaboration between N.Strahl.N and mystified. Their label website said they are remixing tracks by each other, however after listening a couple times I am not sure whether this is accurate or not. Things just don’t seem to add up to that. These do not feel like remixes, but like original tracks, but it is hard to tell with this kind of music.
The first half of the record is from Germany’s N.Strahl.N. It is very dense literal industrial. I mean it sounds like opposing armies of sheet metal soldiers fighting in a ironworks. It lacks definite rhythm for the most part, but sprinkled throughout are little bursts of beats. FM 4 especially has beats. It makes me think of little animals having a dance party underground. FM 5 is alkso very rhythmic and has a burst of vocals (I think) at the very end. One thing I could not figure out about these songs is their titles, FM 1 –5. what is that about?
The second half of this record is by the United States’ mystified. I like this half a lot more than the first half. It is full of big dancy almost club beats, although I am sure it would frighten away the dancefloor at any real club, I would love to hear this on a big sound system. Throughout the tracks there is also an underlying ambience that radiates a warmt that is rather uncommon in noise music. I hear a lot of water sound in this, but that is probably just me. I hear water in everything. “Beat A Pattern” has a sound like power4 tools getting together to drink and make music. “Metal Log” made me think of cicus animals trapped in a factory. “Fore Versus Aft” reminded me of when I used to ride freight trains to the point that I am almost sure it sampled a train. All in all a quality recording.
I recommend the first half of this CD for sleeping, and the second half for waking up. This release is well worth tracking down if you are a fan of traditional industrial.
--Bryan Babylon, 2008
"Displaced Assemblage" (Bone Structure, 2007)
mystified hails from St. Louis, Missouri, and has been pumping out his varied takes on drone/ambient music at a frantic pace during the past few years. With over one hundred release’s under his belt, it always amazes me at the quality and variation of his work. Sometimes you get extremely minimal uplifting drones laced with beats, sometimes you get thickly layered, bass heavy fare that verges on dark ambient or minimalist industrial music. “Displaced Assemblage” tends to fall into the later, with hints of the prior. His use of field recordings being digitally manipulated also plays a large role in his sound.
The disc start with the eerie “Shortwave Chamber”. Several layers of dense and static-ridden shortwave radio recordings are layered in a tremolo driven rhythm, with male and female voices fading in and out of the mix. The use of shortwave radio is very apparent throughout the album, either being used in an obvious way like this track, or used as a tone generator for the many start drones of the album. “Evaporate” includes the best use of field recordings in my opinion. Distant hums, and the faint sounds of water can be heard, while the sounds of birds calmly chatting fades into the forefront. The track very slowly morphs into a locked rhythm of the bird calls, bass drum, and short glitch’s of the other field recordings to make in intricate static-laced beat. It’s a very cool effect!
Out of the ten or so mystified albums that I own this one would definitely go in the top three. I love the sounds produced by shortwave radios, and they are used here in a fantastic way in combination with the processed field recordings. Although Thomas uses a laptop to process his sounds it never gets overtly digital, and sounds just as warm and inviting as many albums made on analog gear. The variety of influences and styles shown here should offer something to anyone interested in ambient/drone music, and this disc is just as good a place as any to dive into one of the best practitioners of minimal music going today.
"Subdialogue" (Verato, 2008)
Thomas Park, the sole member of mystified has been involved in the electronic/experimental fields for so many years and his constant efforts and hard work experimenting with sounds, give as result the release of so many releases, all of them having important connotations, due the maximum level of sounds generated here. Mostly of them focusing into ambient drone structures with defined repetitive patterns, which melds perfectly.
Thomas Park is one of such artists who through each album transform all subtle elements into a visual reality which must be experienced by all those who get his albums. with “sub dialogue” the structures are kept and the essence of mystified is submerged more into an extensive charismatic expressionism, always offering interesting patterns in the way as the whole 10 tracks are developed here.
To work “subdialogue” path is to penetrate in a dry, arid soil and to discover, wither flowers which slowly starts to open showing you to establish a contact with the most hidden organisms….so, is the perfect way to describe “sub dialogue” an album who offers you such nectars through drone organisms manipulated to generate ambient structures. At moments the whole compositions are so hallucinating because they are created through dissonant, improvisational sounds textural waves and tonal currents creating tensions that swell and drain and at moments as on “Steams” track you can hear some spoken voices surrounding the complete track.
In a track as “magic” the drone vibrations seems to be elaborated with an impressive dedication because it gives you a sensation to entering to a psychedelic voyage, a deep trance through such repetitive sounds. In other tracks there are rhythmic patterns, rigid static sounds, always surrounded by drones and such eerie scenarios dressed under abstract sonic elements, which are the main point when exploring this release. In general the album contains such high moments in which you must develop more and more in order to understand the whole concept behind a release as “sub dialogue”.
This album is a work and long process of improvisational material which was gathered by Thomas though many years. And now has finally released by Verato Project recs. The CDr includes an abstract colored cover. This is one of such releases who you can find so attractive if you are interested into dense eerie sounds. “Sub dialogue” is still available and ready to be devoured by you!!!
--Edgar Kerval, 2008
"D-Program" (Industrial Culture, 2007)
Thomas Park describes his project, mystified, as “very diverse, [having] spanned musics such as ambient, industrial, phonography, drone, and noise, among others.” Honestly, I didn't quite know what to expect from this description. It could've been a ambient, industrial release with a little drone doom influence, or it could have been a slow paced noise album. For all I knew, mystified's sound could have been anywhere between the cited genres. It turns out it was a rather nice mix.
The first track, “Bicep”, is a rather decent piece of droning. It consists pretty much of one note stretched all along the five minutes of its length, but the noises and ambiances surrounding that note make this track quite enjoyable. The atmosphere is clearly settled in the breath of the eerie soundscapes of Thomas Park's Missouri-based project; a project which, although active since only four years, already has an extensive amount of records released, averaging at more than 25 releases per year, not counting remixes and appearances on compilations.
One of the strengths of D-Program is that, from one central note, Thomas Park is able to form a beautiful, dark soundscape, capturing your soul in the essence of the music. With very little unpleasant noises, the composer manipulates the sound in a manner which enables some form or another of time distortion in the mind of the listener, isolating us in a still picture, a lone and immobile painting, where the only thing we can do is wait, and become ourselves part of the landscape. This strength, however, can also be seen as a weakness in mystified's album. By keeping a steady and unchanging note, Thomas Park makes the four tracks off D-Program cause some sort of ennui if listened to repeatedly. The complete lack of tonal variation is source for a certain lassitude that listeners may acquire after having listened to the album on a regular basis. But, in my opinion, this is proof that mystified's music is just that good. Listeners want more, and this is exactly what Park has in mind.
D-Program is a short release, and listening to it is like taking a tour on a small island isolated in the middle of a faraway ocean. However, that tour is worth the go, and unless you do not appreciate ambient or dronescape music, you will not be disappointed in Thomas Park's approach to sound, not only as a set of vibrations reaching your eardrums, but as a presence, one that stares at you from within and leads you step by step on a path to the unknown.
--Romain Bonilla, 2008
"Phantoms" (Jeshimoth Entertainment, 2008)
I am walking in a dark cave. There are two sources of lights I can see. One from the flashlight in my hand and one, much dimmer, from the far end of the cave. I can hear my footsteps echoing the wet and solid walls of the cave, along with the sound of dripping water, found somewhere inside this cavernous space. I am walking as fast as I can without actually running, and at the same time I am trying to analyze why these tiny sounds of fresh water drops and my own footsteps are making me so nervous. Maybe not afraid, but definately not calm. The sound of my own two legs makes me so uneasy because its echoes are drawing the shape of this long tunnel in my mind. The sound of the water dripping with such a monotonous rhythm are like stalking footsteps that are always behind me. I do not need the lack of light to tense up the enviroment. Thses tiny sounds are more than enough. But how come? What makes these tiny sounds spark my imagination so much?
mystified has been recording material since 2003 and releasing it in many different albums.On \"Phantoms\", Thomas park, who is behind the musical project, is conjuring ghostly images through these seemingly background sounds that gain power, focus and mometum and become the foreground. His cave, if you will, is shifting phases between a dense and cold bubble, where soft background noise echoes itself until it becomes almost unbearable through its countless mirroring, as in the track \"Rise and fall\". As hisses of wind combine and collide, a much more solid wall of sound is born. My mind races on through \"From the face\" as this great entity of sound, composed from millions of tiny fragments of high pitched shrieks is closing in all directions. Then comes these drops. Slow and drumming drops of water are heard and serve as tiny sparks in the great dry wheat field. The horizons of this massive shrieking wall are expanded violently with every sound of water drop, until the question if what I hear are footsteps, drums or merely tiny water drops becomes irrelevant. \"From the face\" leaves my blind inside a dark and burning space until it slowly fades out.
On \"Coming this way\" the harsh hisses moves back to the background and give way to huge and slow bells of droning rings. The ability to distinguish the foreground from the background can give a calming feeling of orientation and the knowledge that you know your way through this foreign space. But after a short while on \"Coming this way\", the background and foreground shift and mix. Leaving the listener lost in the foreign space that Park has created for him or her. In the climax of this confusion, the track ends and gives way to \"Cooler than thou\". The sounds are much more open and might give the impression of an opening. I picture myself getting outside the cave. The hisses were waves, but I'm still in the dark, hearing these towering bells from time to time. It's endless and suggesting that I might never see home again. Never come to where I have started this journey. It tells me that in small soothing pulses that I find among the harsh waves and I yield to that notion and just stare and listen to it's infinity. And then it's gone. And I am standing in silence.
Get this small album. It's an impressive journey and a great aural adventure. I am going to get some rest.
--~Oren ben Yosef, 2008
"Skywatchers" (Small Doses, 2008)
Ultra prolific ambient master and sound experimentalist Thomas Park aka mystified generated more than 30 records just this year, “Skywatchers” is one of his latest and explores the confines of Space ambient. It does perform the ultimate sound of spheres and outer dimensions. Music for astronauts and space travels through the unknown, able to bring sonic evocations of cosmologic amplitude. His inert spacious textures reminds one of 2001 space odyssey’s scene at the end of the movie when the protagonist starts his voyage, losing touch with this dimension and its forms.
Finest ambient that appeals a less programmatic establishment, not resigned to mere drone layer participation and infinite looping, “Skywatchers” adventure in the challenge of experimentation with sound and textures via field recordings and digital manipulation. Away from common norms, this is music for auralists wanting a different sonority and perspective.
First of all “Skywatchers” is a concept work anchored in the tradition of space ambient, for start the cover artwork announces this characteristic with the beautiful analogy of an infinite cosmic perspective, a silken paper with space like engravings conforms a visual play with the circumference from the CD, alone this gives an extra bonus for just original presentation. The music is minimalist ambient that ranges from very tranquil and peaceful movements to unsettling alien atmospheres. Each song is constituted by two layers that cross fade creating a third charged with hollow resonances, typically you’ll find each piece following this principle, a high tone marked with this quasi electrical buzzing contrasted by a undertone dark shimmering, shaking reverb that generates a sensation of upheaval.
A rapid association could bring certain abstract images and landscapes, perhaps something associated with some universal force maintaining the balance from all things, time and space curving endlessly in a beautiful yet eerie sonority. The music is soothing, especially organic in texture yet utterly bizarre and distant.
There is no rhythmic usage, or at least rhythm is just reserved as a result from the crash of the layers of sound, existing only as ultra high pulsations, buzzing and rumblings that should be considered more as part of the settled atmosphere than proper rhythmic applications. Same occurs with melody, it is there only if the listener is able to conceal its formation and existence, this is music openly subjective, ready to be deconstructed by the listener at will, leaving a whole camp of singular appreciations and particular visions on its components. Curiously, amongst the apparent simplicity, there is a high complex factor inside this music, as it does surreptitiously evolves or so it seems, the constant described by the layer resonance, mysteriously varies, hardly without we realize its transformation. This is aspect is certainly something magic behind “Skywatchers” and quite unique, making it a perfect piece of ambient music for deep meditation and introspection.
We have in here a vocation towards classic ambient music, out of the paradigm imposed by drone ambient and specified by countless other bands that have conformed a norm with this particularity. “Skywatchers” is an uncommon album, within the margins of space ambient it defies the norm too, its simplistic yet mysteriously rich result brings a strange aural magic and unnerving effects on the listener, leaves space for subjective incidences between him and the music, articulating a companionship that seems to be vague or rather forgotten by recent ambientalists, more preoccupied to induce on force their own metaphors than open the gates of imagination on their audience.
--Jack The Ripper, 2009
"Foiled Again: (Autumn Abbatoir, 2008)
Tuesday, September 15 2009 @ 02:00 AM PDT
Contributed by: Zenon Gradkowski
Mystified is the intensely prolific project of Thomas Park, Mystified is a minimal ambient project which has also spanned a lot of genres within itself such as, phonography, drone industrial and noise.
Foiled Again is a Minimal Ambient Noise release that at first revels in low level atmospheric drones. Track one Fuzz at the Edges starts with atmospheric sounds – drones and the sound of trickling water. The lovely sound of nature, a comforting sound, drones raise to slightly high tone, dancing around deeper drones; without trying to sound funny, a lead drone backed by bass drone; A nice ballet of three sounds. Warped Reaches begins a singular drone, complimented by a more tonal drone, beginning a pleasant meditative feel to Foiled Again. However eventually, there is an ominous distant darkness there which does not materialise, this is good the mind is beginning to anticipate, am I being foiled? This adds a noteworthy conceptual touch to the disc. Darkness lingers but is never full released at this point. On Underbelly; water returns in drops playing with the atmospheric hum, the hum changing in presence throughout the track. Mystifieds minimalism is strict in it’s limitations to the amount of elements used to create an atmosphere, but manages this without being boring. Static Surfer revolves a drone like progression around a low level static continuation, the drone surfs the static and it is good to see a relevant title/track combination. The static appears tunnel like in parts; the drone progression is the static element, never changing, wow, brain pumping minimalism. Pulsegrain; a tunnelling static of a different tone to...Surfer and deeper Tibetan sounding drone intertwine; the feel is subtle and steady, at this point. Things do deepen in sound, slightly.
Foiled a low level beat, static and an overbeat of static now shift Foiled Again’s operative elements, this is a more roots industrial percussion, not to dance to, but it has jolted the atmosphere into an oddly different yet similar purgatory. The static changes to offer a change throughout, is the static a loop of grain being poured to metal and pulsed by the beat, clever humoured titling. There is a metallic feel to everything, was there a title muddled up, or was I foiled again… During Artificial Surf; A sea waves like sound is punctuated by a looped tinny percussive sound, a weedy splash, or artificial surf? Brightness; percussive shimmering and looped hisses demonstrate Foiled Again's shift from a kind of plain atmospheric drone to a symphony mainly consisting of low level percussive elements, this track sounds bright. Sessile; the drone returns and shifts to the earlier dreamlike state of the album with a sessile melodic shift behind, both work well together.
Overall Foiled Again tends to use two – three elements, sometimes four to create tracks, what impressed me is I was encouraged to mentally engage with this disc, the titles and tracks actually work together. This is a disc made by someone who thinks like a true artist, they are not just throwing together abstract sounds and giving irrelevant abstract titles. Darkness never materialises, however this is not easy listening, foiled is an exercise of true restraint - marking Mystified as a strong project that holds the viewers concentration. Foiled Again also earmarks Autumn Abattoir as a label that has so far given strong considered releases.
Mystified - Science Fiction
Tuesday, September 15 2009 @ 02:00 AM PDT
Contributed by: Zenon Gradkowsk
Mystified's Science fiction starts of with Thomas Park’s trademark drones backed with a punctual beat; however Cold Radiance holds the radiating drone as a constant with the repeated beat moving from background to foreground. Park immediately holds true to form demonstrating the twin skills of minimal usage of elements and title/track harmony. The beat vanishes leaving Haunted Drone combine a haunted drone and atmospheric treble atmospheric shimmer. The drone moves in depth across the track to good effect, keeping the listeners attention fixed. Deep Freq takes the level right down to a rumble, that teeters on the edge of distortion, combined with the shifts in low frequency, the levels of crackle are edged slightly creating a dance between the two. Ten and Two takes over the distortion this time moving alongside a sharp frequency, distorted crackling is now taking prominence of Science Fiction the speed of the crackling changes alongside that of the sharp frequency; this shifts the levels of intensity well. The elements combined shift to such extreme that Mystified enters the area of power electronics for a brief instant. Moscow follows suite with an intensified humming motorized drone with the beat re-entering.
The beat remains sharp allowing the drones to mutate, the basic beat is dorky, timeless and funny, the sounds remind one how over motorized Moscow is vehicle wise; there are also nods to Kraftwerk’s Autobahn made here . Carnival Drone combines a carnivalesqe drone with backing sounds hidden well to an almost subliminal frequency, this shows a difference with a slightly more prominent ghostly darkness than other releases. Science Fiction hits unusually quickly with three elements that immediately make the mind think of UFO/extra terrestrial life forms, whilst continuing to revel in darkness. Spatial awareness is also shown in the timeframe to good effect, the sounds also sound like they are trying to communicate. Polar Midnight continues with scope of space but with a deep humming drone that remains in a limbo that is neither in the forefront or background. Happening gives a return of static with a shift in sound given by an airy wind like sound. Sustain offers combines melodic organ like sounds and dark channeled atmospheres to a wind down finale and simply vanishes.
Science Fiction is another well thought out album by Mystified with a sci-fi bent, sending the brain into overdrive, Blade Runner should have yet another directors cut, but this time with this as the soundtrack.
"Science Fiction" reviewed by Sage 1/16/2009
Anyone who is into drone ambient or experimental music in general and still has not heard or heard of Thomas Park, Mystified, or even his new project Mister Vapor, must have been living on one of the many worlds that this album implies. Its one thing to be prolific, its another to have a discography so large that one has to use the search feature on his discogs page to track down one in particular. Yes, while Thomas Park is quickly becoming the American Merzbow from the ambient genre, it doesn't seem that his fast-paced nature takes away from his ability to create artistically sound ambient structures, as even to this day, the majority of his reviews appear to come out positive. Popularity aside, Mr. Park is incredibly skilled in the minimal nature in which he composes, and one can perhaps attribute that to the experience he's gained through relentlessly creating music, and at times, simple sound, since 2003.
That being said, this (not-so) latest release, Science Fiction, runs the gamut from dark and drone ambient to death and rhythmic industrial, even briefly taking on the world of harsh noise. Mystified's primary selling point has never exactly been the world of innovation, but rather the ability to put together a fundamentally sound and intriguing story while using the most minimal musical aspects and rhythms to accomplish his goal. Science Fiction is an obvious story, exploring the worlds of the futuristic, spacey textures and spherical influences. Along with that story are some harder to figure out pieces of the puzzle, with non-descriptive tracks like Moscow and tracks named after specific drone styles in Thomas' mind (Haunted Drone, Carnival Drone.) As such, Science Fiction shouldn't be looked at as a linear conceptual story, but rather a collection of short aural non-verbal essays.
Science Fiction starts off as simple on a droning scale as any Mystified release could be expected, but quickly grabs your attention with a dancey, flanging beat. A gentle spherical hum underneath waves of breathing flow underneath this beat the whole time, which rises and drops like a tide, meeting its climax and end consecutively but consistently in time with the music. A minimal bass line enters shortly after adding slightly more texture to the music. This funky little groove sets the tone for Science Fiction, though its' fun nature may mislead the listener on what's about to come as a beat like this will only come again on one track. Haunted Drone will bring about the usual Mystified nature, spherical drones fluctuating with light static to create an aura of both solitude and cosmic melancholy. The track glows with the shadows of ghostly planets, uninhabited by life yet existing all the same, the very fabric and definition of consciousness being ripped at the seems by human realizations. Ghostly radiowaves being transmitted by pulsars and unknown sources, creating monstrously giant spherical interludes, a cosmic symphony, floating in the void. The desolation gives way to Deep Freq, which takes on an even more minimal approach, floating deep into the vacuum without even the cold face of planets to bring about the warmth of at least being near matter. That lonely nature however is cut quickly by the approaching madness and static in the mind of the listener. A high-piched drone brings about subtle harsh frequencies and voices that tempt the spaceman into suicidal revelations.
Science Fiction will go on to take on different faces, the reprising rhythms of Moscow, the percussive statis and teaming drone flickering of the title track Science Fiction, and the epic ending of Sustain all play vital roles in the story of this release, but we'd be criminal to spell it out and suggest a story for you to follow. Science Fiction is designed to be a personal experience for every listener, a quality that Thomas Park has long perfected. Science Fiction comes relatively simply packaged, being a minimal as Mr. Park's style but at the same time holding onto the playful nature of the theme and his sparse dance-oriented beats. The outer artwork of the booklet contains the track listing and label information on the back along with a wrap-around image of a machine eye or camera lens. The inside contains a semi-trippy red-scale two-page image of a spaceman walking through a lighted tunnel at the seam as well as the website information on Mystified. As said before, not the world's most innovative release in recent memory, but an enjoyable experience nonetheless.
Frigid Radiance (Triple Bath, 2009) reviewed by Rexington Steel 2/15/2010
I am at some sort of crossroads here. This album had a strange effect on my opinions about one of the most misunderstood genres of all time: DRONE. Sure, "Frigid Radiance" sounds good, but a work with things like attention to detail and depth like this one made me ask myself an important question: Why? Why is it that this genre exists? Is it because people have no qualms about pressing down a key for seven minutes and calling it art? Is it that the format of extreme minimalism allows for maximum delivery of a message, even if the message is only conveyed through the title of a track? And why don't people have a problem putting out all these "wind tracks" over and over not wanting to admit that its the same stupid sound? I do not expect any justification, but I just thought asking a couple of things might be a different way to credit Thomas Jackson Park with some nice work.
The key thing to remember when considering this album is that this guy is NOT a Drone artist. He is simply an artist. Mystified would not be where it is and would not be recognized by both the underground and even folks like SPIN magazine alike if the project would be a series of tracks only existing as lip service to a style of music that could not be more simple, yet at the same time, more dismissed...
"Frigid Radiance" is not too far a step away from all other Mystified releases at its core, because in a way, the album gives you THE CORE of what Mystified is all about. While albums aside from this one feature simple but stylish percussion, much in the Meat Beat Manifesto style, and others a reinterpretation of iconoclastic sound in film [Mr. Park's tribute to Forbidden Planet], This one is sound in itself. It's still drone, but the drones are meticulous, highly detailed, and substantial.
I consider this work to be the soul of Mystified. I think this was not Drone for its own sake, but a man saying in his own way, "This is the center of my art. From here, I can take you anywhere", but we know that artists in this scene are far more existential. This isn't a start, it's a space all its own.
Hypno-Strain (Tosom, 2009) reviewed by Rexington Steel 3/15/2009
If one should be looking for a great collective demonstration of Thomas Park's musical abilities, this is it. "Hypno-Strain" contains a wealth of tracks that show how varied the Mystified repertoire really is. Mr. Park seems to have made a real effort with this album to show what he's capable of, being sure to exercise his style prominently, but making the work unique [at least compared to most of his own releases] as well. Fans of this project will be pleased that Thomas has played on his strengths. If you dig minimal beats, ambient drones, or a more modern style of ambient electronics, you can find all three here.
Modern is actually a good word to use to describe "Hypno-Strain". Not only does one have the chance to listen to some of the vast soundscape material Mystified is so popular for, but also different modes of percussion, ranging from tribal, like in "Hypno Chimes", to a more trip-hop style vie se vie "Bug Episode". While these two tracks are upbeat and even sort of cheery, pieces such as "Gaseous" and "Rustscape" give the listener a more traditional Industrial-drone experience. So does the likes of "Harsh Strain", which sounds like "Gaseous", but creepier.
The last track is actually the fullest. There is a bass loop, a synth loop, kick drum, very strange and flat sounding hi-hats[?], a noise drone... and it goes on. Talk about going out with some class. No wonder folks like Robin Storey of Rapoon and Nigel Ayers of Nocturnal Emissions have been keen to work with Mr. Park [by the way, NEW Mystified 3'' featuring Nocturnal is recently out at press time]. So has Norss, Seetyca, Android In Motion, AON, Seism, C.P. McDill... The list goes on. And what cool list it is, and though lots of Mystified's releases are in downloadable format, there are one hundred and fifty copies of this album in particular.
Larry Johnson-- "These Fragments" (Darkwinter Records, 2006)
Thomas Park’s recent foray into the dominion of dark experimental music demonstrates that not only is he a master of beatless dark ambient drones but of melodic and strongly percussive dark electronic music as well. The title track “These Fragments” is a noisy venture into an opaque world of undulating drones thundering above subtle textures of electronics and samples. The aptly named “Deep Chatter” follows with the catchy babble of strong synth and keyboard samples along with heavy sympathetic percussion. “Backwards Remastered” is a cheerless, bluesy sounding piece with distorted guitar, sparse piano samples, and drum programming that give it an almost post-rock feel. With “Efreeti” the emphasis is on an assortment of repetitive percussive sounds. “Byzantine Time Remastered” is a dark, mellow composition with a beautifully simple minor-keyed melody, sad synths, programmed drumming, and brisk, ominous electronics flittering about in the background. What sounds like sound samples played in reverse set above layers of rolling percussion give “Feathered River” a surreal atmosphere. “Vacuum Grains” is a playful, abstract collage of thick drones, curious electronics, and static noise.
-Larry Johnson, 2006
Byron Kerman-- "Vagabond, Pirate" (Self-Released, 2004)
"Mystified's 'Vagabond, Pirate' is a Twilight Zone episode of bleak test patterns, fierce Martian storms, spooky samples, cinematic drama, haunted-house nightmares and ubiquitous background noise brought to the fore. It is the sound of steam-powered android servants clanking after their masters at a post-apocalyptic flea market; of a pulsing reactor core in the bowels of a society so deep underground that the sun is merely a rumor; of a dance club for catatonics in a fugue state; of a futile comedy, in which a Seismograph needle bounces up and down within a weather-warning facility, thousands of years after humanity's demise."
-Byron Kerman, Playback Magazine, 2004
Neo-Zine-- Various Releases
This band was formerly known as AutoCad if that rings a bell with anyone out there. They do an experimental industrial ambient electronica that sets the stage for mystery, suspense, and a peer into the unknown. This isn’t so overwhelmingly ambient that it’s inductively dreamy. This works more like a soundtrack, hanging around in the background adding a little something to the environment as a compliment rather than a coercive hypnotic. The subtle difference is that Mystified quietly introduces a quality to the atmosphere and lets it grow naturally from its present surroundings rather than saturating you with something alien. I like what they’ve done. It’s gentle but creepy, subtle but effective.
"Reduced" (Self-Released, 2006)
This is a very nice cerebral massage comprised of soothing dark ambient drones, found sound, unlikely abstracts, and scintillating noises. Everything is pretty much unexpected on this recording. I found myself always wondering what was going to be next. This is more a collage than a body of work with a determined flow of continuity. The pace is also very meandering. This is sort of like a tourists shuffle through a sci-fi exhibit. You go through, take a few minutes with each equally interesting exhibit, before moving on slowly to something relative, but not necessarily following a direct stream of progression. You are free to wander. This CD has a very artistic feel to it. I get an even high-brow feel from it. That may not be intentional. There is also something a little bit dark and sinister in some of these tracks. Others are fresh and clean as running water. There is a lot to drink in, and unless I did this track-for-track, youll just have to read about it in my overarching generalities. Id really suggest listening to, rather than reading about this one.
-Neo-Zine, 2004, 2006
Pointless Black Records-- "Cobweb Kingdom" (Phage Tapes, 2007)
Mystified is one of those projects who have a million releases and because of that, you’ve heard the name tons of times but have never actually heard any of the projects material, though that could be an article all on its own. This disc consists of 10 tracks taking up 50 minutes. The track lengths are mostly around the 5 minute mark with a couple exceptions. It comes packaged in a black plastic case with a photo of a tree slipped into the transparent cover. The disc is silver/silver with noise band aid stick displaying the catalogue number. Mystified’s sound would be called drone. There are a lot of digitally processed static throughout all the tracks while some sort of ambient pads waver in the background.
On the 3rd track, entitled “Dry Water”, the sound of water droplets is added into the mix while the static and distant drones do their thing. The static in most of the tracks sound like they’ve been run through a flanger/chorus or similar effect. Though its not so obvious, you won’t hear any of those air plane sounds that flangers are notorious for. It creates more of constant backing slow and steady rhythm to get lost in and clear your mind. A similar formula is used in the majority of the tracks, the constant static receiving a different treatment. In the first track of this disc, “Shipwash”, the static is backed with a filterish sounding pulse while some super quiet mic work, sounding perhaps like a radio lost in between two stations.
Those static drones don’t appear in every track however, “Kind Of Purple” is one of those tracks. The entire track consisted of a single wavering drone that alternates smoothly between various pitches. The 8th track, “Distant Alarms” is another example. This tracks mostly consists of two sound sources. One being a faint drone/pad oscillating in the background, the 2nd being an unmoving high pitched ringing. At first the ringing is very annoying but over time gains the same result as the static drones did in the other tracks on the disc, a numbing effect that allows you to notice some small changes in something that sounded unchanging at first.
The 2nd last track, “Horizon” perhaps treads a little too close “that flanger sound” not enough to ruin it for me. The track at first sounds pretty unchanging, though after you ears have had a chance to readjust, a deep bass drone can be heard singing in the background. Some of the tracks are almost ambient hash walls if that makes sense. They have much the same effect. The last and title track is one of my favourites on this release. It sticks to the digitally processed static, rising and falling in a steady rhythm, little chips sound here and there, somewhat taking away from the engulfing effect. The track begins to speed up a little, how reverberated flanged static can speed up, I couldn’t tell you, but you feel it. While all this is happening a drone that almost sounds like a car on a race track, going around and around loops, very distant and faint.
A very peaceful soothing release, I could see myself listening to this when going to sleep (not an insult!) because of its encompassing numbing effect on the listener, drowning out all other thought until you are still, lost, and content.
-Jake Vida, 2/15/2008
Andrew Quitter-- "Mellow Utility" (Ambolthue Records, 2007)
Here we have another album from St. Louis artist Thomas Park who has been churning out albums under the Mystified moniker at a very high rate lately. The first track is his typical "looped riff" style, with a continuous loop being put through different stages knob twiddling. The next three tracks are in a more drawn out, droney, melodic style. I really enjoy these type of mystified tracks the best. Track 5 is a barely audible bass hum. Maybe I would have better luck listening to it if it was on my stereo and not my laptop. The next track seems to be digitally manipulated field recordings that sounds like raccoons rummaging through your trash at your new house on mars. Track 7 is a nice heady layered remix of another artist (bco) with the all mighty "waves" that I have been seeking out lately, rolling in and out like high tide. Harmonic Interference is a perfect title for the next track. It sounds like two old rusty machines sharing information that sounds computer static to most, but sounds like a sci-fi adventure to you and me. The next track has an almost throbbing gristle feel to it, with the clunking percussion and whiny synth work. The album ends with vocal samples that slowly fade into nice heavy radio static (one of my favorite sounds). The artwork is simple but works well. I would like to something more creative in these types of releases but that's just me. Just because the music is mellow doesn't mean the cover art has to be boring.
All in all this is a very nice release. I think with less loops and more of the thick drones Mystified could really make some amazing albums. A louder mastering job would do wonders as well. This is a very cool cd to listen to while relaxing or reading a good book, but with a few small changes Thomas could be making excellent minimal records that would appeal to a much wider audience.
-Andrew Quitter, Dumpster Score Recordings, 2007
Gurdonark-- "Reduced" (Self-Released, 2006)
When they encounter works of art which show that using new media can lead to new experiences and to new consciousness, and expand our senses, our perception, our intelligence, our sensibility, then they will become interested in this music.—Karlheinz Stockhausen
Field recording dates from almost the invention of phonography. The potential of the new recording technology to permit an experience of and documentation for the reality of sound as it is experienced captured the imagination as soon as the imaginative leap of technology manifested itself. In its earliest uses, its utility as an ethnographic device, to preserve passing cultures and languages, became an accepted science. The use of this technology to "capture" birdsong and wildlife noise became a subtle art and demanding science as soon as the idea turned from conception to reality. A visit to the Yahoo Nature Recordists discussion group impresses one with the seriousness and high purpose of the literal recordist's task.
In the field of ambient music, however, field recording has served an artistic purpose which long predates the pronouncements of Mr. Eno. The construction of sound collage and the use of morphed sound as a substitute for traditional composition predates musique concrete, but perhaps had its first spring flowering in the musique concrete movement. As contrasted to "abstract music" this musique concrete would use sound samples in service of the musical piece, rather than using the musical piece to define the samples. This was not a new idea, of course, but it marked a departure from an accepted set of western ideas of what music generation "should be to be music." Movements rose and fell like palpitating beats of peripatetic hearts, but, over time, the idea of using sound as an experience of listening all its own became firmly entrenched in that set of varying genres generically termed "ambient music."
Field recording, a precursor of ambient music, thus also became its progeny. The formal and somewhat academic music which resulted from the movements of the 1950s and 1960s shared a mutual osmosis with the electronic music arising in the wake of the great steamship known as the affordable synthesizer. Field recording became its own grandpa, as ambient musicians discovered that the world is a sonic sample, if one merely has the invention and recordingware to serve as sampler.
Thomas Park, who records as Mystified, has proven himself a prolific but never omnipresent creator of solid ambient and experimental music. Field recording is part of his repertoire. This is not birdsong or preserved aboriginal music, nor is it the dry formalism of abstract sound collage artists. Instead, in his new album Reduced, Mystified explores the experience of found sound, both as a musical interlink and also as an experience unto itself.
Field-recording-derived works challenge the listener. They urge a departure from the artist/audience, concert hall/applause, and composition/appreciation mode of western music listening. This is not to say that this is an artless "anything goes" medium. Ambient music based on field recording instead is an open invitation to an appreciation of sound itself. If ambient music features any one religious tenet, it is that sound is an interesting listening experience because it is sound, an experience sans story. One can paraphrase the theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who suggested that, in a new era, we must live as if God does not exist—because God compels us to live in this way. Similarly, in field recordings the reader experiences music outside the context of traditonal dervied composition--and yet a trinity of composition informs the reader—a sense of what constitutes music, a sense of the aural context or meaning of the field sounds, and an experience of the creative choices by the artist in sample selection for presentation. The listener lives as if the music were not there—for the sake of musicality itself.
In Reduced, for example, the piece "Cuban Deli" features the voices and noises of a literal Cuban Deli. It's precisely the type of work that might get an ambient artist the ultimate reward of the lay sobriquet "that's not music, that's noise." Yet the sounds all have a curious musicality about them, imposed from the listener's preconception, and noises which themselves are not narrative acquire a narrative quality as the voices say words and the machinery gives rise to imaginative visuals. The pieces in Reduced, sixteen in number, vary from literal basic field recording of events of daily living to processed experiences of traditional ambience expressed through the mechanism of field samples. If "Filling the Tub" explores the hidden musicality of ordinary water flowing, pieces like "AM Stumble," "Dragging Time," and "Continuum" serve as "concrete" compositions in which the sound samples are welded into a themes recognizable to traditional (i.e., latter-day) ambient listeners.
A truism of this type of review is to write that "patience is rewarded in this type of music." I am not sure, though, that it is patience so much as the active listening ear that makes this form of music interesting. Unlike the 1970s constructs, this form of "background music" is presented with the very idea of its escaping the background and entering into an active encounter with the listener. Mystified's work impresses me because it is not laden with "important" (and ultimately cute and somewhat banal) artistic flourishes. These found sounds sometimes serve as unprocessed or lightly processed direct listening experiences, while others sound to my ears very artfully chosen to press into service as something ambient listeners would agree is "music" not "stray environmental noise." One gauge of the success of this type of music is the diversion factor—can the pieces hold the interest of the attentive listener. In the main, the pieces pass this test. The best either feature nearly "pure" field recording of noises or machinery or rather processed use of field sound to create more traditional "ambient music." Those at neither extreme, and in particular those based on human voice recording, do not work so well for this listener.
Reduced can be readily recommended, however, as it suffers from neither affectation nor pretension. The pieces, simply titled, literally "are what they are." They reward the engaged listener, and baffle the listener hunting for easy drones and titles based on fantasy novels. As with any field recording, the casual listener may, indeed, be mystified. But Thomas Park, who records as Mystified, engages the listener with experiences which, while not new, are freshly presented. Reduced plumbs the waterways of pure sound—and the intrepid sailor may wish to join Mr. Park in filling this particular bathtub of sound.
Smother-- Various Releases
"Double EP" (Latex Records, 2005)
Dark ambient outfit Mystified is mystifying in both their technique and ultimately their production’s delivery. His music is odd and angular often existing in a seminal and primal state of being floating high on clouds above. Ambient music hasn’t been this intriguing in quite some time. Both parts of the EP are equally engaging creating an atmosphere that’s strange and a hybrid of what we’ve come to expect from dark ambient musicians.
"Reduced" (Self-Released, 2006)
St. Louis native Thomas Park is Mystified and he presents us with a very special record. Experimental ambient music that combines field recordings and phonography that crawls deep under your skin causing itches that are impossible to scratch away. Eerie textures are blended well with production that is top notch. . . Ambient music often finds itself with yawning audiences who yearn for something to latch onto, “Reduced” however is the polar opposite. Surprisingly engaging for an occasionally dark ambient field recording album, “Reduced” is an absolute must-have. Noise enthusiasts: you do NOT want to miss this album.
-Smother 'zine, 2005, 2006
Vital Weekly-- Various Releases
MYSTIFIED - INSTABILITY (CDR by Ambolthue)
MYSTIFIED/ORIGAMI STATIKA - WRATH OF GAWD/QUALITY BONES (CDR by Krakilsk)
Despite the fact that Mystified has a website, we don't learn much about the band, except that they released quite a lot of material, and that one of their releases has a remix by Robin Storey, a.k.a. Rapoon. I think I wish I didn't know this. The simple reason is that I was already thinking that Mystified sounded a bit like Rapoon, but even more like the old Zoviet*France, the area when Storey was still a member. But perhaps now everyone thinks I made this up after reading about the remix. Well, either way, I was and still am a big fan of the old zoviet*france stuff, and especially their longer works, I think Mystified with their somewhat shorter approach, leaps the big gap that has been there for many years now, quite nicely. Rough, sketch like, psychedelic, partly rhythmic (more techno than ethno), this is quite a nice release, stirring good memories and offering new ones.
More Mystified can be found on a split CDR with Origami Statika, which here is Swamps Up Nostrils and Resin. It starts out with two nice pieces of heavy layered guitar sounds, but in 'Yahwehs Revenge' it's all out noise, which is a pity. So more Sunn O))) like excursions would have been nicer. The best piece is the next one 'Sunday Jam', an excursion into highly controlled feedback, which slowly falls apart. Perhaps a bit long. Then we get nine short pieces by Mystified, which seems to find their sources in treating acoustic objects. They are looped around to create small particle like sounds, densely shaped and quite organic. Here the zoviet*france is gone, and they go along the paths of Jeph Jerman and Kapotte Muziek, although Mystified uses more electronics to treat the sounds. Occasionally the leap into a rhythm and that sets them apart from the more musique concrete oriented counter parts.
MYSTIFIED - SOOTHGRAINS (CDR by Dim Records)
The Netherlands' smallest label, perhaps, is Dim Records, run by our Steffan de Turck, otherwise known as Staplerfahrer. His releases have a deliberate low level look and come in editions that is usually not more than two handfuls. Mystified have been greeted before in these pages, and on their new release they extend their blend of sampling even further. They seem to be doing all: techno rhythms, ambient and noise. Everything is thrown in that sampler of theirs and things groove around - well, of course not in a way that will make your feet move, but in a way that will make your feet tap or your head nod. Head nod music was a category some sort distributor once used to lump this kind of music in and indeed Mystified are head nodders. I can even imagine them making a nice 12" of alternative dance beats some day. The first signs of that have arrived.
MYSTIFIED - MELLOW UTILITY (CDR by Ambolthue)
More from Mystified, who are a mysterious lot (or just one, who knows), who are getting more and more busy with new releases. Here is another one on Norway's Ambolthue label. It's always a bit hard to say when stuff was recorded and how new releases should be placed on a time line of development, but this new Mystified moves (unfortunately) away from the previous proto techno rhythms and stays along the ambient industrial lines of the releases that I heard which came earlier. Minimal soundscapes, built around samples and synthesizers, with throughout not much development, but which are throughout very pleasant to hear. Nothing exciting new, but certainly well entertaining, this more noisy version of Zoviet*France, but it would be nice to see them explore the techno side a bit more.
MYSTIFIED - LOWER (CDR by Krakilisk)
From Mystified we have reviewed several releases,
and most likely there is much more we don't know about. It's an one man project of one Thomas Park. The title seems to me the programm of the CD: lower as in the lower regions of the tonal spectrum. The CDR opens up with a bunch quite similar pieces of dark ambient - the lower spectrum made audible with field recordings and/or synthesizers, albeit of a digital nature. But there is more to that. There is also a piece which evolves around a bass drum, which is quite nice (I remember thinking that Mystified should explore the rhythm road more) and some that are slightly more experimental. Maybe it's a bit too conceptual this one and one could wish for some more high end tones, and that those should not be on the next release called 'Higher'.
MYSTIFIED - D-PROGRAM (3"CDR by Industrial Culture Records)
The new Industrial Culture Records label releases all sorts of experimental and industrial music, and the noise part went to Jliat and the 'softer' (ambient, drone) side landed on my desk. The omnipresent Mystified, also know as Thomas Park, selected (2007 !!) discography counts twenty titles, and that doesn't include the 'Lower' release, reviewed a week ago. Eat your heart out, Merzbow. The four pieces on 'D-Program' are all to be found on the lower, drone ambient side of the musical spectrum. Machines humming, field recordings or pitched down samples: whatever the input may be Mystified delivers some fine work in a known modus operandi. The rhythmic aspects of his work, which was detected some time ago, is entirely gone here, which is a pity, since that proved, I think, a possible way out of the somewhat dead alley of ambient drones.
MYSTIFIED - UNCANNY (Cassette by Heavy Nature Tapes)
Mystified is a name that popped up before in these pages with their curious mix of low resolution samples and electronics. Sometimes they play a more rhythmic card - although not enough in my opinion - and sometimes moody textured music. Here the latter plays the main role. The tracks are alright, nothing new here for Mystified, although a bit more variation would have been nice. (FdW)
-- Franz de Waard, 2007, 2008
Sothzine-- "Waves And Secrets" (Benekkea, 2006)
Waves of sounds flow through your ears, dark as a night can be. And secrets between them, mystifying the tree ? : ). Waves & secrets reminds of the most ambient works of Death in june and The moon lay hidden beneath a cloud, it comes in the same spirit. Nocticula and Mystified collaborated for producing this album, which is very intersting in the sense that it carries a lot of sentiments that will make you turn these sounds into images. Their sound seems like emerging from lost times, a past darkened epoch of sadness when people wasn't that happy : ).
Five Broadcast-Based MP3s from Thomas (Mystified) Park
There’s no didgeridoo on the five-track album Altered Signals by Mystified (aka Thomas Park), but there may as well be. Much of the music heard here has the slow, otherworldly onomatopoeia of that aboriginal device. The collection opens with the title cut: the crackle of data, the ping of noises echoing in a long, narrow chamber. Then comes “Bell Cloud,” which is all industrial chatter. In “Vocal Tremors” you can hear the deeply submerged speaking amid the crumpled metal. “Octavepus” is a heavenly drone, a kind of android Tuvan singing. And “Science of Change” is like some unimaginably large prayer bowl, its resonance echoing at an extravagantly sedate pace into the distance. According to the set’s release notes, much of the source material originated in some form of broadcast, suggesting there was already some aural decay at work before Park got his hands on the elements from which Altered Signals was built. More info at the website of the releasing netlabel, darkwinter.com, and at Mystified/Park’s mystifiedmusic.com.
-- Marc Weidenbaum, Jun. 30th, 2008
Fuktmp3 Blog-- "Altered Signals"
Thomas Park is an American from Saint Louis, Missouri, very connected to the obscure music in her most beautiful form: Dark ambient. Not just this: Thomas is very connected to other sub-genres too, like noise and drone, and frequently is found listening to new bands or artists, and motivating another people (like me, for example) to try to create music like this. I confess that i didn't have faith on the beggining, but I tried an now I'm learning how to create such sounds.
Mystified is his main project. First, I feel forced to talk about an attitude of Thomas and the label Dark Winter, wich are releasing albums like major labels (with covers and everything else), but also let them all free to download, even in the label's site. This is a respectable and admirable attitude, that should be followed by other people. Altered Signals is the most recent album, released a few months ago. Incredible how we can percept different musics with similar structures. "Altered Signals" is full of strange and recurring sounds, something like a rain of iron without heaviness (?!?!), with a heavy and dark atmosphere behind. "Bell Cloud" stay on the same way, but not so tense, and mixing dark with relaxing atmospheres at the same time. If I believe in aliens, I could say that the voices on "Vocal Tremors" belong to them. "Octavepus" is distressing! Try to imagine someone running in slow motion. Get it? Transform this to audio! The slow atmosphere that becomes slowly fast gives a feeling of anguish, but nothing like face her! And now, the big moment! More than a half-hour in "Science of Change" can make you sleep or reflect, in an incredible slowly progression. If you have a good ear, surely will perfectly understand this!
-- Julio, Jul. 14, 2008
Mister Vapor Reviews:
Sonic Immersion-- "Falling Out Of Orbit"
I’m not familiar with any music of Mister Vapor (aka Thomas Park, who’s also known as ambient musician Mystified), but the fact that Altus (aka Mike Carss) has decided to remix two of his tracks makes it even more interesting.
Well, “Falling Out of Orbit” contains two lengthy tracks of 26 minutes each. The free form music is a beautiful match of lighter string pads and darker dronescapes, which evolves in a slow but consistent pace. It’s well-rendered, expansive cosmic music with a mysterious edge, which takes a deep dive into the vast unknown, nicely depicted on the cd-cover. This flow is sonic food for cosmic immersion.
The album is available as free mp3 download from the Just Not Normal netlabel, and in Flac-format from the Altus website.
--Bert Strolenberg, January 2010
Heathen Harvest-- "Astral"
Another odd little disc from one Thomas Park, the brain behind the relentlessly prolific unit Mystified.
This one comes with a new title, his new unit Mister Vapor, with which he has already put out a considerable number of CD-R’s already!! There is most definitely no rest for this man, nor seemingly an end to his obscure mysterious nature.
Like Mystified, his releases are mostly on mp3 or CD-R. His first release was audio-visual in the form of a DVD-R. This one was issued by the interesting Dutch label, Witte Dood records, who have many stipulations on releases, only one track, one word title, on a 3” CD-R, and that one track MUST be either 333, 666, 999, or 1332 seconds long, limited to 33 copies. With those rules in play, let’s see how Mister Vapor holds up:
Aside from Mystified, Mr. Park describes Vapor as “misty, hazy, mysterious ambient”. While Mystified would qualify as minimalist, yet still active electronic ambience, Mister Vapor is VERY minimalist, and relies not so much on structure, rhythm, or melody as sheer texture. Abstract atmosphere is the game here.
Anyhow, what this release, Astral, presents is nothing short of an amoeboid cloud of sound, starting out formless, and as it progresses, morphs into different faces, forms, and illusions before melting back into and rejoining the cloud. One song, 999 seconds long, represents a single ritual drone of subtle sound transformations.
In a way, this sort of bears similarity to some of the stuff I’ve heard from Dark Muse. Starting out very simple, usually a single sound and then stretching this sound out to its fullest range and capacity, transforming it into an ocean of shifting layers while slowly drawing in the mind. The same formula applies here, only I don’t believe it really is a solid source sound as much as multiple sounds drawn out of an echo. At the core of this recording, the sound resembles some sort of echoed chime, but later onward this echo is rolled around and round into a lush tapestry of vibrations, through which the original sound source occasionally shows it’s face briefly before disappearing back into the cloud it created.
One can definitely say, this sound is very alive! At its heart is a pulse, and a sentience. It rolls and wisps through your senses until at last you are enveloped and breathing its fumes.
For sleeping, meditating, reading, relaxing, or during whatever ritual suits your desire, this disc is ideal. This disc would surely appeal to dark ambient purists, fans of minimal/drone music, or fans of some of the more minimal work by Steve Roach, John Oswald, or Brian Eno.
Play on repeat for maximum results!!
Now I look forward to future organisms which may take form from the mist of Thomas Park’s imagination! Reflecting my feelings about Mystified, let’s see what he can do with a full-length!!
--Loki Helvete, January 15, 2010
Heathen Harvest-- "In The Velvet Ether"
Mister Vapor is the side project from Thomas Park of Mystified . While Mystified falls into the multi genres of dark ambient, industrial and drone, Mister Vapor seems to float in a hazy and mysterious ambient setting. Although only in existence since 2009, Mister Vapor has already released a steady stream of music. In The Velvet Ether is Mister Vapors release with Essentia Mundi, it’s described as “cosmic and dreamy ambient space music” and that description is actually dead on.
“View From A Distance” is a study in space ambient. A drone of ambient sounds, revolving and moving gives a feeling a cold and vast nothingness. The sounds are isolated yet dependent on the pitches and tones heard within. “Falling or Climbing” on the surface, seems to be a gentle if not peaceful setting; yet underneath there is a hint of malice and awkward anxiousness about it that is absorbing. “Missing In Ether” has a ghost-like ambience to it that gently nudges at our senses. “Lost But Not Unhappy” is a tense, chilling, celestial and divine experiment. It presents the idea of sound as a black hole closing in on itself. “Spiraling Winds Of Mars” is a drone of oscillating and swirling sounds, a little monotonous compared to some of the other tracks. This is vindicated by the supernatural floating sound of “Peace In Space”. The icy solitude and unearthly aura unite to expose the true sounds of a cold wasteland.
The beauty of In The Velvet Ether lies in the connectedness of each track. Separately they have their own identity, together the present a whole thought. Although the sounds are created from electronic sources; there is something very organic here. The primal feelings of anxiety, fear, peacefulness, loneliness, solitude and nothingness are expressed in each track. They are not though, presented in a way that is overly depressive or optimistic, they are merely shown for what they are; emotional states of being that come and go depending on the time and circumstance. Throughout there is a sense of being surrounded and embraced by the sounds that are made both literally and figuratively. If tones, vibrations, pitches and reverberation could hug you, I think this is may be what it might sound like.
--Viktorya, March 15, 2010
Sethmol-- "Warped Essence 2"
Glitch and Industrial are fused together with dark overtones in this 3 track EP from Mister Vapor, a side project from Mystified. It is a great representation of the sounds we hear around us every day. Each day a new symphony unfolds before our ears as we hear the birds and traffic. It is unique to our ears and no one will ever hear that exact performance again. Mister Vapor has taken that concept and added some foot-tapping to it.
This release is full of rhythmic loops and elements of Drone and Dark Ambient. The crossing of genres is common with this artist and he handles them well, like an ambassador to many nations eager to bring the edges of Earth closer together. These 3 songs are very enjoyable albeit ominous. Though you will get the urge to get up and dance, I wouldn’t recommend it. Odds are you will end up floating into another dimension.
Standout track: The Wrench In the Gears
Rating: 4.5 stars
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