Ptahil Reviews



“What”, I screamed out loud when I found the new Atrium Carceri CD on my doorstep this week. “A new Atrium Carceri CD. Already!” In my memory Kapnobatai is only a few months old. Is time really going that fast? Time is plunging us into a void; it leads us on a path towards the abyss of death. The only thing that can comfort us is Ptahil for example, the new Atrium Carceri CD. This is another stunning album by Simon Heath. Ptahil takes you one more step beyond the boundaries of mortality. Dark evolving ambient. In 13 tracks Atrium Carceri takes you along the shadows of existence, tracks full of melancholy, sorrow and grief. Ptahil is the demiurge of the physical universe in Mandaean mythology, but was not able to furnish man with a soul. The world he created was a dark place. Ptahil’s father Abatur gave Manda d Hiia order to give man sacred wisdom. This enrages ptahil, who dislikes Abatur giving a degree of control of his own creatures to someone else, and complains bitterly to Hibil Ziwa the head of the Mandaean pantheon. Quarantine is the melancholic opener of Ptahil, dark but heavenly, beautifully sung by Antonia Simonovic. Then Simon takes you further down the entrance of his wretched world. From here on nothing is heavenly. The keeper of “Entrance” grins at you hatefully. Desolate slow motion melodies enclosing you tightly. Slow rhythms, bitter melodies and complex textures are ingredients to this atmospheric album. Ambient mixed with ritualistic and filmic fragments. You are being dragged down by depression of man. Ptahils’s universe is morbid but painfully beautiful. Simon makes this universe to something where demons dance. Music somewhere between Sephiroth and Raison d’ Etre. This exactly sounds as a Cold Meat album should sound like. Deep, dark and oppressively hypnotizing. A hallucinogenic journey through someone else nightmares.

 Heathen Harvest

Atrium Carceri, one of Sweden’s best dark ambient acts in existence, in my opinion at least, strike back with their new heavily concept-based, ensnaring, unrestful creation. Ptahil in the Mandaean cosmogony is one of the three beings responsible for the creation of the universe. A very fitting name, as this is exactly what every Atrium Carceri release does, it dips its fingers into the primordial clay of the unconscious, of the dream shapes, the outer planes, and haphazardly finds there the material to create a new universe, out of what originally appears to be non-existent, unknown, and perhaps a little frightening. So the best way to assimilate this experience is to fall into a somewhat meditative state, forgetting everything related to everyday life, and to let this curious deity carry you in a journey through its newly acquired domain. After a while the images take form spontaneously, naturally, and if they are enough they might even complete a piece of the puzzle. If not, the general idea is still enough to be fascinating. Taking the first steps in this virgin landscape, a female voice invites us further in, in a foreign language, with a melancholic yet appealing chant – it sounds Slavic but truth be told, I couldn’t recognize the language. The chant has a deeply ritual, religious character. As it vibrates, intensifying, organic sounds are introduced and we are led inwards with thumping beats, crackling sounds and horrifying whispers, by all kinds of creatures residing in the shadowy corners of this corridor we are traversing. Shadows made more intense by the scarce rays of light that fall on the rusted, metal doors and walls. As we proceed someone laughs ironically, at our slow realization of the kind of place we are in. The doors extend some distance away on both sides of the hallway, patterns of rust and mould forming on their surfaces. Faint moans heard from the inside, insinuate the suffering, the modifications taking place in each of the cells. It feels familiar, somewhere we have wandered many times, many centuries, many lifetimes ago. Perhaps somewhere we are wandering still, where we have left a significant part of us. “A Place To Call Home”. Reaching the end of the corridor, we find ourselves in a spacious, circular room, the only light emanating from a circular opening on the ceiling, forming a column of light in its middle. A moody, isolated melody greets us along with mechanical rhythmic sounds in the background, expressing the familiarity of the landscape intensely, persistently, and irresistibly. Nostalgic and calm, it stops to give its place to a ritualistic outline, enriched with organic sounds, drones and pulsating beats, maintaining the calmness and assisting towards an initial enlightenment. We kneel on the floor and look into the light, feeling the tangible darkness around us, and hear the voices of the past in our mind, whispering half-truths, lies, revealing just enough to make us want to go further. Into the “Observatory” then, a patchwork of activities taking place in the sanctuary, a small, stuffy room comprised almost entirely of screens connected to one another, randomly transmitting images of experiments, presences, buildings, rituals, untrodden paths and highways on the upper levels, once the heart of the domain but now unused, dusted, collapsing. The merging of time and science. “Your questions will all be answered in time”, a deep, hard male voice informs us, as we are trying to make sense of the images we see. He explains, while we overcome the preliminary shock and begin to see things with a different perspective, not so much as atrocities but more as necessary interference. We leave the room and wander awhile in the passageways, the smell of rust reaching our nostrils, the dampness and stifling, underground air permeating our every sense. The Memory Leak takes place then, a short, cheerless piano melody, recovering recollections of an early childhood, of the times when the Citadel was a place of innocence, and children used to play and enjoy themselves carelessly on the upper regions. In the whole recording the idea of the melody is linked to that of the reminiscence, like drops of strong medicine, administered in small, intermittent dosages. Reincarnation Chamber is a harsh ritualistic track, consisting mainly of moans and whispers, an unbiased presentation of the emanating battle between the different personalities in one existence, perhaps. The extremely painful procedure of revival, or toiling through a mundane existence, the aching, agonizing effort of the consciousness, to break through its walls and barriers, overcome the pain, and be reborn. After that the Path Through Remembrance is clear, our unmarked existence allows us to browse freely through our terrible past, to see what we were, and what we have become after the merging. We are approaching the temple. A similar melancholic melody lures us to yet another bare, crepuscule lighted room. Female forms sit randomly on the floor, their faces veiled from the eyes of the simply curious. They lift their heads a little bit, and whisper parts of the revelation to us, a heavy, reverberating pulse setting the tone to their prophecies. Now we are ready for the Kapnobatai, for those who walk on smoke. Whose spirit is exulted by sacred fumes, to summon what cannot be summoned, to walk the paths that everyone fears, to answer the questions that have no answer. Remembrance and alteration become one, drones, pulsation and melody unite to their alien, godlike chanting, as we proceed into the inner sanctions of the temple. They are seated in a circle. We proceed to the middle of the circle, their chants vibrating our very core of inner being. We breathe of the sacred fumes, sit there awhile tuning our energy to theirs, striving to achieve the perfect understanding, the perfect unison. Towards the end the tension is released, and only small organic sounds and the pulsation remain, to slowly bring us back from the exhilarating experience. Now we are Reborn, we walk among the inhabitants of the citadel as equal to them, a sensual, tribal drum beat wrapping itself around a distant tune guiding our steps, as we walk out of the temple. We catch fleeting glimpses of curious, imposing buildings, courtyards of stone and metal and intricate occult patterns carved on walls, as robed, hooded figures come near us and lead the way to The Council Of Seven. The lords of the citadel hold their terrible wisdom and authority in magnificent, ancient forms, and their hollow, terrifying voices are heard echoing in the darkness, in between solemn, concrete, almost martial drumming. Before we even have time to make out their shapes in the omnipresent obscurity, the Meltdown begins. A short, solid tech track, industrial / dark ambient if one has to label it, quickly discarding us Inside The Womb. Where all the mysteries are unveiled, and the truth projects itself in all its dreadful eminence. The melodies, the rhythmic patterns, organic sounds, machines, screams we have previously encountered ,exist here to produce an influential result. The slow, pounding heartbeat prevails, inciting terror and inducing sudden energy surges. Somewhere around here, in the end of the beginning, or the beginning of the end, the dream stops – the End Titles offer us a harmonious, dreamy synth sequence, the way out of the nightmare, the key to locking it all inside, somewhere in the back of our mind… Yet another seducing, intoxicating and restless expedition through the heart of the infamous Citadel. Difficult to put to words or objective thinking, I have only contributed here part of my personal visualization. This is such a rich and complicated experience, I am quite sure it will induce different effects on everyone – just like a good hallucinogen.