Rapoon/The Fires of the Borderlands

cover Rapoon: The Fires of the Borderlands
(Release - 1998)

The pieces on The Fires of the Borderlands, to me, conjure mental images of desolate places of natural, though foreboding, beauty... jagged mountain faces, choppy seas under cold, grey skies, lifeless expanses of tundra. The occasional inclusion of monk-like chants (no, not even remotely Enigma-like) seem to intimate a Tibetan region, perhaps.

The disc opens to the vast, slowly roiling sonic vortex which is Hollow flight. Strings accent the swirl, which seems to contain transmuted human voices. Rising and falling, the thick waves of Groundswell surge powerfully, yet placidly. Soothing, yet menacing, if that's possible. The sound of clanging bells seems to have been stretched and looped in Cires divam, and a lone monk's voice shifts in and out of the trance-inducing pattern.

Machine-like rhythms stir behind the Snake of earth; strange electric shimmers phase in and out. Billowing like a cloud, the processed voices of Omaneska swirl hazily to be underscored by a mechanical drone and string. This almost-14-minute track develops further as deeper tones well up from beneath while everything else fades away, creating a gorgeously somber valley of sound. Eventually, the strings return, blowing in like an icy wind cutting across a mountaintop. Deserted shadows is an appropriate enough title for the ominously quiet shades which hang in this atmosphere. Another machine-like presence develops, dispassionately pumping away, then fading in a high-toned haze.

Looking... not finding plumbs the murky depths of a distorted monk vocal and horn. Imagine a landscape painting with the shapes and colors so smeared and slurred around that the original forms are only barely perceptible. This track also, toward its end, incorporates an electro-mechanical drone, which abruptly cuts off. Circling globes seems to again play shape-shifting games with the human voice, elongating the sounds to unreal proportions and intertwining them with dark synth drones. Spooky, but lovely! The 3:32 Talking to a stick establishes a relatively rapid clatter and overlays it with electronic organ bursts.

Still, so still seems to be the confluence of two streams of sound; one a deep, droning flow, the other a cyclic female chant. These two forces flow steadily until in the latter part, tension rises, becoming louder just before dissipating. Perhaps the most straightforwardly pretty track, A softer light slowly gels. Simple notes (much like the standard clock "tune") are surrounded by a light haze, then a growing swell, which, in its final phase, turns almost musical before fading out with few final "words".

Haunting and stark, yet wondrous, The Fires of the Borderlands  casts a flickering light on some of the darkened corners of our world. I'm giving it a rock-solid One Thumb Up. (It's better than that really; would have been Two, but something about the repetitive nature of loops holds me back...)

For more Rapoon and other dark ambient sounds, see the Hallowe'en Overviews.

This review posted October 31, 1998

previous home next
  a-h i-q r-z