Review: ἡσυχασμός - "δι' ἐσόπτρου ἐν αἰνίγματι"

ἡσυχασμός - δι' ἐσόπτρου ἐν αἰνίγματι
(2015 Self-Released)

Inspired by the Greek Orthodox tradition of hesychasm - a system of prayer comprised of careful repetition, silence and total solitude - δι' ἐσόπτρου ἐν αἰνίγματι is a cavernously eerie drone record, a mosaic of fractured field recordings and piano loops that, minimal as the composition may be, can elicit a multitude of emotions that stem from isolation. Act one of this tripartite dronescape, for instance, opens quite unnervingly, as samples of hollow, metallic tones form a rather surreal ambience, yet as this sonorous sample gives way to a slowly building wall of powdery ambience, this creepiness gradually gives way to comfort. The highlight of part one, however, is its beautiful centerpiece, an echoey piano solo, awash in reverb, that resembles are darker, grittier reboot of Eno and Budd's Plateaux of Mirror; with each piano key pressed, the listener witnesses the life of a droning note - it is born, it contributes to the composition and it slowly disintegrates, scattering its atoms into a cosmos of reverb. 

Part two's center of focus is still the piano, but its tone is much more clean than in part one. Despite the lack of reverb, a surreal atmosphere is still created through the manipulation of the recording, giving this section of the record some pluderphonics flavor. Act three is the album's strongest section, though, an amorphous drone of shimmering choir samples that gives way to a minimal coda played on the organ. A chiaroscuro soundscape that that demands attention despite its sparse arrangement, δι' ἐσόπτρου ἐν αἰνίγματι is a masterful ambient effort that by no means overstays its welcome at 30 minutes.