Black Mental vs Left Hand Path: Moon Disk
The title choice for Black Mental and Left Hand Path's Moon Disk is apt, given the mythological background the Berlin-based creators provide by way of clarification: “The term Moon Disk is a reference to the symbol of the Egyptian god Thoth and other Egyptian deities. Thoth is the moon god and the inventor of words, language, musick, and magick, among other things. And together with the Greek god Hermes he is the source energy for Hermes Trismegistos, the founding father of alchemy and author of the emerald tablets.” Even a single listen to the duo's Moon Disk reveals that words such as magick and alchemy say as much about the music as does the clarification itself.
As so little detail about the figures behind the aliases is available, one presumes that the two are content to let the Schwarzarbeit release speak for them. The release is very much a homegrown affair, as all of the packaging was prepared and assembled by Black Mental and Left Hand Path, and anyone purchasing one of the fifty CD-Rs receives a download of the eighty-minute release as well as a forty-three-minute, digital-only bonus track by Black Mental called “Lizard.” The two alchemists don't collaborate on the album's six tracks (seven counting the digital-only bonus); instead the pieces are credited to the two separately, such that Black Mental's spooky excursion “They Travel With The Wind,” for instance, is followed by Left Hand Path's twenty-two-minute colossus “Stagnum Niger.” Their musical sensibilities complement one another, however, which makes for a cohesive result. Both producers contribute dark industrial-ambient dronescapes to the project and excel at fashioning subterranean creepfests filled with all manner of nightmarish sounds.
Exhaling languorously, “Stagnum Niger” oscillates between rising tides of ethereal gothic washes and rattling electrical reverberations, and at times the music ventures into related areas, electronica among them. While black bubbles do, for example, burble to the cauldron's surface throughout Left Hand Path's “Formation of Stone Blocks,” a skeletal beat pattern also rears its head. The presence of a German speaker intoning throughout Left Hand Path's “Der Wert Der Arbeit” (The Value of the Work) sets the piece apart from the rest of the album, though the electronic squeals spread across its synth-droning surface also prove ear-catching. But perhaps the most memorable setting is Left Hand Path's “Triskele,” which closes the physical release with eighteen sickly minutes of woozy synth treatments and death-tolling bell strikes.
The material at times plays like a mental disturbance previously buried in the remotest recesses of the psyche but now audibly clawing its way to the surface (see Black Mental's “First Transmission” as an illustration). As unsettling as such a characterization might sound, Moon Disk is no prolonged exercise in ear-splitting noise but rather a carefully calibrated and generally restrained dark ambient outing. No listener will come away from the experience reeling in pain and begging for mercy.