Ronnie Sundin: The Amateur Heretic

What's The Amateur Hermetic by Ronnie Sundin 'about'? Hard to say, though the self-described 'visually trained artist and non-musician' cites phenomena both prosaic (moving to a new home every second year, feeding children, growing a beard) and lofty (occult references, religious doubts, The Philosopher's Stone) in his own explanation. More pointedly, it involves transforming a part of oneself (e.g., the voice) into something unrecognizable and alien, letting go of reality, and slipping into a dream. It's also about the four fundamental elements as well as the black monolith depicted on the cover (which isn't just black, by the way, but subtly displays some scribbly drawings too). Finally, it's about people (like the three historical figures shown on the inner sleeve) who use alchemy to transform themselves and delve into the secrets of nature.

None of which, incidentally, must be known for the album to be enjoyed—or perhaps experienced is the more accurate term. Of course it's not conventional music in any sense of the word but is instead the kind of provocative sound sculpting we expect from Komplott. No instrumentation is listed beyond Sundin's 'music, voice' credit, but, based on the evidence, one expects he's processed a number of field recordings and further doctored the results using electronic techniques to produce the 41-minute piece. It opens with five minutes of snoring sounds accompanied by distant thunder and incrementally building noise. After twelve minutes, the collected sounds abruptly accelerate and then explode, leaving frog-like snoring in its wake. Layers of sound again accumulate, rendering the piece hazier and more dream-like, until dense masses of crashing waves merge with the droning hums. The Amateur Hermetic grows ever noisier during its last quarter, escalating relentlessly into a churning, industrial monster which expires peacefully in its closing moments. Nothing like The Amateur Heretic has probably been issued before, which, for artists working in this genre, might be regarded as the ultimate compliment.

April 2006