Two artists of renown on the Spotted Peccary label have come together to create Anno Domini - an ambient work with religious overtones and gothic undertones. It's an atmospheric work with a capital A. Rather than being devotional along the lines of, say, Paul Avgerinos's albums this explores from a spiritual angle the light and dark inherent in all of us.
Most haunting of all on the album is the opening track ‘Kyrie’. This is a modern version of the Christian prayer put to music – incidentally, Ian Boddy's track ‘Aurora’ on the album of the same name is based on a 16th century Kyrie. Washes and windy sounds waft around male and female ethereal vocals that move gracefully across the soundfield. The aural effect is one of cavernous space, as though the voices are setback in a large church with echoey acoustics. Then the voices come to the foreground, and along with the music become more resonant and intense.
The music treads a line veering between light and dark. Imagine the gloomy ambience of a dimly lit church or cathedral where one's reactive mood depends on beliefs and inner life. The first four tracks feel monastic with lots of washes, subtle drones, and graceful effects like gentling tinkling glissandoes and bell tones. For the last few tracks it's as though we emerge from the inside of a building into the semi-light aspect of cloisters. In ‘Dona Nobis Pacem’ there's even rhythm and percussion played in a manner that evokes impressions of the mediaeval world. It builds to a climax with crashing cymbals, horn like melodic fanfares, and a male voice singing difficult to discern vocals.
Kudos to Martin and Verner for Anno Domini. Without knowing the provenance of this work it'd be easy to conclude that it's the work of one person, such is the way their contributions fit together seamlessly. This is a satisfying work from an artistic and sonic perspective, even if enjoyment isn't the right word to describe one's appreciation.
- Dene Bebbington, Melliflua