CD, Divine Comedy Records, 2004
An astonishing soundtrack album, “Tzolk’in” is the result of the collaboration between two very talented artists, Empusae and Flint Glass, who are well-known in the fields of dark ambient, rhythmic noise and experimental electronica.
Individually, each of these artists has been responsible for some very interesting ad critically praised releases, from Empusae’s “Funestus” to Flint Glass’ “Hierakonpolis”. Working together, inspired by a rather exotic and unexpected theme as the ancient Mayan astrological calendar Tzolk’in, their work reaches new heights of excellence and opens quite a few novel musical perspectives.
Musically, “Tzolk’in” is an extremely rich piece of work, of the kind that requires attention and careful listening to be fully apprehended. The music is as one would expect from any of the two individual artists, skillful and talented compositions. It is achieved by a blending of Empusae’s distinct dark, oppressive and brooding soundscapes with Flint Glass’ characteristic rhythmic and ambient compositions which are subject to an almost alien purpose and theme.
“Tzolk’in” can easily be seen as a very exotic soundtrack album to the phantoms of a dead civilization. Majestic and epic in tracks like “Etz’nab”, often martial and bellicose in tracks like “Chikchan” and “Ak’bal”, always dark and oppressive with a sense of brooding and sad tragedy, and at times even quite meditative (“Chuwen” comes to mind as a brilliant track here), “Tzolk’in” is not without a definite underlying feeling of threat and fatalism, which emerges at regular intervals with great intensity. Very likely, the music that one would expect would result from an inspiration source such as one of the divination systems of a the doomed Mayan civilization.
“Tzolk’in” is extremely immersive, should the listener allow himself to be engulfed by the music and carried away. But this is not immediate, there is need to make a serious and attentive, but definitely rewarding, effort to achieve this immersion and ultimately feel the music and what it tells. Despite being essentially a soundtrack album, tracks like “Chikchan” could find their way into dance-floors on their own or with little remix work.
An outstanding album, “Tzolk’in” is definitely worth of serious exploration and can also be a door into the discovery of the solo works of Flint Glass and Empusae. With a release of this quality, one can only hope that there will be opportunity for more collaborations of this kind in the future.
— Miguel de Sousa