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7 SE7EN 7 - Eye of God

Order of Melchizedek - ...As Death Gives Way To Victory...

Order of Melchizedek - Beeinflussingsapparat Mass

Current 93 aside, it's not often we review music from Christians. Darin M. Sullivan, a self-confessed Christian, has been active in the US experimental scene for over a decade. Alongside his own musical projects 7 Seven 7 and Order of Melchizedek, Sullivan has recorded with ? as Lithopædion and Order of Black Vision, a collaborative outfit involving members of Murderous Vision and Black Mayonaise. Sometime ago we received a package of releases from his own Ambimorpheous Recordings.

Eye of God, compiled from 5 years of recording, is described as "An astral voyage of one's own soul, delving out past the self, into the collective conscious to join us all, if but for a moment, in sonic praise to the Lord." As it says, Eye of God travels inwards as much as it travels outwards. Eye of God takes its cues from dark ambient but there's more than a hint of the German cosmic sounds of Tangerine Dream, and Klaus Schulze. The dark droning, that features much more heavily in his work as Order of Melchizedek, figures quite prominently here. From the opener 'Abyss (Intro)' with its swelling cosmic drone and scattered synth chords it is quite apparent that Eye of God is designed for contemplation. Nothing here is hurried. The second track 'Nailed' is sixteen minutes of soft synth layers punctuated, at points, by a swirling buzz drone and passages of silence. Thankfully, Eye of God is devoid of preaching. The titles appear inspired by Sullivan's personal beliefs, with a selection of sound samples chosen to reinforce his 'viewpoint'. The opening samples of the title track manipulate a sermon, before continuing with darker strands of reverberating electronics, above the distant rumbling textures. The same goes for 'A Death On A Cross' which samples some film dialogue before moving into rhythmic percussive clatter. The airy melodic synth work that appears here does veer frighteningly close to new age music but does lend it a more dreamlike quality.

Everything on Eye of God is expansive, none more so than 'Abyss (Ad Infinitum') which runs for 18 minutes with a lengthy buzz drone obscuring distant voices, which breaks into quieter electronic pulsations with fragments of treated voices sliding out on a morass of treated/disjointed voices. It's not all quiet/gentle ... 'Conviction' is much denser and discordant with harsh panning drone, and churning electronics. Set against some light synth chords the entire thing becomes much more cinematic in scope. The opening moments of 'Seeking Truth In Death' is taken up by a sample of a priest and child in confession. It moves through passages of crumbling textures before settling into quieter passages of whooshing and whirring drones punctuated by occasional snatches of voice samples.

The sparseness of sound manages to convey the vastness of the universe, while the use of silence and stillness reflects the insignificance of the individual. 7 Seven 7 shares affinities with the likes of Vestigial and others who look to the sky for inspiration. Rightly or wrongly, 7 Seven 7 find something spiritual at the heart of their cosmic dark ambient.

Sullivan's main concern is Order of Melchizedek and ...As Death Gives Way To Victory... is the second full-length release following the double 3-inch CD-R set Domine, Ex Audi Vocem Meam, Domine. ...As Death Gives Way... concerns itself with death, dying and the shredding of the physical. Unlike Eye of God, released under the name 7 Seven 7, ...As Death Gives Way... is a much darker release, minimal with sound confined to electronics and droning, that makes little use of spoken samples.

The long-titled opening track 'And Then, As Death Gives Way To Victory, I'll See The Lights of Glory and I'll Know He Lives' is wrapped up in melodramatic slabs of gothic keyboards, interwoven with a classical melody. It sets the tone admirably for this treatise on death. From then on it continuously sheds the keyboard chords and percussive layers in the form of rattling percussion and timpani drum rolls that appear on 'Golgotha 1st Movement' and 'Spiritual Euphoria' as it edges towards more abstract territory. That said the opening of 'Feast of Flesh and Blood' resembles the main theme of John Carpenter's Halloween but it quickly disintegrates into silence, reappearing as a series of quietly shuddering deep drones.

The entire middle section of ...And Death Gives Way... is characterised by some experimental drone based material. The rumbling, droning and shimmering electronics of 'Golgotha 2nd Movement' echo the slightly spacey sounds of 7 Seven 7. 'Hope Left To Die' burrows much deeper with shrill pierces and quavering electronics, 'Foreseen Conundrum' is much more torturous with an ever increasing series of sweeping drones, amid short noise blasts. 'The End of the Physical' which marks the end of the original version of ...As Death Gives Way... is like a little symphony on death. Opening with looped classical music, it gives way to a sombre piece of majestic chords performed on the keyboard.

...As Death Gives Way... was released with variations in the tracklist in two different forms: a private and public issue. This public edition features three tracks, including the original version of 'Distant Promise', not available on the private issue. The best of which is 'Lessons of Faith' that lets loose some torturous churning electronics punctuated by short piercing keyboard stabs.

Sullivan's sound constructions aren't too complex and while not formulaic there is naturally a crossover in sound between his different musical projects. Sullivan could really reap dividends by producing more varied material with more emphasis on editing a fact borne out by the live performance CD, Beeinflussingsapparat Mass.

The topic of Death reappears on the opening track of Beeinflussingsapparat Mass, a live CD-R recorded live at The Church in Painesville, Ohio on July 9 2008. With heavily distorted vocals Sullivan kicks of with a sermon like introduction namechecking the title of ...And Death Gives Way To Victory... over recorded bagpipe music. It gives way to the blistering harsh electronic noise of 'The New Minority', with lashings of distorted vocals. "Stand and Fight" commands the recorded sample. The distorted vocals continue onto 'The Blood of the Lamb' over sombre keyboard melody and wavering electronic drone before continuing with the reverberating electronics and cosmic effects of 'A Sickened Course', which comes close to the gliding electronics of 7 Seven 7. It gets progressively more rhythmic, with noise becoming somewhat rubbery, as Sullivan continues with a narrative around viruses. Respite comes with the 'The Magdline Whore', a brief moment of classically inspired sounds before returning to crushing and rumbling textures, and closing the varied set with the bagpipes performing 'Amazing Grace'.

Beeinflussingsapparat Mass is much more effective, bringing together the different facets of Sulllivan's output, with some power noise thrown in for good measure. Unless your interest has been piqued by the themes of Eye of God or ...And Death Gives Way... this is the one I'd go for, as it stands as a useful primer to the work of Darin M. Sulllivan. For more information go to