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Sheer Zed - Hidden Pathways

Hidden Pathways is the latest release from the artist and musician known as Sheer Zed, one of our favourite recent discoveries. You won't find Sheer Zed on physical product, the music of Sheer Zed is released digitally scattered across digital platforms. Whether this is intentional or a direct result of a lack of interest from labels I'd be interested to know. Whatever, we really rate the output of the highly prolific Sheer Zed. A practising Buddhist and practitioner of the Thai Occult, Sheer Zed doesn't make music for fun. There's no separation between the person and his music. Albums are functional, recorded and released with specific intent. The last Sheer Zed album we reviewed, The Thai Occult Road Trip was a travelogue about his travels in Thailand and his furthering immersion in the magickal occult system of Thai Lanna Buddhism. On that trip he worshipped with Ajarns, visited temples and sacred places. This time, however, he looks inwards. Hidden Pathways, his latest, seems constructed to induce an altered state of consciousness and ultimately to open the third eye as an entry point into the spirit world. A proposed 1 hour ritual consisting of three transfigurational hypnotic sound rituals and a fourth 15-minute (non-existing) track where the listener is asked to meditate in silence. That fourth track is integral and welcome following the onslaught of electronics, beats and noise it just takes a while to get you to that required moment of stillness and silence.

'The Multimensional Portal Is Open and You Won't Be Coming Back' swells from intricate layers of ringing chiming sequences, with a barrage of fluttering entwining rhythms followed by further harder beats and just when you think you can't take any more here comes another layer of heavier battering techno sequences, unleashing forward rhythms swarming into a repetitive attack of rhythmic noise. The barrage of rhythmic intricacies play havoc with your senses. It's hard to think, concentrate or even focus during its incessant delivery. All you can do is submit to the onslaught. At times I felt agitated and disturbed; I can imagine it triggering a panic attack on some. Those hyper pulsations matched by a heightened heartbeat rate. But perhaps, I'm just not spiritually evolved enough to deal with this. Later on it subsides into rolls of hyper rhythms with additional clanking and bustling, darting, battering electro sequences before all the elements coalesce into a chaotic climax of crushing rhythm and noise. 'The Multimensional Portal Is Open and You Won't Be Coming Back' felt like a cleansing ritual, I certainly felt different after listening to this.

'Perception Is a Reflection of an Infinite Connection' isn't easier on the ear either. Combining experimental textures with noise it unleashes a hurtling whoosh of drone, frequencies and textures. Underneath it all is machine like rumbling, scattered electronic processing and what sounds like manipulated voices. They might even be mantras. If I were to put on my noise head, I'd compare it to a complex contemporary electronic take on power electronics - with added chanting. And yet there's nothing overtly harsh or shrill just a wash of hypnotic noise layers, surging forward drenching the listener in frequencies and dense blocks of sound, obliterating any attempt at thought or concentration. It's almost liberating in the way it obscures any extraneous form of thought allowing you to fully experience the sound. This level of noise manipulation is like nothing I have heard before from Sheer Zed.

'Hidden Pathways Become Known from Whence the Deities Have Flown' opts for a rhythmic experimental structure; its juddering tones and hollow hammering beats offering a base for a series of reverberating atmospheric ruptures. It takes until the 4-minute mark before they begin to take form, glinting and shifting unhurriedly. Other elements surface coalescing around a storm of quakes that break and brake into grating shudders and stutters. Sheer Zed's music is known for its busy, intricate sound patterns but here the jabbering tones and beats carry on relentlessly with little in the way of variation or progression. It's the veneer of sound layers that propel this forward as they surge, shift and transform into strange shapes.

Hidden Pathways is a 1 hour ritual but only 3 tracks consist of sound. For the final (non existent) fourth track Sheer Zed humbly requests "the listener to meditate in silence". It's something of a relief, a vital and welcome come down allowing you to focus on what comes forth following the previous tracks. Intended as a period of meditation in which Sheer Zed hopes "new awareness, third eye images and other esoteric supernatural occurrences may or may not occur depending on the sensitivity and acuity of the listener and meditator". The unrelenting directness of Hidden Pathways is something different from Sheer Zed, an electronic musician I associate with intricate sound patterns and inventive electronics and for that this isn't my favourite Sheer Zed album but it once again proves the versatility this artist and musician can bring to sound rituals. I urge readers to dig in to this and to the other releases of Sheer Zed, an artist not afraid to move out of his - or even your - comfort zone. Hidden Pathways is released digitally available as a download on numerous platforms. For more information go to Sheer Zed bandcamp