Mystified - Primal Mystification
Title: Primal Mystification
Label: Hypnos Secret Sounds (Ltd CDR)
2009. Mystified is a pseudonym for Thomas Park, an ambient/electronic musician who lives in the midwestern USA. He's been prolific under the Mystified name as well as the Mister Vapor project, but this is his first release with Hypnos Secret Sounds. Most recently, Mystified has collaborated with Nunc Stans on a release "One Thousand Dreams" on the Dataobscura label, and he has previously collaborated with Robin Storey (Rapoon) and Nigel Ayers (Nocturnal Emissions).
One of the things we enjoy at Hypnos is helping expose listeners to artists they may not have heard before, and that includes even artists whose work has been released widely on a variety of labels. The work of Mystified, while elsewhere working with more pronounced electronic rhythms, here emphasizes deep, slow-moving textures. Primal Mystification includes subtle and restrained percussive elements but is definitely geared toward the listener who loves deep, thick drone work.
Mystified himself says of this recording:
"Primal Mystification emerged from drone sounds, similar to the way we humans emerged from the primordial ooze. Oscillating ambient bell washes were created using field recordings and mystical effect processes, and then simple rhythmic and melodic phrases evolved from the primal material. Sometimes there is a change or development in the rhythmic material, and always there are changes in the drones, behind, as they shift and flow. Primal Mystification is a musical union of form and formlessness."
Link to a YouTube videos including music excerpts:
Track 3, "Not Knowing Where" here
Track 4, "Back to the Primal" here
Hypnos Secret Sounds brings you Primal Mystification, our first release by Mystified.
Track listing, with mp3 sample clips:
01 > massive turning > 14:58 > mp3
02 > departing certainty > 13:26 > mp3
03 > not knowing where > 10:30 > mp3
04 > back to the primal > 11:22 > mp3
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Reviews"Brand-new list member Thomas Park has a very fine new album out on Hypnos' CDR sub-label "Secret Sounds", combining rather than merely contrasting light and dark, often ushered along with discreet, quasi-ethno beats."
--Stephen Fruitman on the firstname.lastname@example.org mailing list
"The fifty-minute Primal Mystification is the first release by Mystified (aka US ambient-electronic musician Thomas Park) to appear on Hypnos Secret Sounds. Park is no novice, as he's collaborated with artists such as Nunc Stans (One Thousand Dreams, Dataobscura), Robin Storey (Rapoon), and Nigel Ayers (Nocturnal Emissions). The four tracks on Primal Mystification are restrained in character and induce a state of calm in the listener -- which isn't to suggest they're uneventful, as there's lots of activity and detail on display. Likening the mercurial drone sounds to the emergence of human beings from the 'primordial ooze,' Park shapes minimal elements (some of it created from field recordings) into ten-minute-plus settings of placid design using ringing ambient washes, willowy synthetics, elemental percussive patterns, and simple melodic phrases voiced by piano. In "Massive Turning," elegant piano playing drapes itself across long-form droning tones anchored by a gently swinging rhythm track made up of acoustic-sounding percussive elements (hand drums, bells). "Departing Certainty" exudes a ghostly, even tribal quality in its crystalline swirls and cavernous rumble, while both "Not Knowing Where," its nocturnal whistling tones animated by a midtempo rhythm track, and "Back to the Primal," its ethereal shimmer augmented by Eastern-sounding percussive pulsations, are energized by comparison."
--Reviewed by Textura.org
"The idea behind this 2009 release from Mystified is simple: foggy drones glide slowly past, shifting and rolling as they go, while light touches of percussion lend a faint tribal air. While I stand by that as an accurate description of how it's done, I'll also tell you that it sorely downplays what Mystified (aka Thomas Park) is able to do and convey on this disc with that formula as his starting point. Primal Mystification is one of those ambient CDs that innocuously burrows its way into your subconscious mind, persistently but patiently setting up its space in your head -- and by the time you realize it's there you're really quite okay with it. Park's drones are warm, grey things that move in otherworldly waves. He varies his approach, track to track, to keep each of the four long pieces here fresh. The opener, "Massive Turning," takes its percussive sense from a gently played tabla, a sharp, solid and rhythmic snap over the wash. An echoing piano, played two simple notes at a time, wanders through. At first I found this an odd choice for a disc that's so drone-based, but in Park's hands it quickly becomes an integral element in the piece's definition. "Departing Certainty" is abstract, shadowy, beatless and a bit foreboding. It's the dream you can't wake up from. I'm intrigued by Park's choices of percussion in the last two tracks, "Not Knowing Where" and "Back to the Primal." The first has a hand-drummed feel, a fire's-edge rhythm with a strong tribal sense. I like the way he puts it up against a throbbing bass swell that, in its tone, is as unwavering as the drumming. (I'll get back to this in a moment.) The percussive element in "Back to the Primal" is two-pronged: a flangey and metallic electronic beat squares off with more hand drumming. It is the sound of the computer-age tribe calling back to its ancestors, perhaps -- and getting a distinct answer in kind.
Park drives home his musical intent in the form of repetitive motifs that change only slightly across time. Between the often-mellowing touch of the drones and the insistent metronomic pulse of the drumming, in any form, the listener doesn't have much choice but to follow his or her brain as it slides and sluices down into Parks' umbral constructs to touch the primal memory in all of us.
I enjoy this disc more with every listen, and the deeper I go, the more I like it. Primal Mystification is a Hypnagogue Highly Recommended CD."
--Reviewed by Hypnagogue
"Primal Mystification alternately conjures thoughts of settling in for the sleep of machines in the sub- rumble of a boiler room; the aurora borealis toying with the audible spectrum; alien conquerors come to claim their stake -- our echoing fear; finally cracking the door to the secret spirit realm; the day that machines gain sentience and blink up at their gobsmacked creators; and a group of motherless children beating out a post-apocalyptic drum circle in desperate hope. Truly, a sonic headphone journey that removes one far from the physical. Perfect for the Hearts of Space radio program, too."
--Byron Kerman, freelance reviewer
"The unbelievably prolific Thomas Park returns to us once again with a rather lovely full-length offering (as Mystified) on Hypnos Secret Sounds--'Primal Mystification'. Mr. Park's more free-form (or perhaps it is more appropriate to refer to it as "formless"? I refrain from using the genre terms "ambient" or "drone" as they have been over-referenced for decades) work often touches on something powerfully inexplicable and nebulous--magickal. This particular release would be no exception.
The album starts out with a piece entitled 'Massive Turning'. It's a bit deceptive if one thinks they have the Mystified sound pegged--as one expects gassy, shimmering atmospheres. It delivers just that... only it is coupled with an organic percussion that is unheard to me in the work of Mystified! An instrument such a tabla would have been too obvious, so what sounds like bongo is appropriate and more enthralling. Layered along with these sounds are also piano chords. 'Massive Turning' seems to be literal--a massive turning POINT in the direction stylistically. And it works like a charm.
Next is 'Departing Certainty'. And that it certainly is--a departure from the banalities of life into an almost hallucinatory, emotional transcendence. The piece feels like walking in someone else's shoes of their past , blurred and fading melancholia.
'Not Knowing Where' is the apex for this gem of a disc. This is the most potent track of all--and the one I am the most familiar with (seeing that I produced the video for it). Every time I hear it I get the sense of being lost BLISSFULLY in the cosmos... but full of wonder. Music for lysergic inner-space travel.
Concluding this release is 'Back to the Primal'. Despite an almost "electronic feel" at times, it is re-entry music for returning to the mundane tribe/masses perpetuated by consensus reality--the primal of the flesh prison we are born into. Or is it vice-versa? Either way, it is a trip beyond this world (and beyond genre traps) you wish would NEVER end! But until we leave this mortal coil and its restraints of the physical body, it is only possible to touch on these realms with the aide of such ART as that of Mystified..."
--Reviewed by Allan Zane, musician and video artist, Jan 5, 2010