Formication - Ghosts (Omnia Exeunt in Mysterium)

Heathen Harvest - Oren ben Yosef (c) 2008
There is an almost famous story, one of these tales that are on the verge of becoming an urban legend, with its origins lost somewhere in translation, about a troop of soldiers marching in perfect military unison, marching steadly in constant pace, a constant beat, until they reach a long bridge. They keep marching in the same beat on that bridge until suddenly, for no apparent reason, it collapses with them on it. Contrary to our quick thoughts about bombing that bridge or maybe the harsh apocalyptic weather, but no, the reason the bridge collapsed was simple. The constant beat of the marching was the exact frequency of the bridge's material, making it shatter with that steady wave of sound. This is something to think about when listening to Kingsley Ravenscroft and Alec Bowman's "Ghosts", with the powerful sounds that are produced throughout the 12 tracks. A notice on the papers I got with the album reassures of this feeling, saying that the harsh bass and treble are intentional, and not a problem of my speakers, who are about to explode through the vibrations. Throughout the first track, "Gathering the storm", who indeed sounds like a brilliant and tribal work of witchcraft that might call a storm, hopefully to the dry winter around where I live, The harsh drumming that are pounding my head like an old wooden bridge, I am reminded of the two wonderful characters in the book "Gödel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid" , who are arguing wether a certain vinyl can be played by a grammophone and produce a certain vibration that will destroy that grammophone. Even after conjuring this harsh storm, the people of formication are not trying to destroy your speakers or anything, but they certainly manage to produce a monumental presence outside of these speakers and around the listener with the twelve powerful ghosts.

"Ghosts". Take track number four, "Rotten skull", for example. A droning wailing that sounds like an almost autistic mumbling that circles my room, while random screams of horror that end almost before they appear. On top of that, broken samples of what seems to be incomprehensible talkings. A good picture of a ghost by all means. This track points out another quality of this dark duo. While the description sounds like yet another digital cut&paste work, Formication stays warm and organic throughout the entire album, and versatile as well. While "Gathering the storm" is rythmic to the extreme, "Rotten skull" is much more atmospheric and the next track, "Back outside", is layered with harsh drones. This reminding me of playing, more than several times, the album "dead cities" of future sound of london, with "white 2" of Sunn 0))) (Do it!). The constant shifting between rythm, ambient and tidal soundwaves is a focal point in this album as well, and it is done really really well. "All hell & despair" is a good example of putting highly distorted sounds with a warm and touching ambient layers of music, before this track goes into an experimental extravaganza and becomes what its title suggests.

The brilliantly named track "The mountains are machines" is a good example for powerful rythmic industrial track, not unlike what Imminent (Starvation) would make, for instance, only the sounds are again, much warmer and organic, a fact that works perfectly for Formication (and the opposite works real well for imminent, of course). This powerful tribal attack leads to an almost zen-like answer from the short "Stay inside and sleep", who's second part is the last track, "The end of things", that serves as a hybrid between all of the elements that were encountered earlier. A highly contrasted piece that provides a battle field between peaceful and slow music, and harsh breaks and sampled loops. A proper farewell from the ghosts that Ravenscroft and Bowman have summoned. Like one last taste of the old experiences that are locked within this album. Because soon, different experiences will come, if you judge from the number of albums these guys have released in the last few years. And trust me, we can't complain about that. - Roger Batty (c) 2008
Ghosts (Omnia Exeunt in Mysterium) is the second full length from British Dark electroncia Duo Formication,and it really sees them kicking into high gear to create some of their most psyche and head effecting tracks so far.

At it's best and most effective Ghosts (Omnia Exeunt in Mysterium) pulls you deep into a paranoia soacked and dark place that seems to threaten to enveloping and melt ones sanity and even the world around you. I don?t know quite how they?ve done it, but it?s almost like they?ve imbedded the music with some unruly and shapeshiting demons trails. The tracks pace are often more suffocation, more noisy and dense than their work before- imagine Coil?s Black Light District turned up to ten with intensity, with a side order of Autechre at their more unnevering, panic driven and mind effecting. The tracks are mainly ultra dense layered up with drill and hallucinogenic synths and beat fodder, weird vocal trails, juddering harmonies and other unnevering sound trails, with even the slower more ambient tracks having a string in their tails. Things are only let down slightly by the tone been brighten and made less intense towards the end of the album- but I guess this is an attempt to return the listeners mind to normality.

A truely dark and paranoid head fuck of an electronica album that should really come with some sort of health warning. Trust me I wouldn?t operate heavy machinery, drive and certainly never attempt any kind of drugs with this, as I?m sure it?s possible it could drill boar holes into your grey matter with it?s malevolent and dark spirit.

Gothtronic (c) 2008
What I have here is the CDr edition of this album by Formication. In the online press release notes I read that there is also a version of this album which includes a hardcover book, of which 9 copies are signed and have an original print. You can get one of those 9 for $75,-. The book can also be bought separately.

This is a good example of creating an interesting industrial ambient work, full of interesting and deep sounds. Understanding the press release correctly, besides the very limited cd version with the book, as I mentioned earlier, it is only in mp3 format. So that means that most people will be listening to this in mp3 format, which is a shame, since mp3’s can never fulfill the task of giving you the best in sound. I do hope they also release it as a normal album, because the quality of the music demands it!

The music on this album is a combination of rhythmic industrial (though it is not powernoise), deep drones, sound experiments and some cinematic music. A lot of times it’s really trance-inducing like for example the lengthy track 6, ‘All Hell & Despair’. Also the second track, ‘More Joy Than You Could Possibly Know’, uses repetitive sounds to a trance-like effect. The fifth track, ‘Black Outside’, is pretty dark and scary. It feels as if the world around us is becoming a black void with hidden creatures in it. Then with the seventh track, ‘Underearth’, we arrive in a sacred and dark place. There are some drones to be heard and some humming chants. A very introvert song, akin to something like Lustmord mixed with Raison d’Être. The tenth track ‘The Mountains Are Machines’, is a real heavy industrial song, at least for this release, with very rhythmic percussion.

Textura (c) 2008
As they're occasionally wont to do, Kingsley Ravenscroft and Alec Bowman leave the charred womb of their Formicarium to infect listeners with another set of viral mutations. The duo describes Ghosts (Omnia Exeunt in Mysterium) as “a crackling electrical storm of an affair recorded at the foot of Helvellyn in the Lake District earlier this year”; we call it a seventy-six-minute journey through quarantined zones where lepers reign and cannibals feast. Using electronics, piano, vocals, treble recorder, and baritone guitar, Ravenscroft and Bowman give birth to “music” that's like the sonic equivalent to the torture apparatus in Kafka's “In the Penal Colony.” Formicarium's realm is ghoulish indeed, especially when the brutalizing crawl of “Rotten Skull” suggests a failed trepanning experiment distilled into aural form.

The album opens with four minutes of heavily distorted, bass-heavy garble (“Gathering the Storm”) that pours into a rhythmically feverish swamp of toxic oil (“More Joy Than You Could Possibly Know”) within which a blinded colossus writhes uncontrollably as it struggles to stay upright. In the seventeen-minute centerpiece “All Hell & Despair,” guitar fragments flicker like fireflies against a slowly undulating mass and voices slowly rise from some blackened pit before disappearing into the ambient undertow of “Underearth.” “The Mountains Are Machines” serenades with relentless tribal pounding, after which “The End of Things” caps the album by waylaying a gentle piano part with scattered noises and shredded voices. One never knows exactly what's ahead in the Formication world, though one knows it'll be disturbed and disturbing. Why Formication hasn't yet been tapped to provide the soundtrack to a Saw installment boggles the mind.

Etherreal (c) 2008
Hyper productive, two English of Formication returns to us already with a new album left once again in partnership between the netlabel Dark Winter and the label Harmful Records managed by the two artists. The netlabel especially seems to be used for promotion, proposing two titles for free download a few days before the official release date. The complete album is (or rather was) as for him available in a version luxates, inserted in a book of photographs, signed, and imited to 9 pieces (!!) with an adapted price (what is rare is expensive…). Fortunately, the album is also available to the digital format for 1,99$ when the majority of download platforms propose the albums at 9,99$ and the book is also available independently of the music. Beyond the musical experiments, Formication also seems to try out novel modes of distribution!

We had adored the album Icons for a New Religion, we were more reserved on Agnosia. What is it of this new delivery? No doubt, this one is closer to the album, the duet putting a little in withdrawal its concrete rhythmic attempts and concentrating on what they do better, namely one ambient sinks, mysterious and inhabited. The album opens on some very dark titles, marked by strong industrial influences. Hummings, saturations (Gathering the Storm), machines creating of rhythmic mechanics (More Joy Than You Could Possibly Know) and hypnotic loops, or bruitists jets on a basis frankly ambient (It Will Be Ace Yew You Had Never Existed). Each part seems made up like an accumulation of loops and heterogeneous sonorities in the beginning even of the mysterious aspect of this music. Incongruous assemblies of processed voices, electronic sonorities, acoustics and processed recordings, and sometimes a melody which emerges, like the first sun ray after a storm (Back Outside). Precisely after the storm one approaches a second half of album more alleviated definitely, giving up a little the industrial component with the profit of a music more openly ambient, more luminous and ventilated with the 16 minutes image of splendid All Hell & Despair or Underearth, hardly punctuated of metal deaf persons blows. The last titles are a good compromise between bruitists experimentations and chaotic melodies with floating notes, piano which tumbles down, syncopes and sound effects.

More industrial than: Zoviet*France: , less mystic that Coil, but worthy heir to these two formations, Formication continues to cut through its path on a chaotic course.

Judas Kiss - Grégory Dejaeger (c) 2008
A bit of a strange beast, this. Kingsley Ravenscroft and Alec Bowman, the main composers behind Formication (a somewhat unusual sensation closely resembling the feeling of insects crawling under one’s skin, Wiki tells me), don’t seem the kind to sit around on their lazy arses waiting for fame and money – which is just as well considering the music genre they have decided to work in.

Over the course of the last three years since the release of their first CDr back in 2005, they have managed to produce a singularly impressive body of work. Well, quantity-wise at least, since I must admit that this is my first encounter with the duo from Farnsfield.

What’s strange, though, is not so much the rather proactive history of the group (Peter Andersson and Henrik ‘Nordvargr’ Björkk could teach them a lesson or two) but the manner in which this, their new album hit the shelves. Or didn’t, since it actually comes in two different formats, one as a high quality MP3-only release which you can purchase for less than two dollars – even less in quids or euros - and the other as a deluxe hardback picture book complete with a good ol’ CD, which will set you back 75 dollars - still expensive in quids or euros.

At least you can find solace in the fact that you’ll be one of only nine punters to own said object. Come to think of it, I won’t elaborate too much on the latter (a pdf version of the book is available on the band’s website if you’re interested) seeing how it might well be sold out for all I know.

To the music, then. Starting off the proceedings with some trance-y, lightweight power electronics that could as well have graced a Folkstorm album, Ghosts (Omnia Exeunt in Mysterium) – meaning ‘they all leave mysteriously’ according to my now retired Latin teacher – then continues into somewhat murkier territory that, while not distinctly dark ambient-sounding (no ringing bells, ominous sound waves or assorted niceties here), still manages to conjure up the kind of atmosphere you would expect walking at night in the woods… or on top of a mountain, rather, seeing how the info sheet informs us that the album was actually recorded at the foot of mount Helvellyn (the third highest peak in England, for all you geographers out there) earlier this year. The rest of the album pretty much follows the above pattern, switching as it does between mostly introspective tracks (All Hell & Despair, at sixteen minutes the longest track on offer on an album otherwise made of rather shorter tracks) and occasionally more rhythmic experimentations (The Mountains Are Machines), which as you can imagine makes it somewhat complicated for the listener to completely immerse themselves in a given atmosphere. Or maybe that was the desired effect, I am not sure.

Of course, it’s difficult to come up with a concept like this without coming across as über-artsy at times and the group doesn’t disappoint. As a matter of fact, I could do without half of the tracks on offer, the uplifting ones or the gloomy ones, depending on the mood I’m in at that particular point in time, kind of like having two albums being played almost simultaneously. Or, to take another example, like eating tuna and raspberry jam at the same time. Which is a shame, really, as you can tell the guys seem to know exactly what they’re doing and they’re actually doing it fairly well.

An acquired taste, most certainly.

Synergy Magazine - Robert Black (c) 2008
On the 16th August 2008, Formication released ‘Ghosts (Omnia Exeunt in Mysterium)’ as a DRM free, high quality MP3 download and deluxe hardback book edition of nine signed copies at The book is also available to purchase separately via Dark Winter, though only the first nine copies will be signed and feature an original print, taken from the book.

This is a startling work, original, edgy, incisive and textured. It gets under your skin very quickly and crates a dark even menacing mood. The tracks range from dark electronica with a driving beat which hammer directly into your skull to slow creeping tracks which ooze nightmares into your dreams.

This is a superb audio experience, a soundscape to experience the darkest of nights and one which needs to be regularly played so as to allow its atmosphere to envelop you. It is ambient at its very best exploring new territory and creating new moods and sounds...

Absolutely riveting!

Dark Winter has made available various tracks for advance listening, so go online and check it out, preferably late at night, alone....

IkEcht - Songsoverruins (c) 2008
The gents of Formication are no unfamiliar names on this blog. "Ghosts (Omnia Exeunt In Mysterium)" is by now the fifth album to be reviewed here. This time it was published by the band itself and it can be obtained as a digital download, for a mere two dollars, or bought as an extremely limited de luxe edition of only nine copies. For 75 dollars you will then get the CD with a book containing photos by the band. Unsurprisingly this limited edition sold out very quickly, but the book can still be ordered. The digital download contains a PDF version of the book by the way.

"Ghosts" is again a nice slab of experimental music that floats somewhere between IDM, glitch and ambient. It seems the album can be divided into two halves. The first half an hour and five tracks are a dense and complex whole. "Gathering The Storm" brings us dark, stuttering polyphonic rhythms that stumble over each other, with something that sounds like deformed windshield wipers being mixed in. This morphs into the more beat-oriented "More Joy Than You Could Possibly Know". Everything falls apart again for a rather noisy ambient piece after that. Really infectious is "Rotten Skull", where a mechanical heartbeat is mixed with complex rhythms and fragmented vocals and the whole really starts sounding like glitch, with pieces of conversation alternating and being mixed up with one another. Sounds odd? It is at first instance but it does work fantastically. If you don't mind experimental music in the vein of Venetian Snares or Aphex Twin, you will have a lot to enjoy here.

The turnabout comes with the sixth track which sits smack-dab in the middle with its seventeen minutes. It starts qutie chaotic again but then turns into a nice piece of ambient music that, I feel, contains elements that go back to "Pieces For A Condemned Piano", mostly because of the sounds of strings being plucked. Again I was waiting for these sounds to remain stuck and start looping, thus being a repetition of that fantastic third track of said album. No, the tension is there, but it doesn't happen. The remainder of the album is mostly dark and calm, excluding for a moment "The Mountains Are Machines", but it is also over soon. A string of tracks each lasting less than two-and-a-half minutes, once even less than thirty seconds, brings us to probably the best piece on the whole album, as far as I'm concerned. "The End Of Things" is where all elements come together; the glitch-like vocals, the complicated rhythmic patterns and the fragile piano sounds. These contrasts work really well, provide tension and make for a track that I will listen to again and again. Goosebumps.

With "Ghosts" Formication gives us a complex album that is not directly accessible. The first few times I didn't quite get it. A lot of opposing elements are put together and the album wanders quite a bit. Personally I think it works and it doesn't bother me. If this kind of experimental electronics is up your alley and you don't mind atypical rhythmic structures (read: Venetian Snares), this album has a lot to offer. And for just two dollar you can't really go wrong with this one. After giving it a few spins I have been converted and enjoy the album a lot. Yet again a masterful album by Formication and it makes me wonder: "When are these guys going to be discovered by a larger label?"

The included book with pictures is really worth the effort, by the way, and proves them to be gifted photographers as well.

Originally written in Dutch for the IkEcht weblog, English translation by the author.

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