Abul Mogard – The Sky Had Vanished (Ecstatic, 2015)

Abul Mogard is a mysterious man, supposedly a retired factory-worker from Serbia who has since turned to create expansive and poetic drone pieces in the last few years, and little is known about him. It is something of a fanciful tale, and since his appearances are otherwise scarce it’s difficult to say whether this backstory is true or not, especially considering how sonically mature the music he’s producing is. Artist backstories aren’t why we’re here though, we’re here to talk about his latest effort on cassette with Ecstatic from mid-July and my oh my, what a record this is; comprised of heady synth drones and possibly some warped guitars also, The Sky Had Vanished is a drawing and complex album that ensconces you in its mystifying expanses before choking you with claustrophobic anxieties, and I love it.

The first and longest track of the three presented here, “Staring at the Sweeps of the Desert”, truly lives up to its namesake, filling its 18 minute span with luxurious spacious dronescapes, every direction we turn another view of the dynamic yet quietly serene biome, soft waves of tickling airs creeping over the dune crests in the dimming sunlight, propelled by deep and heady roots that remind us of its depth and breadth. Its lightness is admiration in the smooth perfection of the sculpted dunes before it, whilst a slightly grittier and clipped edge recognises the uncountable myriad of grains that it is comprised of, faintly detectable as nought but a frosting from our vantage point. It escalates slowly and carefully as more and more becomes apparent, the panoramic vista slowly unravelling itself in our minds eye in all its wonderment, before dipping away towards the middle of the piece, dying with the falling Sun and ushering in a new realm of impenetrable darkness and unending expanse, of labyrinthine dunes cloaked in blackness that reaches up to suffocate us in oscillating thrums and menacing, bleak stretches of oppressive drone noise. We are nothing in the face of nature, just another grain in the desert as it swallows us up in crippling claustrophobia.

The title track is half the length and somewhat less dark than its predecessor’s deepest moments, but in what sounds like deep and distant guitar drones we do seem to find ourselves lost and alone, our path unlit and future uncertain as it ratchets itself into life, growing in volumetric strength as well as textural complexity as it begins to swirl around us, the chaos refined and almost consistent in its whirling patterns, flashes of light rising unbidden from our tightly shut eyes, random bursts of activity that torture our poor, tired mind. It’s noisy and disturbed but it never reaches the fearful heights of before, pushing through the oppressive tracts of sound with a single-minded efficacy; hope lies on the other side it says, all we need to do is outlive these crushing moments and it’s ours.

Before we know it our life is almost spent and “Desires Are Reminiscences By Now” rolls around in our final act to turn about in introspective passages and survey the damage, all the moments and wants and could-have-beens we’ve left in our wake. It’s a smoother cruise than the others, its synth currents sounding almost helpless in their earlier movements as they slink forwards born out of regret and nostalgic failure. Vangelis-esque blasts, electronic warblings and thoughtful croons cry out for the life they wished they’d lived, but it’s too late for all that now and each moment seems to emotionally eclipse these miserable thoughts, replacing them with waves of blisteringly cathartic energy that turn us away from the past and its many lost moments, the only changes remaining to us here in the present and in the future. It’s a crushingly beautiful conclusion to this true rollercoaster of emotion and I can’t think of a more fitting end. Open your eyes and steer yourself true, Mogard seems to say, don’t let your desires become reminiscences to regret forever, act now and beat the desert rather than become it. Effortlessly, poetically, beautiful.