Volahn – Aq’ab’al: A Mind’s Journey
15:01 – Upon taking the first sip of the concoction prepared for me, the palate is awash with complex earthy flavours. An affront to the senses, the merger of the aroma and taste is unusual, unlike the common flavours I’m accustomed to. I hand the ceremonial carved-wood vessel back to the shaman. Within what feels like mere seconds, the profuse salivation sets in. The eyes, while able to remain open at will, feel that closed is their preferred and somehow natural state. They roll back accordingly. It is then, the odyssey begins.
The mind arrives at the bank of a running estuary. Green surrounds, the sky practically eclipsed in a dense and verdant collage. Pieces overlapping gracefully, but with an abstract structure. Warm mist glides overhead, further breaking up the imperfect arrangements, drifting amidst and seemingly diffusing through the leaves. A series of primal drumming patterns beat within my mind, ostensibly pulsating in time with the jungle’s perpetual breath. The mist condenses atop the leaves, gradually pooling in their undulating margins until the weight overcomes them, dropping beside me. A single droplet bursts on the golden cap of a nearby mushroom, dislodging a myriad of spores which will eventually colonise the lands. Meanwhile, the seeds sown by the sounds continue to take root deeper and deeper in my mind.
Running through the lush forest, not in fear but in search, hearing the odd crush of fallen detritus underfoot. Lithe. Aware. The newly unfurled fronds of bracken ferns soften the impact of each stride, gently crumpling and returning to their position among the undergrowth. The water flows alongside, almost in perfect timing with my strides. Occassionally faltering around rocky outcrops popping up amid the stream. The majority of the liquid keeps its path though, allowing the small swirling vorticies time to rejoin the torrent, for the time being. I continue questing forth.
Aside my makeshift path, many other creatures abound, each on their own quest, struggling against the elements in a pervasive urgency. The brilliant blue lapis lazuli colour of a poison dart frog catches my peripheral vision, I turn just in time to see it be snatched up by the spring of a once coiled viper. Death usurping death. The sounds of the water gushing reach a crescendo. As I slow my pace, the canopy ahead gives way to a brilliant sunlit sky, filled with shades of yellow and blue. The river drops off the edge of the horizon, crashing onto rocks below. There are placid pools along the edges of the main watercourse, their still sheets of aquamarine mirror all that falls upon them. I glance down into the closest pond and stare into the reflection of my eyes.
The haze lifts, I open my eyes and instinctively glance at my watch. 15:59. Just under an hour has passed since I spiralled out. Even though it felt like the best part of a day was spent in the mind’s eye, I still feel refreshed. While not all of the journey is able to be recalled, there were some poignant moments which are especially memorable.
For those of you who don’t like my attempted allegories, meagre metaphors and stupid symbolism, I’ll give you a brief run-down of the album Aq’Ab’Al by Volahn. This record from the Crepusculo Negro figureheads has been on constant rotation for me since its release in January 2015, and for good reason. The unprecedented blend of pre-Columbian meso-American themes with the raw yet rich psychedelic-tinged black metal sounds is incredible. The album was only available for purchase by physical means until recently so after tossing up for several months on what to do, I decided I had to fork out for the delivery to Australia, only for the album to become available for digital purchase on bandcamp on THE VERY DAY my delivery arrived. But you know what, I’m really glad I did get the physical copy because the album art and lyrics are amazing. If you have an affinity for the traditional art of pre-classical civilisations, then get Cassette, CD or Vinyl. While not extensive, it is quite intricate and certainly adds more flavour to the already vivid album.
Since the album’s release earlier this year, it is worth mentioning that Volahn spearheaded a compilation album released by Crepusculo Negro titled Desert Dances and Serpent Sermons. Their track is just over 10 minutes of what they describe as “western black metal”, which is perfectly apt. The sounds are what I’d imagine Quentin Tarantino would have liked to employ if he had directed Apocalypto instead of Mel Gibson. Don’t let my name-dropping of two questionable famous people stop you from clicking play below, I will buy this compilation too. It’s only available physically now by the looks of it, but don’t fret; it will become available digitally the day after I click “Pay Now”.