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Children of the Black Sun (Mute Records)

Children of the Black Sun is an elliptical journey, a brief, invigorating passage through one orbit of Boyd Rice's vision. It's an album riddled with clues as to Rice's intent, but, to his credit as an artist, he leaves the particulars of your voyage to your imagination.

From the opening invocation of "Arkaö" (in French, a possible homage to Jean Cocteau, to whom the album is dedicated), Children of the Black Sun creates a twilight atmosphere of tension and beauty. Delicate harp glissandos and heavenly strings start on high, then begin a descent into deeper, darker timbres. As with most Non albums, the instrumentation is unrecognizable: The music is composed of currents of sound, ebbs and tides of drone that slip over and under each other fluidly, the individual tracks seeping together seamlessly. Instead of the punishing mass for which Non is renowned, the music now is softer, yet no less powerful. "Serpent of the Abyss," the album's pivotal track, is a cavernous echo, menacing, scraped strings, an all-encompassing cthonic rumble that still allows for the distant plink of beads of water dropping into the slowly coursing black arterial flow that feeds the center of this underworld the listener inhabits. This ominous roar becomes the slap of water on a bark's hull, the crackling warmth of fire and a swirling celestial choir, which gives way to majestic processional horn peals and the closing backward declamation of "Son of the Sun."

But what does it all mean? Is this a new soundtrack for Cocteau's Orphée? A map to the final resting place of Orpheus' head? The hidden path to Rex Mundi's throne room? An alternate route to the headwaters of the Alpheus? An occult code that when broken reveals the illuminating rays of the invisible Black Sun? What are you looking for? What will you find? Children of the Black Sun is merely a conveyance: It falls on you to make the journey.

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