Few classical music performers can boast of the sense of awe and wonder that Jordi Savall re-instills into works from eras in which this art was about surrendering to the grandeur of what can be termed creation, without acquiescing to religious exotericism. In the present performance of the Gregorian-style composition titled ‘The Song of the Sybil’, an additional layer of instruments is added, including sparse percussion and supple string accompaniments that enter and leave the main body of vocal lines like phantasms. One could say that we can hear an originally Christian vocal composition based on an ancient pagan mystery being re-appropriated, by way of artistic and spiritual infusion, of that originally pagan aura that wonders deeply at a mostly hidden cosmos that whispers its secrets here and there, and in which we are but small spectators and explorers, and not the hubristic chosen species of the originally Jewish god given free reign to abuse the Earth as long as they bow down to his mercy, and not daring to look too much beyond exoteric words.
The arrangements upon the score are sensitive and channel all technical artistry towards an organic and vibrant expression that flows into valleys and then soars suddenly in an abrupt upward stare. The instruments, including the magnificent human voices, are utilized with care and in carefully thought out measure, in a way that tells us that not only cold thought was used, but an inner sense of balance between pacing forth and strong statements that ground the whole experience for the listener. This is, indeed, the purpose of the solo-tutti transitions, whose theoretical structuration is the basis for the rest of the winding instrumental voices and decisions. Each time one of the two comes back, it is the a reincarnation: a same essence but a different expression, an immovable rod extending through the state changes of the cosmos whose sequence constitute what we know as ‘time’.
In this musical marvel we may find lessons of all kinds, both explicitly musical as well as metaphorical mysteries of life. What is pertinent for us to say in this specific time and place, is that the dark musical arts, black metal most definitely included, should be taking deep hints from such revived spiritual music from true masters of music, who in the true solitude and desolation of their times discovered the sequences, and embellished the bodies thereof, of the sound-spirits we hear in art such as that of ‘The Song of the Sybil’. To perceive it in sensual apprehension is but a first step, and an important one in the integral view of things, but true understanding most go beyond, not only to metaphor and tenuous apprehension, but towards an understanding of both ‘esoteric’ as well as mechanical dynamics. Only then, through a full usage of our present human faculties, can we ascend.