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act 210 · tzolk'in · haab' · cd

1. muwan
2. kumk'u
3. uayeb
4. k'ank'in
5. sotz
6. k'ayab
7. yaxk'in
8. xul

"tzolk'in is the name bestowed by mayanist scholars upon the version of the 260-day mesoamerican calendar which was used by the maya civilization of pre-columbian mesoamerica. the tzolk'in, the most fundamental and widely-attested of all the maya calendars, was a pre-eminent component in the society and rituals of the ancient maya. the word, meaning "count of days", was coined based on yukatek maya. the maya used several cycles of days, of which the two most important were the tzolk'in, or sacred round of 260 days and the approximate solar year of 365 days or haab. the sacred round combined the repeating cycle of numbers 1-13 with 20 day names... so that any particular combination would recur in 13 x 20 or 260 days; the day name and the number changed together: 1 imix, 2 ik, 3 akbal... as we might say monday 1, tuesday 2, wednesday 3, and so on." (reference:'in)

the musical project tzolk'in is a collaboration between empusae and flint glass - artists who are known in the fields of dark ambient, contemporary ritualistic tribal music and experimental electronica. this project is a conceptual creation inspired by mayan mythology and the ancient mayan astrological calendar of the same name. from the beginning their approach to sound resulted in quite a few novel musical perspectives: the merging of empusae's distinct dark, oppressive and brooding soundscapes and flint glass's characteristic rhythmic and ambient compositions (which are seemingly subject to an almost alien purpose and theme). the final product is majestic and epic, often martial and bellicose, with a sense of tragedy that at times is even quite meditative. tzolk'in can easily be viewed as an exotic soundtrack to the phantoms of a dead civilization or more simply put, music that is inspired by a doomed mayan divination system.

on their first self-titled release, empusae and flint glass chose eight periods of the tzolk'in calendar and on haab' they describe eight periods of the mayan solar year. ceremonious, deep tones merge with the power and strength of industrial music - kept together by elaborate impulsive ritual rhythms that enhance the atmosphere of a flourishing culture. an abyssal, haunting cycle of tribal sound, constructed so that the listener can dive into a bygone era.

packaging: gatefold-sleeve special black cardboard w/ golden print.

first live-presentation of haab':
april 4/5 2008 @ elektroanschlag 8, altenburg / germany

discography 02.2k8:
tzolk'in. cd. divine comedy records dc033. 2004
haab'. cd. ant-zen act210. 2008

tzolk'in on the internet:


der medienkonverter
vor vier jahren war das gleichnamige debüt von tzolk'in schon etwas besonderes: ein album, das komplett aus tribal rhythmen mit ein paar melodien und samples bestand. dessen ungeachtet war "tzolk'in" an manchen stellen einfach noch zu trocken, es fehlte das gewisse quäntchen magie, das eigentlich mit der musik rüber kommen sollte. aber alles wird gut, denn gwenn trémorin (flint glass) und nicolas van meirhaeghe (empusae, sal-ocin, this morn' omina) haben ordentlich nachgelegt und ein absolut fantastisches album geschaffen. "haab'", so der name dieses wunderwerks, ist, genauso wie tzolk'in, die bezeichnung für einen kalender der maya. diese hatten, so viel man heute weiß, für verschiedene zwecke unterschiedliche kalender. haab' war der normale kalender, der sich an der sonne ausrichtet und tzolk'in der rituelle kalender, bei dem heute niemand mehr mit sicherheit sagen kann, an was er sich wirklich orientiert. während das duo auf seinem debüt acht perioden des tzolk'in kalenders musikalisch interpretiert hat, sind es diesmal acht perioden des sonnenjahrs der maya. flint glass und empusae haben anscheinend ihre zusammenarbeit vertieft, denn die stärken beider projekte treten deutlich hervor und sind in ihrer kombination einfach unschlagbar. empusae als meister des tribal und flint glass als verfasser dunkler, klarer melodien sowie beide als erschaffer beklemmender und melancholischer stimmungen. das duo scheint sich nicht einfach nur perfekt zu ergänzen, sondern seine fähigkeiten zu verstärken, denn "haab'" ist mit seinen tribal rhythmen, ambienten melodien und seinem mystischen charakter derart genial, dass man das album gar nicht mehr aus der hand legen bzw. aus dem player nehmen möchte. die songs pulsieren, reißen mit oder verzaubern. mal steht die melodie im vordergrund, mal die rituelle perkussion. dieser wechsel spielt sich innerhalb der einzelnen songs ab, die dadurch meditativ und transzendental wirken oder gar einen zeremoniellen charakter aufweisen. weder an den einzelnen songs noch am gesamteindruck gibt es etwas auszusetzen, daher ist "haab'" endlich mal wieder ein album, das die volle punktzahl verdient hat.

a review in russian language can be found on the machinist's website:

the tzolk'in project, named after the most fundamental maya calendar, is a musical endeavour of the masterminds nicolas from empusae and this morn' omina together with gwenn from flint glass. two well known names in the realms of dark ambient and ritual tribal electronic music. four years ago they surprised with an excellent debut. it will therefore not be a surprise that the music on this album has a pleasurable quality. the best of both the projects come together here in an amalgam of sounds that is characterized by dark melancholic yet epic sounding soundscapes, with added ambient spheres and rhythms that ensure an exotic, either meditative or haunting tribal atmosphere. ceremonial deep tones take you back in time to the world of the maya's, while these tones are merging with the power of industrial music, kept together by the ritual rhythms that enhance the atmosphere of a thriving culture such as the maya people once had. haab' is a truly ingenious album that with modern means very imaginatively and effectively manages to translate an ancient mystical atmosphere to the listener of today. sublime! (teknoir)

after a remarkable debut-release on divine comedy, tzolk'in now joined ant-zen to release the "haab"-album. inspired by the eight periods of the mayan solar year, tzolk'in remains an interesting conceptual project between sal-ocin (empusae, this morn'omina) and gwenn trémorin (flint glass and owner of brume records). musical wise they combine the rhythmic of sal-ocin and the darker ambient content of gwenn trémorin. tzolk'in have a very own and particular sound with a strong and rather ritual rhythmic mixed with soundtrack atmospheres. the ambient side is rather cold and with a very powerful visual effect. the tracklist of the album is quite interesting for the way the last 2 songs (and especially "yaxk'in" ("green sun") are reaching a real apotheosis. there's an impressive trance-ritual touch running to both cuts. the previous songs don't have a similar trance effect, but the ritual character of the rhythmic and mysterious ambient vibes are leading the listener in an imaginary inner-vision. the only regret (if there's one) is maybe the absence of a few spoken samplings or real voices, which in a spooky way would bring this album to an absolute pagan masterpiece. the first part of "haab'" is dominated by tracks like "kumk'u" ("cosmic disorder"), "uayeb" ("five days of godless chaos") and "sotz" (governed by death"). this is a real great new release from this belgo-french project! (dp)

connexion bizarre
it has been four years since the tzolk'in collaboration's self-titled debut, and like its predecessor, "haab'" draws inspiration from the calendric systems of the maya civilization that thrived in pre-columbian mesoamerica. this second (superb) effort sees the members of empusae and flint glass again combining their experimental electronic powers to forge an idiosyncratic, ritualistic vision of post-industrial divination. closely following the theme set by "tzolk'in" (2004), "haab'" also chooses eight periods from its own calendar with which to generate hypnotic tribal masterpieces. eschewing the raucous chaos so prevalent among their peers, tzolk'in submits to its listener an obvious logic of interdependent biotic patterns constructed from underpinnings of resolute hand drums and restless mythological spasms. melancholy opener "muwan" (owl) sets the tone, weaving a viscous and tactile ambience that proclaims the mysteries of a complex nation effaced by time and turmoil. discontent to wander the shadows, the instruments on "haab'" soon gain conviction, and in grand and unbridled fashion, burst forth in a plangent and timeless hymn. the chattering drums of "kumk'u" (granary) and squelching acid midrange of "uayeb" (five unlucky days - the unnamed days at the solar year's end were an unpredictable time, when portals between the realms of mortal and dead dissolved) solidify the album's momentum, with tzolk'in ever mindful of the underlying organic structure and meditative atmosphere. "k'ank'in" (yellow sun) sees crooning, warbling horns scaling up and down arpeggios, joined by fey chimes, yet everything flits above a seething undercurrent of void and darkness. "sotz" (bat) is unmatched in its nervous agenda, while "xul" (dog), laced with aggressive drums, speaks of creeping and haunted things. trance-inducing "k'ayab" (turtle) deals out a fantastic low end of grooves galore, conjuring the menacing tropics, and "yaxk'in" (new sun) appropriately follows with the thumping twangs and distant howls of upbeat ritual dance. on "haab'" nothing seems overly digitized, and it is this aspect that lends the album's particular morphology its absolute potency. like an epiphytic outgrowth from formalistic cues, tzolk'in achieves musical, technical and spiritual success without sacrificing its critical artistic engagement with apocalyptic motifs. expect music both thrumming and viscid, bathed in swathes of chimeric color and decorated with refined and subtle gestures; prepare to be immersed and transported. (dutton)

guts of darkness
tzolk'in poursuit ses mises en musique des calendriers mayas en nous livrant cette fois ci huit périodes de l'année solaire dont le fonctionnement vous sera sûrement mieux expliqué par des fins connoisseurs de la cause précolombienne. en revanche, je me ferai un plaisir de vous décrire le contenu de haab', à mi-chemin entre plaid et this morn'omina, l'un pour les mélodies ('kumk'u' semble calqué sur 'eyen') et l'autre pour l'aspect immortel des pulsations tribales dont l'électronique ne forme qu'une coquille nouvelle sans jamais en trahir l'essence. malgré la signature sur ant-zen, le voyage proposé par tzolk'in est étonnement soft et caressant, toujours cohérent dans sa symbiose tribal-électro (donc pas mal de breaks et de mélodies trancey) et le voyage s'avère tout à fait délectable et sans surprise outre mesure (on peut tout à fait mélanger les pistes pour prolonger le plaisir). il parvient à captiver sans en proposer plus et si un peu d'approfondissement aurait parfois été bienvenu pour aller plus avant dans la narration d'un lieu ou d'une époque, il n'en est pas moins réussi au regard de ce qu'il promet. signalons également un bien beau packaging à l'encre dorée (s.alt a le goût pour ce qui est d'apposer des matières sur les sons) qui s'intègrera à merveille au milieu d'autres productions similaires. (wotzenknecht)

tzolk'in is een van de kalenders die de maya bijhielden. in dit geval een kalender met een jaar van 260 dagen opgedeeld in 20 perioden van 13 dagen. maar tzolk'in is ook de samenwerking van flint glass en empusae, een project geïnspireerd door de oude maya-cultuur. haab' is een andere kalender van de maya, gebasseerd op het zonnejaar en 365 dagen lang. tot zover de inleidende beschietingen.. op naar de muziek. die muziek doet wat je zou verwachten als je flint glass en empusae kent. het mixt ambient met tribal en experiment. wat eruit komt zijn acht soundscapes die je inderdaad mee terug kunnen slepen naar een oude bloeiende cultuur, waar toch al een ondertoon in zit van het aankomende verval. donkere lagen ondertonen worden aangezet met prettige tribal percussie en zo af en toe een lichte melodielaag om te ontwikkelen tot een hypnotiserend schijfje. een schijfje dat duidelijk afzonderlijke tracks heeft en toch als een geheel wegluistert. kortom het is weer erg fijn, ritual zo gemaakt dat het toegankelijk klinkt, maar toch genoeg lagen heeft voor hen die willen ontleden. kortom met dit schijfje op ant-zen is er weer een klein meesterwerkje uitgebracht. een schijfje dat hier nog menig rondje zal draaien.

vital weekly 629
from the very first moment this album allures the listener with the intense ethno-industrial style. opening track titled "muwan" is an emotional beginning of pounding rhythms and emotional melodic soundscapes turning the memories back to the good moments of legendary us-project gridlock. behind the odd name "tzolk'in" you find the collaboration between flint glass and empusae. tzolk'in - the name of the project refers to a calendar of the ancient maya civilization of pre-columbian meso-america. as the name of the project indicates the music on the album titled "haab" is ethno-inspired with an exotic approach to the industrial style. ritual rhythm textures floats in beautiful atmospheres, meanwhile harsh expressions of industrial sounds create a more edgy angle to the trance-inducing music. the result is quite unique and definitely worth checking out. (nm)

access code
pour les quelques profanes qui dorment au fond de la classe, tzolk'in est un projet commun des deux excellentes formations française et belge flint glass et empusae. un album est deja sorti il y a quelques années sur divine comedy records. l'univers et le thème de ce projet ont pour objet la culture ancestrale et la mythologie maya. inutile de vous dire que ce qui résulte de cette association, est lumineux !!!! on est vraiment dans le haut du panier de la musique ambiante industrielle, un des disques de l'année vous ne risquez rien si vous achetez ce disque. comme pour le premier album, la qualité de la production est d'une finesse éblouissante, les percussions de sal-ocin sont enivrantes, mais pas seulement... elles font monter et descendre naturellement votre rythme cardiaque dans une orgie de plaisir, votre taux de sérotonine est au taquet .... bref vous partez dans une transe contemplative , c'est radical !!! pour donner une idée de ce a quoi ressemble tzolk'in, on peut parler de this morn'omina et ah cama-sotz. mais très franchement, pour moi tzolk'in est même au dessus que ces prestigieuses références, moins de facilités, moins de compromis, une beauté pure...

tzolk'in, as well as being the term given to the 260-day mayan calendar system, also happens to be the name chosen to encapsulate the collaborative tribal industrial project instigated by nicolas van meirhaeghe of empusae and gwenn trémorin of flint glass. haab is their second album, following on from their self-titled 2004 debut on divine comedy, and the eight tracks of dark ambient and industrial inflected dance exhibited here project us into a long-lost and forgotten world of irrecoverable mystery, edged with sharply-bladed sinister undercurrents and spine-tinglingly brooding rainforest atmospheres. it's an exotic concoction indeed, combining as it does primal rhythms that spear their way directly to the primitive heart of mankind's brain, creating a delicious friction between the base appeal of something quite untainted, untamed, and raw, and the fear of the alien and unknown elicited by the same. even those not entirely aware of the significance of the band name, as well as the album and track titles, would still take from it a glimpse into a world of danger, primitive instincts, and precarious existences lived out against a wild-if brightly-tinted and draped-backdrop, where garish flashes of primary colors burst out amongst the dark leafy greens and woodiness, as if to say that appearances here are deceptive; despite the peacock finery of the some of the creatures here (both animal and human) alongside them comes brutality and unalloyed cruelty. welcome, indeed, to the heady world of tzolk'in. despite the fact that most of the sounds here are digitally generated, allied to breathy voicings and whisperings in addition to the sounds of alien life, there is an undeniable natural feel to everything, that the emotions and the shivers that freely flow up and down the spine are the result of extracts from the real world, that somehow tzolk'in have been able to reach back through history and forcibly wrench huge chunks of jungle and historical authenticity into the light of modern scrutiny. perhaps the premier epitomisation of that comes in the form of the track called "sotz", flowing from the deep bass rumblings, breathiness and mournful howlings of unseen and unidentified forest-dwellers, to the loping percussive pattern that eventually breaks out into a heavy rhythmic-industrial engine that impels the whole on a headlong rush, carrying the listener crashing through the undergrowth and greenery. all the while, allied to this, there's a distinct feeling that this wild careening is a running away, that something massive and generally inimical to the personal health of humanity has got its hungry sights set on the audience. one of the greatest, and most remarkable, assets about this production was its innate ability to place me right in the middle of the action. i did indeed feel as if i was there, wherever 'there' is meant to be, and that i was completely wrapped in an environment constructed from sound and rhythm. alongside the aforementioned "sotz," mention must also be made of "yaxk'in," an equally dramatic piece dripping, literally, with hidden disembodied beasties, twilight-garbed forests, and a deeply embedded sense of unseen menace, all propelled along with a meatily gargantuan beat, the very dark heartbeat of the jungle itself. ensuing from here, and just to round things off, is "xul," the brooding intelligence of the rainforest made tangible, a slow circular croaking supported by layers of tribal percussion, moving it forward and giving it substantial weight and menace, pinning us hypnotically in its thousand-yard stare. without any doubt, this is one of the better, in addition to being one of the more coherent, amalgams of dark ambient atmospheres, rhythmic and tribal industrial, and intelligent dance music to come my way - the sinister and dark atmospheres are admirably sustained throughout and do so without any let-up - and furthermore each track can be recommended as being of equal quality and interest, with not a duff note between them. personally, i tend to find that such music generally blurs into one homogeneous whole after a while; and even though there's a definite and discernible aesthetic flavoring these pieces, tzolk'in introduce enough range and variety to sharpen my attention to stop it from wandering. in other words then, i couldn't have done better than to just sit back and let the liana- and vine-encrusted mystery that is tzolk'in completely enfold me in its leafy and darkly primitive embrace. (simon marshall-jones)

tzolk'in's haab (ant-zen) is another animal altogether; this release unleashes a subdued fury that is all encapsulating and adventurous. perhaps discovered on a distant planet (likely to be the case), tzolk'in creates industrialized landscapes, torn at the edges, shredded at the seams yet with a propulsion that moves into future worlds (refer to "kumk'u" for a prime example). at times veering into built-up distortion ("yaxk'in"), tzolk'in's sound is nothing short of extraterrestrial madness with an organically tribal feel. approach with caution, exit with euphoria.

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