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act 248 · squaremeter · heliogabal · cd

tracklist:
01 the priests
02 winds & ruins
03 heliogabal I
04 relics of the undefeated guard
05 the sacred shrine
06 reign
07 deus sol invictus
08 whores, smoke & shadows
09 square-dimensional space
10 heliogabal II

from ancient history and forward into modern posterity, the name of heliogabal a.k.a. elagabal has become the symbol of the roman iron age's vice and decadence as well as for how oriental influences were fatal to this culture. a massive conflict between conservative romans and those who followed the syrian religious traditions (themselves personified by the juvenile but extremely vain emperor himself) overshadowed heliogabal's reign. his rule disastrously failed due to the absence of a give-and-take philosophy and a lack of an understanding of the duties involved with wielding the power or a roman emperor. after the greek mythology of his last album 'nyx', mathis mootz took heliogabal's life as an inspiration for this release which marks the tenth anniversary of squaremeter.

mootz' skills of creating unbearable tension and covering all bases between absolute silence up to vibrating choirs and distant industrial outbursts are clear on this album. 'heliogabal' is an intermixture of hypnotic deep drones, haunting basses and disturbing soundscapes. cinematic field recordings, intermittent hypnotic sequencer loops and urgent eruptions of sound merge into an incredible collection of atmospheric dark ambient tracks. this album might be useful as an imaginary trip into a sable, a cruel past where man had the potential of being a god - before finally being disgraced.

adjust the headphones - references are legion, sunn O))), lustmord, clock dva...

m2 discography. 06.2k10:
m2. 14id1610s. cd. ant-zen act98. 2000
m2. sinecore. cd, mille plateaux mp 088 cd. 2000
m2. kopyright liberation. lp. ant-zen act109. 2000
m2 / needle sharing. mono brutal. lp. hands v023. 2000
m2. parsec. cd. hands d020. 2001
m2 / xingu hill. this anxious space. cd, hymen records ¥717. 2001
m2. the bitter end. cd. hands d036. 2002
m2. war of sound. cd. ant-zen act148. 2003
m2. aswad. cd. ant-zen act168. 2004
m2. the frozen spark. cd. ant-zen act198. 2005
m2. nyx. cd. ant-zen act208. 2006
m2. heliogabal. cd. ant-zen act248. 2010

more info on m2 and m.mootz' projects:
www.positionchrome.com
www.myspace.com/positionchrome

reviews:

chroniques electroniques
les inspirés habitués du label ad noiseam connaissent sans doute mieux m2 (prononcer squaremeter) sous son avatar panacea. c'est depuis la fin des années 90 que l'allemand mathis mootz se livre à ses triturations électroniques. on le connaissait officiant dans les breaks ciselés, la drum'n bass bien énervée et l'indus. heliogabal est un album orienté purement vers le dark-ambient. ce genre, profond et faussement minimaliste, ne compte que bien trop peu d'adeptes. je dois admettre que je ne m'y immerge moi même que trop peu souvent, en me contentant de puiser dans les sorties de labels tels que type records ou le présent ant-zen pour façonner un peu plus ma connaissance de cette face sombre et abyssale des musiques électroniques expérimentales. heliogabal est un disque où le silence joue autant son rôle que les atmosphères. plongé dans un dédale où se croisent des créatures hybrides venues de sombres mythologies, l'auditeur se retrouve dans un univers terrifiant. les drones et les sonorités post-industrielles sont légion, en parallèle à la totale absence mélodique. celui qui voudra écouter ce disque à l'aide d'un auto-radio aura l'impression de n'entendre que des dialogues entre radiateurs à l'agonie. il est donc important de posséder un matériel d'écoute digne de ce nom pour en saisir toute la subtilité. tout cela sent bon les rituels de sacrifice, le paganisme médiéval et les coiffes en capuchon. difficile d'accès pour les néophites mais génial pour ceux qui s'aventurent régulièrement dans ce genre de musique, heliogabal est un disque aussi exigeant que le public envers lequel il est destiné. maléfiquement introspectif, il n'est pas recommandé de l'écouter sous substances hallucinogènes. les trèsors de profondeur et de beauté sombre et abstraite que sont reigns, the sacred shrine, deus sol invictus, whores somke and shadows ou le terrible diptyque heliogabal méritent toute l'attention d'un auditoire plus qu'averti. en invitant m2 à plonger dans les méandres les plus sombres de son âme, la maison ant-zen a encore fait preuve de la plus grande inspiration pour livrer ici un énième essai à la mesure des compositions électroniques intelligentes et avant-gardistes. (ed loxapac)

der medienkonverter
die herrschaft des römischen kaisers elagabal währte nicht lang und war dennoch geprägt von verschwendung und dekadenz, von seiner missachtung der kaiserlichen pflichten sowie von orientalischen einflüssen auf die römische kultur, die er teilweise sogar selbst durch seine syrische herkunft einbrachte. elagabal, der eigentlich varius avitus bassianus und später als kaiser marcus aurelius antoninus hieß und den namen der von ihm verehrten gottheit elegabal bzw. heliogabal selbst nie getragen hatte, bekam ihn später von den geschichtsschreibern zugewiesen. aber springen wir nun aus der vergangenheit in die gegenwart. mathis mootz alias panacea alias squaremeter hat ein ganzes album diesem römischen kaiser gewidmet, der, wie viele vor und nach ihm, durch intrigen an die macht kam und dessen herrschaft mit seiner ermordung endete. nun könnte man annehmen, nachdem sich squaremeter auf dem vorgängeralbum "nyx" mit der düsteren seite der griechischen mythologie beschäftigt hatte, dass sein neues album "heliogabal" e was leichtfüßiger daher kommt, gerade wenn es um so einen kaiser wie elegabal geht. aber mathis mootz kann auch dem leben des ehemaligen kaisers vor allem die dunkle und unheilvolle seite abringen und deshalb ist "heliogabal" wieder ein hort der nervenaufreibenden, düsteren töne geworden. das spiel mit den auditiven pausen hat squaremeter beibehalten. "heliogabal" lebt von immer wieder aus der dunkelheit hervor gezerrten oder von selbst aufkreischenden tönen und geheimnisvollen, kaum wahrnehmbaren geräuschen. dazwischen herrscht immer wieder mal kurz stille und eine allgemeine, grollenende geräuschkulisse trägt ihr übriges zum beklemmenden klangbild bei. melodien werden, wenn überhaupt vorhanden, oft nur stückweise eingespielt oder nur angedeutet. dafür gibt es töne, die sich wie ein chor oder ein schnaubendes ungetüm anhören, alles mit viel hall unterlegt. der song "deus sol invictus" fällt anhand dieser beschreibung etwas aus der reihe, da er durch synthies und rhythmen ein ganz anderes, nämlich nicht so düsteres bild als der rest abgibt. wie die melodien sind auch die rhythmen auf ein schattendasein beschränkt, aus dem sie nur ab und an frei gelassen werden, was angesichts der atmosphärischen und dunkel-ambienten musik aber auch wenig verwundert. vielmehr hört sich "heliogabal" wie ein dämonischer ritt durch das leben des kaisers an, begleitet von brummenden drones und gewittrigem donnern. das album klingt wie die vertonung der unheilvollen aura, die von anfang an über dem jungen herrscher schwebte. wer squaremeters neues album hört, der weiß, damals war doch nicht alles besser und schön. nein, ganz und gar nicht, in vielerlei hinsicht sogar viel grausamer und unmenschlicher. das macht "heliogabal" mehr als deutlich spürbar.

bodystyler
nach einem ausflug in die griechische mythologie auf dem vorgänger "nyx", setzt sich mathis mootz nun mit dem römischen kaiser elagabal auseinander. dunkel und mystisch ziehen dabei die soundscapes durch den äther. sie wirken bedrohlich, werden immer wieder von stille oder obskuren geräuschen unterbrochen. als vergleich wollen dazu spontan werke von "raison d'etre" einfallen, die mit ähnlichen stilmitteln hantieren. "heliogabal" ist dabei allerdings ungleich schwerer zu fassen, da keine melodien oder rhythmen als anhaltspunkte dienen. zudem hat dieses werk nichts mit melancholie oder anderen warmen emotionen zu tun und wird somit hauptsächlich industriemusik-hardliner ansprechen. (brunner)

dside
il suono prodotto da mathis mootz, forse più noto con il suo progetto parallelo panacea, è qualcosa che viaggia parallelamente all'anti-luminosità. asettiche propagazioni di dark ambient e drones si accorpano in questa dodicesima realizzazione separata da un decennio dal debut "14id1610s" ed intercalata a presenze in almeno venti compilations oltre agli interessanti albums compresi nella discografia dell'artista tra i quali "war of sound" del 2003 e "the frozen spark" del 2005. il matematico appellativo m2 sta per "squaremeter", il titolo della release prodotta dalla ant zen è "heliogabal" ovvero "elagabal", termine coniato dai romani nell'età del ferro e simboleggiante il decadimento della cultura e delle tradizioni insite nella società conservatrice romana insidiata dalle sempre più pressanti influenze orientali presenti all'epoca. dieci episodi processati con assoluta freddezza compongono la track-list che apre con le profonde e lentissime emissioni di key appartenenti a "the priests" ritmata da un ferrigno apporto di prog succeduto dal silenzioso rombo che percorre il primo minutaggio dell'aliena "winds & ruins" interrotto da lancinanti e monoformi stacchi tastieristici simili ad un terrificante alfabeto d'alri mondi. altrettanto glaciale ed insondabile, "heliogabal i" erutta impressionanti quantità di magma elettronico, noises, abissali stridori, echi sotterranei, mentre la spietata inespressività di "relics of the undefeated guard" cristallizza, raggela il suono con ruggiti di tastiera e crudeli vocalizzi extraterrestri. "the sacred shrine" prosegue con un dark-ambient polare, sinistro, prodotto unicamente da una muta sequenza percussiva ed un anoressico apporto di key-sound analogamente a "reign", autentico distillato di suono inumano che si insinua con sorprendente efficacia tra le pareti cerebrali. le stesse sonorità udibili percorrendo i corridoi di un'astronave pleiadiana le riscontro in "deus sol invictus": synthetismi, radio-pulsazioni, intermittenze robotike, il tutto ammantato da un gelido apporto di key. non da meno gli ultraterreni innesti di "whores, smoke & shadows" inondano lentamente il suono facendolo precipitare verso l'oscurità, fino ad inesplorabili fondali oltre l'immaginazione, così come "square-dimensional space" si riveste nuovamente di buio assoluto generando silenzi attraversati da improvvisi getti di tossico vapore di laptop e metallurgici rumoreggi di sottofondo. "heliogabal ii" chiude la sequenza della title-track apponendo ad essa un indelebile sigillo originato da tenebrose sospensioni, filtraggi vocali ed inquietanti flussi di key a conclusione di un album altamente specifico, innaturale e gelidamente elaborato. arduo infine accomunare un significato di così antiche memorie come quello incluso nel concept di "heliogabal" a soluzioni di elettronica futuristica come quelle ascoltate nelle dieci tracce; tuttavia lo sforzo impiegato per fondere i due elementi ha prodotto un esito semplicemente sublime. le schiere di devoti al genere confermeranno. artista introspettivo, colto, acuto. un album saturo di ghiaccio ed alienazione, architettato con maniacale lucidità. accostatevi ad esso con reverenziale rispetto.

connexion bizarre
heliogabal, also known as elagabalus or marcus aurelius antoninus, was roman emperor from 218 to 222 ad, a half-syrian youth who served as a priest of the god el-gabal in his home town of emesa. taking imperial power at the age of fourteen, heliogabal was notorious for his disregard for roman traditions and sexual taboos, replacing the roman head god jupiter with the lesser deus sol invictus. the religious rites he promoted together with the promiscuous lifestyle he led resulted in his assassination by the praetorian guard only four years into his reign; m2's latest work is a tribute to this young man's disastrous rule and the exciting concept of a time where man had the potential of being a god. opening with the characteristic flourish of a dramatic tone followed by silence, "the priests" sets the scene for an intriguing tale, similar in atmosphere and ancient historical feeling as the previous m2 album, "nyx". but soon the stark minimalism of that album is replaced with a style reminiscent of earlier m2 works, with ambient electronica bass lines and melodies put to effective use together with subtle yet imposing rhythms. after the exotically occult rites of the opening, "winds and ruins" is an even more ominous affair, a desolate piece of pure dark ambient haunted by the sinister voices of forgotten deities and their followers. "heliogabal i" comes next, the most abrupt and decisive track on the album, possibly a soundtrack for the grand entrance of the great man himself, ready to lead his followers in another dark ritual. the memory of the praetorian guard is invoked in "relics of the undefeated guard", full of sudden outbursts of metallic slashing and frightening voices. "the sacred shrine" brings in some oppressive drumming and disturbing watery sounds, while "reign" is a curiously electronic sounding moment, ever so slightly at odds with the classical imagery of the whole album. "deus sol invictus" goes further in the electronica direction, but with a dramatic analogue synth tune paying suitable homage to heliogabal's preferred god. "whores, smoke & shadows" features a dense drone and a hazy ambience, conjuring up images of perverse pleasures in the name of the gods, and then "square-dimensional space" provides a lighter sensation, but with no lack of suspense and fear. finally, "heliogabal ii" is a powerful closing track, concluding the themes explored in the album perfectly with some of the tensest and most threatening sounds so far, possibly an aural depiction of the emperor's final moments. overall then this is one of the finest dark ambient albums to come out this year and a return to form for m2 after the slightly uneventful "nyx", providing a good mix between the more rhythmic older albums such as "aswad" and the minimalism of "the frozen spark", creating an outstanding soundtrack to one of the sadly under-explored tales of ancient history. (nathan clemence)

enochian apocalypse
so here is the tenth anniversary of squaremeter. i have numerous releases by this act, some don't always sit as well as others, but generally as a rule there is always something interesting to sink your teeth into. the first thing i noticed was that a lot of the tracks have some length to them, and upon listening to the album and spotting it's a purely ambient affair this made sense. opener' the priests' does have an arcane touch and flows and unfolds in a way that is engrossing and rich with a subtle tom in the background and sub range bass as a bed for the rising pads and harmonies and i credit him for the fact that in its 9 minute glory it passed by fairly quickly. i am sucker for immense and brutally dark ambient when its done well, and there is bucket loads on offer here; unfortunately after track three i started to zone out and switch off, the mid section of the album just going off on its own journey and by that time i was faffing around on my phone answering messages and social interaction groups while it plodded on in the background. re-listening i just went for these tracks on their own and they are of a high calibre; given the historical nature of the albums concept this should in theory work; but then again in theory, communism works. broken up and individually the tracks on offer are rich in depth and should be a dark ambient aficionado's wet dream, its just as a whole weaker for lacking variation from start to finish, which is a pity as its not the individual quality or production that's at fault. (tony young)

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