Salfordian rapscallion Paddy Shine is the sentient being behind the mesmeric song cycles of AYN SØF, the north-western mover and shaker (Gnod, Dwellings & Druss and Tesla Tapes are some of the key points on his CV) crafting two 30-minute slices of hypnotic drone hymns that mix the primordial vibrations of throat singing with ethereal plainsong chants and tripped out electronic flourishes.
Shine’s moniker here probably derives from the term Ein Sof, which in the Hebrew Kabbalah refers to a kind of religious infinity, God before any physical manifestation, as my esteemed colleagues in Wikepedia put it. Heavy. But I doubt whether this indicates any megalomaniac urge on Shine’s part. Instead, his woozy, amniotic bubbles of sound create a meditative, egoless space, ripe for prolonged astral submersion, with the common elements shared between the two pieces – including bass vocal loops and higher-register chants – emphasising the feeling of a timeless eternal present, a serpentine Ouroboros-like loop or a moment of eternal becoming.
Central to this is Shine’s low, deep vocalisations that echo over the opening sections of both pieces, returning periodically throughout. While his technique bears some resemblance to Mongolian throat singing, the drowsy, liturgical atmosphere he creates brings to mind Jocelyn Pook’s Masked Ball, most famously featured as the soundtrack to pervy occultism in Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut, its disturbing vocal line created by running a section of Orthodox Liturgy, chanted in Romanian, backwards. But, even with those connotations, AYN SØF swerves away from freak-out territory. Instead, it works more as a mantra of acceptance of the darkness in everything as an equal and opposite part of the light. Not so much Sith Lord as the eternal yin and yang circling at the bottom of the universe and resonating through all of creation.
Side A’s Somnes sees several layers of those gauzy, keening exhalations overlapping in blissed-out cycles of repetition, as if the best Gregorian choir in the north west had licked up a chalice and got down to a heavy jam session after hours in the vestry. Shine’s content to let things run and run, and why not, when things are set so beautifully in their right place. Electronic scuffs and a heartfelt extended yodel add some additional touches of ornamentation towards the end, and they’re all good.
If Somnes was a cosmic lullaby, Nihil’s slow burn of a sitar riff is a dawn raga, its circling melodies as lazy as a Sunday morning in the ashram. It’s a groovy contrast to what’s gone before, but it eventually gives way as those voices fade in then out again like waves on the beach, finally giving way to a shining wall of echo and crackling electronics. Despite having moved from the cathedral to the control room, the mood is consistent, even though the sound sources aren’t, the plangent bleeps like a plainsong’s degraded digital copy, playing out for all eternity.