Karl Sanders - Saurian Exorcisms
The End Records
World Music, Ambient
10 songs (47:19)
Release year: 2009
The End Records
Reviewed by Goat

The second album from Nile mainman Karl Sanders’ self-titled side-project continues along the same path that 2004’s Saurian Meditation started. For those not in the know, Sanders released the first album in his name to use leftover instrumentals and interludes from Nile, but it has taken five years for Saurian Exorcisms to arise, suggesting that he’s taking his time with this and created an album rather than just stuck some leftovers together. Saurian Exorcisms does seem a more complete and enjoyable album than its occasionally rather dull predecessor; there’s more emphasis on percussion and less on ambience this time around, Rapture of the Empty Spaces giving off a pleasingly Dead Can Dance-y vibe with the male and female wailing and complex ethnic instrumentation, most of it performed by Sanders. There’s a good deal of variety, the acoustic strums and percussion of Contemplate This on the Tree of Woe up against the ominous chants and invocation of A Most Effective Exorcism Against Azagthoth and His Emissaries – if you enjoy the spooky vibe that Nile’s instrumentals can have, then you’ll love this.

Although it’d be easy to pigeonhole Saurian Exorcisms as being for Nile fans only, there’s a great deal more to it than that. I mentioned Dead Can Dance above, and that’s the best comparison, but I can’t remember them ever being this ominous or overtly complex. The chants, percussion and, for want of a better term, whooshing of Slavery Unto Nitokris alone are simply gripping, forming a rhythmic pulse that is the very heartbeat of the Ancient Egyptian atmosphere that Sanders is seeking to invoke – those who foolishly doubt his proficiency as a musician should have their minds fully made up here. Whether it’s the baglama saz, the glissentar or the various percussion instruments, Sanders does a wonderful job, and although there are no nine-minute monsters like Of the Sleep of Ishtar here (the longest track being just over six minutes) he packs a lot in. Although tracks can be as short as the three-and-a-half-minute Kali Ma, an aggressive pounder with twisted, epic orchestration, they do generally seem to be pieces of music in their own right rather than mere bookends for bits of Death Metal, which is a good thing.

What I find particularly interesting is how Sanders creates all this without using frequent vocals. You can hear the occasional chants or bit of throat-singing, but mostly this is an instrumental project, and as much as I’d like to hear Lisa Gerrard’s gorgeous voice wailing all over it, Saurian Exorcisms never once suffers for lack of vocals as instrumental projects all too often can. Where vocals are used, they’re used exceptionally well – the strange, alien voices on Impalement and Crucifixion of the Last Remnants of the Pre-Human Serpent Volk, for example, changing to howls and screams mixed with clattering metallic percussion. I mention a few highlights below, but the truth is if you appreciate music of this sort then the whole album will be of interest for you – it’s a cliché, but turn out the lights, put on the headphones and turn this up, and the experience is amazing. Sure to be forgotten against the crushing might of the excellent new album from his main band, Saurian Exorcisms is nonetheless a remarkably good piece of music, showing the other side of Ancient Egypt and reminding what a brilliant talent Karl Sanders is, as if such a reminder was needed.

Killing Songs :
Rapture of the Empty Spaces, Contemplate This on the Tree of Woe, Slavery Unto Nitokris, Impalement and Crucifixion of the Last Remnants of the Pre Human Serpent Volk
Goat quoted 86 / 100
Other albums by Karl Sanders that we have reviewed:
Karl Sanders - Saurian Meditation reviewed by Jeff and quoted 70 / 100
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