Karl Sanders – Saurion Meditation

Karl Sanders – Saurion Meditation – 3.5/5

Now, I expect the name Karl Sanders means little to the majority of people reading this, but if I mentioned the band ‘Nile,’ I’m sure many more would feel more familiar. What we have here is the result of the Nile frontman’s Ambient side project, with a heavy Egyptian feel as you may have expected. Now it must be said, I am not a fan Nile, but nonetheless I was curious to see what he could produce.

The main aim of the piece is to sound atmospheric, complete with acoustic guitars tuned to an Egyptian scale, prominent drum beats, and subtle keyboard work, he performs his objective beyond any shadow of a doubt. It is not hard with this music to be transported back to a time wrought with oppressed slaves at the hands of evil pharaoh’s and where sacrifices to the sun god Ra were common. This has such a dark, oppressed nature that it came as a shock, but even more of a shock is its submissive tone – completely contrasting his work with Nile.

The album opens with “Awaiting the Vultures,” which acts a perfectly descriptive title for the song, as you find yourself with a good acoustic riff, and most notably a heavy drum beat, which creates a slight amount of tension within the track, the sound of a silent fear for what lies ahead, which works well in preparing you for the rest of the album. This drum beat would prove vital to the sound in many of the tracks, working most successfully with the acoustic guitar in order to create the atmosphere, especially noted on “Of the sleep of Ishtar,” working with choral vocals which sound like a form of chant.

But the album does have its flaws. The use of the electric guitar, notably on “the elder god shrine” doesn’t fit. It draws you away from the world he so successfully immersed you in before, and whilst it still sounds fitting to the song, undermines the atmosphere the rest of the track creates. Furthermore, a large number of the tracks begin to merge together. Because of its consistently dark and foreboding atmosphere, and the lack of a variety in the instruments and the way they are used, many of the songs quickly begin to sound very much alike. This severely hampers its replay value. There are a few notable exceptions to this, for example “contemplations of the endless abyss” is performed entirely by vocal work, adding something of a break between tracks.

Essentially what we find ourselves presented with is an atmosphere, which is perfectly fitting for a soundtrack, or for listening to quietly in the background whilst doing something else, but under sustained listens finds itself severely lacking. It doesn’t demand much attention, and whilst in some cases this is a good thing, more often than not I want to find myself unable to stop paying attention to the music reaching my ears.

Highlights: Of the Sleep of Ishtar, Dreaming through the eyes of a serpent

By T. Bawden