Review: Jeremy Haladyna – Mayan Time Mayan Tales

Magic is materialising within the drip and splash of water on cold stone, illuminating the leaky cave walls in brief and sporadic bursts. One imagines the sound as a mysterious light that flashes throughout the pitch black, dancing with a vibrancy that gifts life and activity to a predominantly dormant and hollow space. The first three movements of Mayan Time Mayan Tales – entitled “Princess Of The 9 Cave” – represents time in the form of Haladyna’s 37-note “2012 scale”, which plunges into 3114BC at its lowest note and hits the present day at its highest. Alien electronics embark both up and down this scale, surging forward and backward through time, twisting Mayan history into mere seconds of glistening electronic tone; the souls of the dead resound into life and then vanish, secluded within a cave that seemingly operates independently from time’s linear unfolding.

Mayan Time Mayan Tales most engrossing at points such as this: when Mayan myth and spirit materialises as sonic forms of equally mysterious character. “The Crystal Skull Of Lubaantum” is another such example. Every sound is literally crafted out of glass – brittle percussive taps of glass rods on glass, cold whistles of water glass harmonica – operating on a scale that even in itself feels crystalline. Sound floats wondrously bent shapes, striking upon harmonics and overtones that feel as pure and clean as the source material from which they derive. It’s as visually evocative as the “Princess…” pieces, only instead of a damp cave arising in the imagination, it’s a crystal cavern of spotless transparency and beautifully carved edges, somewhat unsettling in its dazzling symmetry.

And while just as much conceptual forethought goes into each one of these pieces, those that utilise mostly classical instrumentation (piano most recurrently) feel somewhat less immersive. Dissonance and erratic dynamic feel like the product of musical composition as opposed to the channelled practices and narratives of Mayan mystique, while Haladyna’s extensive descriptions of concept and musical motive evoke mere understanding and acknowledgement of their poetic meaning rather than an instinctive, enveloping belief in them. He is an excellent conjuror of concept, and Mayan Time Mayan Tales is a very potent work when Haladyna permits this to inform every aspect of his work.