An Ancient Initiatory Rite in the world’s largest maze
Disclaimer: This is definitely not a musical review. As SUNN are certainly not (just) a band. This is also not a review at all. This is a subjective presentation of an “event” so unique in itself and so genuine, that makes it impossible (in this form) to be repeated and is only valued by the experience of the person writing it; which ultimately makes it also extremely subjective in the sense that I could possibly describing what my eyes see and what is demanded of me to experience. And really, I’m just writing it for myself alone, as by writing it I can get some closure and get on doing what I was doing before it happened.
“Volcanic eruptions, worlds collide, planetary destruction”
“Slow whispers and echoes of chants”
“Bone shattering resonance and the birth of a God”
Sometimes things just work. They work. Ηow Ι never know, in the sense that many times artists create something that follows a perfect archetypical order without actually knowing it or realising it fully (which is how it’s supposed to be anyway-you should act/create without going through the process of analysing what you do before it), although in this case I have the feeling it was conscious and planned. And what that was, is a perfect re-enactment of an ancient mystery.
Labyrinto Della Masone
This amazing construction was built by Franco Maria Ricci near Fontanellato in Parma, Italy. Parma’s vast wealth comes from its world-class meat and dairy products, the well-known Parmigiano Reggiano and Prosciutto di Parma, although it also has a long history in the musical world.
Spreading over 80.000 sq. meters, Labyrinto Della Masone is a star-shaped labyrinth based on the Roman Labyrinth construction and is the largest labyrinth in the world.
Its creator Franco Maria Ricci, is a renowned publisher, designer, art collector and bibliophile. The labyrinth started as an idea, but it became reality when promised to Jorge Luis Borges, who was also fascinated by the symbolism of the labyrinth, represented strongly in his books.
The Labyrinth is one of the greatest symbols to represent the human condition, the journey of the human being through the cosmos or allegorically the soul’s trials through the darkness before it reaching completion in absolute light, and is equally spread among all ancient traditions. The three main types are the Greek, the Roman, and the Christian labyrinth with the earliest labyrinth being the Cretan one, a circular labyrinth of seven courses.
As above, so below, as within, so without, as the universe, so the soul… and in that sense all is represented by the seven-pointed labyrinth echoing the seven hermetic laws. And through those laws and in that maze lost, the Individual has to rise and realise the existential process and revolve against it, revolt against all those powers who try to keep him bound and imprisoned, for her/his eventual completion in the birth of a Sun and the exit from the labyrinth, their return as a comet smashing through Earth, the return of a God.
Act I (Overture – Taiko Performance by group Fudendaiko of Fudenzi Monastery, Parma / Video Projection by group N! 03 ):
My introduction to Taiko drumming happened a few years back with Takuya Taniguchi, an amazing Taiko performer from a collaboration with Walter Lang. Taiko is a general term for Japanese drumming, but the Taiko that served as the ritual opening of Finis Mundi has to be looked for in the Zen Buddhist Tradition together with its performers.
The massive and fierce drumming of the performers, dressed in black and arranged behind long panels of red light brings everyone together and stops them from ravaging the local produce. This is the call to a ritual of the old ways, wanting to break reality with its sheer force and passion.
The continuation is a video projection by group N! 03, appearing on the same transparent panels Fudendaiko played behind.
FINIS MUNDI is written and world class destruction and creation lights the yard. Volcano eruptions, the fallen angel, buildings collapsing, Apocalypse in all its magnificence.
In this part the initiate is presented with the world outside, before entering the world inside to try and conquer it. It is a standard process found in all traditions, with one name for it being the chamber of reflection; a dark room of which the individual is left alone in darkness, to reflect on all those in need of transformation, to conquer those fears and seek further light.
Act II (Entering the Maze/Shiva Nataraja):
The doors eventually open and the direct path to the Pyramid is blocked. The path leads through the maze. Rare lanterns on interchanges light the path accompanied by masked women and men who show the way. We are walking in darkness hearing echoes of chants that we assume are coming from the centre. The path primarily gave the illusion and assurance of being guided for a while, so when we actually reached the point of multiple paths, laughter and confusion commenced. Others followed the ones in front of them, others diverted, some turned back and tried other paths and few realised that any path would lead to the Pyramid and just walked.
Before entering we are faced with blinding light. This part is done and we are now at the centre of the Maze.
Act III (Dramaturgy & Illumination):
After near blindness and as our eyes start functioning again we see the magnificence of the Centre. Dimly lit floors of golden light with stone walls that stretch towards the night sky and with a constant stream of fog being moved by the light air, we face the glory of the Wall under the Pyramid. People have already swarmed to the merch table hoarding tshirts and releases, with me grinning at already having everything and with my immediate regret being the need to buy the Labyrinth shirt. Labyrinth wins again.
We wait and we wait again.
My lack of desire in drinking (rare) helped me stay away of the monstrous queue to the bar, much much longer by what a Greek faces when grand-zombies form in pension day.
We wait and we wait.
I catch myself reflecting on many things, from the beauty of Italians, to my rotten feet from my endless walks in the Parma province and the fact that I brought and odd amount of socks with me, to murmuring lyrics from My Wall, “…and the heavy metal of the heathen bells, Meddlesome meddlesome meddlesome bells…”, then beans, come winter so I can make bean stew.
Everything goes dark and we swarm (in a SUNN show that’s slowly pacing) the stage. And then it happens:
ATTILA CSIHAR comes like a Caesar, in the role of the High Priest on top of the Pyramid’s entrance, chanting and reaching away, then rising towards the Stars in an attempt to bring it all down, then powering the Earth again. People have difficulty absorbing it, some laugh, others stay silent, but most are overtaken by Awe. He’s a willow tree in dark cloak, a true ancient paradigm, one with the world becoming its voice.
‘Who are those hooded hordes swarming…’ I’m thinking and SUNN under the dark veil one by one take positions on the stage. This is the end I’m thinking. Our world is lit by blinding light again with pillars of fog streaming in every direction while the power of amps starts filling the air, invading every inch of cosmic void and breaking once and for all reality to its deepest foundation.
I am yelling. I am finally complete.
The vibrations rise and rise, Attila joins them on stage. From this point and on I am lost in resonance, fog and void, the building blocks of my world are all present devouring it.
“Play your gloom axe…”
Hands are raised to drop fierce on us through sonic doom.
“GLORY TO THE UNDYING SUNN…”, I’m chanting. “GLORY TO THE UNDYING SUNN…”
Greg & Steven leave the stage to Attila, Tos and Steve and Attila’s voice joins Steve’s trombone in a shattering dirge.
“This is a dream…” I think only to be followed by Greg & Steven taking the stage alone with the blue gates of death in light taking over and the two of them conquering time on us all.
“Dying God comes into human flesh”
The continuation and final act is the birth of a God. Attila as crowned Prometheus, shattered, the light-bringer crawls, rises and falls, breathing astral fire. “Bring it all down, bring it all down”.
At this point I am lost. The constant stream of fog with Attila’s glass body and crown throwing light through, the rise and fall of hands and guitars and the resonance in its absolute creates a non-moving constant in time that I am there and not, I have stopped. People around me have stopped.
Finally Void Profound. FINIS MUNDI.
Hoods and crowns, trombones and axes stay on the side and SUNN return on stage sharing our absolute excitement to be given a total and complete applause. Numb, exhausted and probably confused, people would hang around for the next hour and a half or so until vacating one of the most fascinating places one could ever visit.
Truly thank you for this experience.