Viginti Tres Saecula (meaning 23 Ages) is a rather mystical project, meaning that they give out only a really minimal amount of info. This project is a kind of fusion of the projects "Natural Faith Project" and "F.Leo-Crowey", but to me that doesn't say much. One of VTS's aims is to explore "the pure sexual energy of magick", and thus this record (their debut under this name) was born: the soundtrack for the rite of blood and sperm. The ritual is divided in three parts; Preparation lasts for eight minutes, Ritual lasts for 34 minutes, and Gleanings lasts for three minutes.
Preparation starts with some ritualistic bell tolls (that occasionally reappear on the track), but soon the soundscape is taken over by some high organs that create rather disturbing ambience with no real melody or pattern. At four minutes a high, distorted sound takes it place, only to be overruled by a slow and simple bass(y) pattern that makes the high distortion fall back to serve as rather eerie background ambience. It starts to fade slowly, until the organs make a brief comeback in the end of the track. The track's overall atmosphere is rather eerie and disturbing, but also really fascinating.
The ritual begins. Low droning sound creates the background and some harsher high sounds are creating both ambience and patterns. Both of these sounds are audible for the track's whole lenght (except for the short and calm organ part around twenty minutes), but they vary so much in tone, volume and patterns that they don't get dull at all; they are fused into a one higher and ever-evolving beast. There's a rather wide variety of sounds (and some low spoken vocals) that just pop up occasionally during the track, making it more interesting and addicting while enchancing the atmosphere. The ritual varies between ambience, harsh ambience and occasionally even harsher violence, sounding interesting for it's whole lenght despite the soundscape being of the less appealing kind. A more thorough analysis on the track would be a waste of time no matter what of it's elements I would list; the soundscape is far more great than it's parts. There are some sections in the track that would've benefited from more elements, but it can be understood as the release more a soundtrack than anything else; calmer and emptier parts are needed.
Gleanings begins with a surprisingly peaceful piano melody that is repeated most the track's lenght. There's some powerful orchestral percussions here and there, but most of the track consists of the piano melody and some minimal but interesting ambience-sounds that have been tweaked to sound just a bit disturbing and somehow calm... and otherworldly. There's also some low, spoken vocals, but I'll leave figuring out their message to you.
The songs are composed so that just a rather small amount of sounds is audible at one time, making it more easy to understand the whole, to get a good image of it, and to digest it. The small amount of sounds doesn't damage the songs at all, but on the contrary it makes them very interesting and addicting. They have been put together with undeniable talent, dedication, and a clear vision. There's also a bunch of sounds that appear only once or so during the album, keeping things interesting and providing more listening value.
I feel that I cannot review this record as well as it would deserve, as it comes from a world which I do not know, and I'm not sure what purpose it serves and what it's trying to sound like; thus I can only mostly focus on the purely musical side of the record. Dedicated, original, well composed and executed fusion of dark and harsh ambient and drone with a clear vision, purpose and a strong, pleasantly disturbing atmosphere. It might take while to learn to appreciate the soundscape, but it's worth the time.