You might recognize the name Mystified through the artist's parallel project Mister Vapor, an album from which I've reviewed here. Mystified is Thomas Park's main project, that has gained quite some name not only due to its more than massive discography, but also due to its good quality. This particular album is the first part of the Eulogy Series, a serie of albums which features different artists creating their own eulogy in the form of music; they have different options, choosing between describing their own death as well as their passage to afterlife, the events leading to their death, and what-not.
"Passing Through the Outer Gates" describes the journey of mr. Park's soul from the Earth, going through various gates and passages, eventually leading into a calm resting place. I won't go into more detail about the theme as I don't want to spoil it all, so let's focus on the musical side from now on. Mystified has operated in the field of music for quite some time, and has done quite a few experimentations with different styles and genres; taking this into notion, it should carry no surprise that the album operates between many styles as well. Already during the opening eight-minuter we get to hear rather calm layer of ambient, which is based on an audible but still foggy enough pattern, with some bits of classical string-instrument synths as well as short features of retro-sounding sci-fi electronics in the back. The album doesn't sound as dark as I would've suggested, it's moreso mystical and rather peaceful.
The following tune, as pretty much all tunes on the album, follows the same line of style; they have an overall mellow and ambient-like feel, but sound far from flat or evened-out. The songs' patterns are based on fleshy but soft and overall very professional electronic synths that create utterly simple and rather repetitive patterns. These compositions are easy to follow, but be it either two simple melodies (a traditional ambient one and a classical one for example, such as on "Dark Transition") overlapping with each other or just one that's supported and enchanced by some a bit edgier and even slightly out-of-place electronic sounds, they have depth and function well. The artist surely didn't pick the easy route here, as at times the album got me thinking how the soundscape can work at all with such daring unions of sound. I must compliment the artist for his use of percussions, as be they a leading element (such as on the partly reversed "Lost My Body," or the tribal ones in "Approaching something") or present in the form of a few (at first glance) randomly placed beats, they give the songs a positive nudge forward every time they appear.
The classical elements and the soundscape are the main reasons I had doubts about the album. The classical instruments as well as the more traditional ambient-synths have a softened and a bit echoed sound, which fits as them being a not-present element in the soul's journey but a soundtrack to it, but it also eats up a layer of their depth in an attempt to make them create a deeper atmosphere and to sound more fitting. Their sound is both soothing and more or less powerful, but they lack character. Depite the really good compositions that are both mystical and story-wise purposeful, the soundscape is a bit too bare and even hollow for my tastes, and thus eats up quite a bit of the album's appeal. As said earlier, the orchestral instruments could've used some more character, as now they have little to give after the first couple of spins.
All the albums of the Eulogy-serie will come in a professionally made DVD-size digipack with a black front cover, which has a coffin-shaped die-cut that reveals just a bit of the actual cover image. If all the albums in the serie will look this good, I'll be more than pleased. Nothing more to add.
This album shares some of the same feeling as the Aspectee-album released by the same label, so if you liked it, there's some chance you'll like this one as well - even though the albums don't share a lot when it comes to their compositions. Aside of the somewhat hollow sounds, this album is very recommended to people with a taste for minimalistic but effective compositions as well as a broad taste in electronic music.