On this new release from May 2010, Emanations of a New World, ARCN TEMPL (Leslie Low and Vivian Wang from The Observatory) take the listener on a journey to their childhood memories of hell. Inspired by possibly the creepiest theme park in the world, Singapore’s Haw Par Villa (originally called Tiger Balm Gardens), this album is a musical response to the mythology-inspired theme park, which include exhibits focused on Chinese folklore such as a depiction of “The Ten Courts of Hell” (don’t miss the “Filthy Blood Pond”).
The sounds are pretty, a bit haunted at times, spacy in places, somber and nostalgic. The darkest piece is “Eighteen Steps of Evil,” features screeches and scrapes. “Four Rivers of Melancholy” is an amazing journey, that starts with guitar and voice and includes a far away whistle like a beckoning train, leads into an ominous shudder, and builds into a fuller, more psychedelic sounding piece. It all ends with “A Thousand Arms of Mercy,” a track with perhaps a sampled male narrator, hopefully telling us to not worry, that this trip to hell and back was only a ride…Luckily we have the lovely sounds to soothe us all the way through.