Shrine (Hristo Gospodinov) is a Bulgarian ambient project started in 2003. In 2008 he did a split release with artist Lingua Fungi, who collaborated recently with Alio Die on the Hic Sunt Leones CD "Otter Songs." Shrine's debut for Cyclic Law, "Somnia," is a great example of Cyclic Law's recent branching out from the doom & gloom aesthetic into more "classic" ambient styles, and presents some incredibly lush soundtracks for the lucid dreamstate. The floating jellyfish adorning the cover artwork give a hint of thte album's preoccupation with watery themes; in fact, "Somnia" literally drips with moisture and atmosphere.
Opener "The Grand Design" fuses gently tinkling melodic sequencers with water and seagull sounds. Amazing second piece "Immersion," with achingly melancholic choral voices and heavenly electronics, sounds like a baptism in a radiant blue sea. "Lost Beauty" continues this theme, adding what brings to mind high-pitched pan pipes calling out a lonely song. "Dream Captured in Stone" displays the Alio Die influence with singing cicadas, scraping stones, and a hymn-like synth melody. Some harsher textures do occasionally bubble up to the surface, reminding the listener this IS Cyclic Law after all(!) Still, "Somnia" manages to fall somewhere between the organic textural style of Alio Die and more melodic, almost commercially-accessible instrumental electronic music, spiked with an intermittent dark edge. I found several of the pieces to be stunningly beautiful and quite spiritual, making "Somnia" one of the most memorable Cyclic Law releases in quite some time, and a very strong debut (for exposure to a wider audience) for this promising artist.