The Mystery of Heaven is the second collaborative album between lute revivalist and innovator Jozef Van Wissem and guitarist Jim Jarmusch to appear in 2012. The first, Concerning the Entrance Into Eternity, appeared on Important in the spring. It showcased a seemingly natural intimacy and near instinctive rapport between the pair. This date on Sacred Bones is very much a continuation of the dialogue begun on the earlier album, but also stands on its own with a few key differences. The brief "Etimasia" opens with Van Wissem using an alternate tuning to execute a minor-key progression on his swan neck lute. As Jarmusch answers and paints the margins with reverb and droning distortion, an element of tension and drama are articulated. They are resolved in yet another tuning in a shorter reprise near the end of the album. In "Flowing the Light of the Godhead," Van Wissem duets with Jarmusch directly by playing a 12-string electric guitar. Eleven minutes in length, it's a long, spacious, psych drone where feedback and distortion are melodic devices. The interplay is not unlike Spacemen 3's on Dreamweapon, though it's far more musically adventurous. Its textures, use of space, and restraint spiral out from the center into the unknown. The digital version of the set contains a bonus cut: a very different version entitled "Flowing Light of the Godhead (Eternal Sun)." The addition of actress Tilda Swinton's narration in the first half of "The More She Burns the More Beautifully She Glows" (based on a text by medieval mystic Mechthild of Magdeburg circa 1260 AD) sets up a gorgeous interplay where Jarmusch's feedback offers both support for Swinton and an introduction to Van Wissem's repetitive, nearly hypnotic lyricism on the lute. The guitarist then spins off, swirling and flowing in and out of the lutist's fingerpicked chord voicings, into an extremely colorful ether of single notes and skeletal yet expansive melodic lines of his own. Certainly The Mystery of Heaven is a standalone recording and is to be enjoyed on its own. That said, knowledge of Concerning the Entrance Into Eternity is edifying, because taken together, these two albums offer listeners a more complex portrait of a unique dialogue, where all elements -- spacial, sonic, lyrical, and textural -- create a profoundly beautiful musical language.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek