Whirlpool of Souls – Pegged for 25th Anniversary Re-release

The release of the album “Whirlpool of Souls” in 2001 marked a pivotal moment for Mystral Tide, a project which would later transition into becoming Minorarc as we know it today. Recorded in a tiny Tokyo apartment on equipment mostly loaned from work colleagues and friends, a vast majority of the audio was recorded live directly into a 400Mhz PC. It was the first and only release from the era which wasn’t self-published, and our relationship with what was then Zeitgeist Records, a bespoke Brisbane record label, had an incredible influence on Ivan’s future as a musician.

Sean Cooper, the label’s founder, was responsible for far more than just an album’s manufacture and distribution. The friendship with Sean is a lifelong one, and through him the project went on to collaborate and build connections with numerous independent musicians such as those from SleepLab and Sarcophony (who appear as guest artists on several of the related project’s following tracks). The positive feedback to the album via online reviews and published coverage came too as a lesson. A little known artist from Japan, and then Australia, appeared to have something that a few precious individuals thought worthy of writing about. This led to opportunities to perform in Japan, Europe and Australia, and saw Mystral Tide collaborate with Seij minus aÇ for the Wave Gotik Treffen festival in 2002.

None of the above could have come about without the investment of time and finances by Sean Cooper into “Whirlpool of Souls”. It wasn’t just about pressing CDs, printing artwork or posting music out across the world. It was about one man’s belief that Mystral Tide deserved to be heard. In a world devoid of Sean’s passion and faith, it is hard to believe that Ivan would have continued a musical journey that goes on until this very day. In the life of an independent and experimental musician, gifts such as those offered by Sean are very few and far between. In the twenty years since, with the demise of physical media and transition into “streaming”, it has become increasingly difficult for artists to land such opportunities, so it only seems fair to look back, and be thankful, for all the doors this release would open. Furthermore, Sean’s passion was infectious. It was part of the inspiration for the founding of projects such as DEMUS, Darkstereo and Melbourne’s Enzyme series of events. Ivan had witnessed the impact of one individual, and wanted to make such opportunities available to others recording music far outside of mainstream expectations.

“Whirlpool of Souls” was something of an experiment and learning process, not just in marketing and distribution, but also in recording. Still coming to grips with the technology of the day, investing in tools that a meagre day-job could allow, the work was completed in a low-tech environment. For what it lacked in hardware, it attempted to make up for with emotion. Aside from small moments of sampling, and software-generated rhythm parts, instruments were simply plugged into a computer and recorded “dry”. No midi clock sync, in fact no midi at all. No VST instruments. No mastering effects. None of the magical producer tools that sit in many a current creator’s arsenal. Listening back, one can hear how production values have changed. It is a release that was comfortable in its concept, but exceedingly uncomfortable in its delivery. The New Empire Online hit the nail on the head really, with its review.

So why are we writing about all this nostalgia? In 2026 “Whirlpool of Souls” will be 25 years old. What would happen if we took everything we’ve learned and experienced since, and paid the recordings a re-visit? In what context would an early Mystral Tide work sit, within today’s sonic landscape and the project’s current form as Minorarc? It only seems fair to everyone who supported the release, and solidified our future, to take a journey and find out.

From folders loaded with CD backups, we’ve spent many weeks trawling through the album’s original recordings. Some files could be rescued. Others have suffered the fate of time. From this partial jigsaw of audio we’ve managed to retrieve just enough. Enough to make it viable to translate the album’s tracks into something new, be it through post-production work or the painstaking task of re-recording sections on different instruments. Thus far, it will not be the “Whirlpool of Souls” you might know, but our hope is to bridge a gap between what we were back then, and what we are right now. There is a lot to be said for the benefits of aging, and finding something akin to contentedness. The release date is far from being established, but with a deadline sat deep into 2026, we hope to have this all in the realm of feasibility…