HALO MANASH: Wesieni Wainajat CD Aural Hypnox
Living and breathing their music through what appears to be some form of occult knowledge/belief system, has provided Halo Manash with at least some sense of continuity and concept that drives each album as one whole organism.
‘Wesieni Wainajat’ is mainly built from organs, field recordings and other instrumentation, which I am quite unsure of. Mysticism prevails throughout this lengthy affair, where ritualism provides the listener with music that is otherworldly and dripping in arcane sensibilities.
Neither solely producing Dark Ambient, or anything as monolithic as the guitar driven Sunn O)), they sit somewhere in between; but are no less ominous in their approach. You can almost visualise Halo Manash conjuring this up from the bowels of a Scandinavian forest, clawing at the earth whilst beacons burn into the witching hour.
For some, this mainly Finnish act will be hard to consume as they pander to no particular crowd, whilst inviting welcome gestures from many a genre that toys with similar subject matter. The end result; is an album of purely night driven music that oozes in atmosphere and hidden esotericism that is as engaging as it is cloaked in a web of hidden horrors.
I.CORAX: From Goldem Flesh to Silverb One / Kuilu CD’s Aural Hypnox
‘From Goldem Flesh to Silverb One’ is a re-issue of I.Corax’s third album, which had endured a period of unavailability. This has been credited as a live studio rehearsal, in preparation for a show in 2003.
Given the nature of how this has been cobbled together, this comes across as on as one singular experience built up from eight untitled pieces of work that join at the hip. Mysterious drones and ritualistic Dark Ambient atmospherics interweave and meld into a pot of disorientation; whilst undercurrents of natural sounds and whispers scatter the waves like some hidden incantation.
The overall effect is quite jarring and unnerving; and I can imagine that with the appropriate visualisations, this would be quite effective in a performance environment. In one sitting at home however, it can be a little weighty and distracting to endure end to end; as the live nature of this album does give way to a slight lack of cohesiveness. This can of course be forgiven in equal measure and all in all this is a solid piece of work from start to finish.
‘Kuilu’ is the sister album in release terms to the former (indeed both have been released as a limited box set as well as separate items. On this occasion this recording is taken from the bands debut live show, comprising of four tracks that span over 40 minutes in total. Careful thought had been placed into providing a performance that starts of relatively subdued, only to rise to dramatic effect as it trudged ominously forward; culminating in a wash of Progressive Space synth sounds.
It’s interesting to note, that later work from this act provides a more visceral experience than what I experienced throughout the course of these two albums; and it appears as time moves forward, I.Corax are falling deeper down the path of madness mapped out from their inception. Scoring is based on the both albums played back to back as a whole.
LINGUA FUNGHI: Melankhton CD Aural Hypnox
Field recordings more often than not have received many a bad review from me over the years, where I have encountered a vast amount of pointless nonsense. Luckily, Lingua Funghi utilise an array of acoustic instrumentation to gel the natural sound sources just as a base foundation to their work.
Drones and reverbs are the order of the day, alongside an array of tribal rhythms to create a barrage of ethereal and other worldly apparitions of sound, that for me actually work best when the drums are kept to a minimum.
Underneath everything is a bed of wire like electronics that edge towards modernised glitch; that build a spiders web for everything else to slowly drip off. There is more than the odd smattering of Dark Ambient along the way too to fill out the mix.
This is a peculiar album that teeters on the edge of two or three lower genres under the DA umbrella. I am less taken with the electroacoustic work on ‘Melankhton’, which comes across a little bit too much like sat at a campsite in Tibet, suffocating in a cloud of incense.
However, the key thing to remember here is that everything is performed well enough for me to brush aside my personal likes and dislikes; and I am sure there will be others who prefer this to the arcane groans and grit that are more up my street.
Overall, on a professional level, this beautifully screen printed re-issue works well for variation and structure; where the balance greatly shifts from dark to light at the drop of a hat.
ARKTAU EOS: Scorpion Milk CD Aural Hypnox
Rather than calling themselves a ‘band’ in the traditional sense of the word, Arktau Eos refer to themselves as an “esoteric exploration unit”; which in fairness, does fit somewhat with the fruits of their labour.
This should be approached as a singular meditative release. The album consists of just one long minimalistic track (48:04), utilising the bare bones of what appears to be acoustic instrumentation, such as bows and possibly other stringed items; culminating in a series of ranged drones.
Spatial awareness is the key and strength to the end result of ‘Scorpion Wind’. Silence plays as much of a role as sound, in providing omnipresent glue for barely audible chants to roam the catacombs, whilst forbidden whispers are muttered in secret corners.
There is without doubt, going to be a somewhat marmite response to an album such as this, now it has been re-packaged and re-issued to a larger audience. On one hand there isn’t a great deal to inspect or say when approaching a release such as this (such is its minimalism); yet somewhere within the realms of the void this presents, I cannot help but score this decently due to the preposterous nature it presents as music, Akin to a stripped down and less urgent, narcoleptic Sunn O))).
I.CORAX: Cadaver Pulse I & II CD’s Aural Hypnox
Sequentially sub-titled as ‘Sealed in a Radiant Larval Maelstrom’ and ‘Mothelix Liquescent’, I have to admit it’s a daunting task at hand when approaching what is effectively, one larger album set over two discs.
As another log in Aural Hypnox’s ‘Stellar Mansion’ series; the course of these two albums take the listener on journey through experimental Dark Ambient dreamscapes of monolithic proportions.
The demands that I & II respectively ask of the listener are nothing short of ridiculous, but ultimately rewarding. Disc one, draws on elements of Industrial tinged DA, with strains of background Power Electronics. The end result treading the familiar pathways of a more traditional sound that we have come to expect from the genre, whilst still daring to venture into more experimental territory.
Disc two, ‘Mothelix Liquescent’ provides some respite, whilst providing its own psychedelic battle, does offer some light to the proceedings by coming across brighter; shining a welcome beacon on the exit point of the somewhat nightmarish paths trodden over the course of both albums, clocking in together as well over two hours in total.
To attempt producing such a task as these two albums provide, deserves kudos; with much of the work being recorded live (specifically disc 2). To approach such a lengthy concept demands focus and a great deal of professionalism to the job at hand, as not to deviate from the end result. Here, I.Corax have to be applauded for giving a sense of weight; with shifting shapes of sound, that have the ability to crush the listener to the deepest chasms, whilst launching them to the highest astral planes in equal measure; more often than not, on the same track.
Re-packaged and re-issued, this is worth picking up if you are any self-respecting fan of Dark Ambient and all its sub-avenues. Scoring is based on the whole prospect, as this is how they both should be absorbed. Whether you can do this in one sitting or not is another issue.
AEOGA: Temple Treye CD Aural Hypnox
Featuring of members of ambient group Halo Manash, there was going to be (structurally at least) some form of crossover and similarities between this act and their main outlet of sound exploration.
Once again there is an undercurrent of ritualism that fits with the musicians (and indeed the labels’) modus operandi. The main difference between the two, being that this outfits sounds ever so slightly less organic at its base ambient core; with opener ‘Feast of the Stance’ utilising some trademark horns, floating over the foundations of gritty electronic low pitched drones.
The utilisation of gongs permeate ‘Between the Crescent Hooks’, but they ultimately dissolve into what sounds like distorted guitar based feedback and light pitter-pattering rhythms that contrast well with the change of pace of the church organ led ‘Telemorphic Cuts’.
There is a lot on offer with ‘Temple Treye’ as the sound across the album changes direction on multiple occasions; and this in turn keeps the listener curiously engaged. Off-key notes provide an aura of underlying madness from an ever-present abyss; and whilst this does provide an element of unsettlement, this in turn, does drive the overall atmosphere to great effect.
HALO MANASH: Caickuwi Cauwas Walkeus CD Aural Hypnox
This is a re-issue of what was an extremely limited edition first press and a worthy one at that.
Seamlessly flowing from start to finish, over the course of five lengthy tracks, a story is told under the guise of Finnish funeral sermons from the 18th century. The music itself is befitting of the concept; and is solely comprised of acoustic instrumentation.
From the opening resonations of the muted gongs, the listener is thrown deep into a ritualistic bed of horns and drones that reverberate to great effect. Halo Manash present here, what they interpret as a return of lost primeval forest hymns; and being the first in the series of albums from the label’s ‘Stellar Mansion’ series, that capitalise on past “Helixes Transmissions, sent back from distant stars”. There has been a great deal of thought from both parties thrown into the mix; and it ultimately shows.
Overall, ‘Caickuwi Cauwas Walkeus’ is great representative body of work from the scene it has risen from; and a perfect meditative release from the normalities that this world presents, stepping forward into a deeper underbelly of arcane mystery.