Saturday, August 21, 2010

Dark Rituals of Finland

Along with William Basinski's Disintegration Loops (2002) and the music of Morton Feldman, the Finnish ritual ambience from the Aural Hypnox label is probably the least suited for YouTube consumption. Like those, the true ritual stuff is meant to be approached as an all-encompassing, large-scale whole. Which is bad news for me, not being much of a music writer... So, what to do?

"Infra-Saturn"/"Exo" from Star Autopsy (2005)

Might as well start at the beginning (for me), which fortunately is on the more cosmic, less ritual end of the Hypnox aural spectrum. Zoät-Aon is a one-man crew from Lapland, and I really liked his first album Star Autopsy (#3, Drone/Ambient 2005).

Here's what I said:
Somehow vaguely related to Somnivore (#4), maybe that's how I found them. Whereas that project concerned the earthly, Zoät-Aon's terrain is the hyperverse. The machine-cycle-hum could be from spacecraft or the galactic axis. Occasional Ligeti-storms of Monolith noise-burst occlusion. A wormhole-tourism audio-pamphlet of alien topography, with field recordings of the fourth-dimensional, sun-eating birds of Arkh'torus XIV-b. Sounds like the apocalypse, or the universe being reborn.

"Bestial Waves" from The Triplex Bestial (2006)

Since I obviously liked it, I decided to get 2nd album, from the very next year, The Triplex Bestial. Zoät-Aon's journey is deep into the void, and it can be as harsh and dissonant as drifty and floating. You can also check out the opening track, "Gate of All Directions." As with all beginnings here, things take their time to get moving - it's real gradual. Album-length explorations of inner/outer space require some groundwork preparation, that kind of thing...

Zoät-Aon pretty regularly posts up free downloads too, but links are often temporary so get 'em now! At the Z-A homepage, you can download this "Representational Mix" (right-click Save As...) - a single 12-minute MP3. There's also (while it lasts) "The Mercury Drinker" from Finnish radio's Avaruusromua 20 vuotta special. "Space Junk" show's 20th anniversary... I once got a 2009 live recording of "The Explosion of Hermit Fire" that's already expired and gone.

Ai Ma Ra
Arktau Eos is another thing altogether, and that is ritual ambient. As their Myspace page tells it, they are influenced by "the songs taught to us by bones and stars." They sound like "a gnarled old tree telling you of worlds beyond, roots nestled in the constellations above and branches flowering in vaulted tombs below."

"Retrocession into the Astrolith" from Ai Ma Ra (2009)

That's the latest one, and it's a 2xCD set of wind-rustled forest spirits and esoteric cave druid spells. Apparently made with a minimum of electronics, but lots of temple bells and bone horns - the kind of ritualistic instruments the original rituals might have used. So, it ends up being two discs of rumbling drones, primitive rhythms, and moaning chants. Quality stuff! I think some are live recordings from a London performance, but a lot of it sounds like live performance in a hillside cave.

"A Banquet for Ghosts" from Mirrorion (2006)

The earlier Mirrorion puts 17 tracks on a single disc. They do some of the same kind of thing, but with more electronic noise and stringed instruments. I haven't listened to this one as often as Ai Ma Ra, but it does seem like a better entry point - more appropriate for different moods. Also, check out "Nether-Desert Iris" and "Obsidian Pyramid" from the same album.

Arktau Eos have a website. They are a duo, made up of two guys named Antti. One of whom is also in Halo Manash...

Antti of Halo Manash and Arktau Eos also runs the whole Aural Hypnox label.

"Consummation - Bathed in Sacred Fire" from Taiwaskivi (2009)

Whereas Arktau Eos' ritual take a winding textural pathway through the mystic, this last one from Halo Manash builds directly up - from the roots so to speak. Not only is this record the third in a conceptual trilogy, "a tripartite series of works that are part of one holistic creation – a treelogy, with seed, root, trunk and finally, branches. Being the culmination of an ascending journey through the aforementioned realms within and without, Taiwaskivi is the celestial crown at the peak, reaching toward Sol, source and beyond..." The album itself grows from the traditional introductory hum, building in presence and intensity, through titles like "Burial - Self-Flesh Given as Offering to All" and "Conjunction - A Vessel Springing with Nectar from the Skybound Source." Until the final consummation of both triad series and component part, excerpted above. This one comes with a full-album video conceptualization dvd as well.

Halo Manash: Taiwaskivi (trailer)

Now I just need to find that multi-region DVD player for all these European discs. By the way, this post is technically part of the "3 Who Would..." series of genre spotlights. I just liked my title better!

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