Friday, 19 April 2013

Arktau Eos - Ioh - Maera


Ambient music has always been a bit of mystery to me. Not because I don't like it, but because I've not really listened to a lot of it and being a metal fan first and foremost, I didn't know if there would be enough substance in it to interest me. I've listened to a number of different ambient releases over the last twelve months and I've reviewed them on this blog, but there's more out there, so the focus of this review is the one such mysterious Finnish entity named Arktau Eos.

This entity released to special releases through Svart Records last year. This release was solely on CD and the other release (Unworeldes, which I'll be reviewing at a later date) was solely on vinyl. I've been looking forward to experiencing this band for a while now, so thought it better not to waste any more time.

Tracklist:-

1. Unbinding Kaamos
2. Noxfaros
3. Sunken Luminaries
4. Ioh-Maera
5. Otherstone Refraction 

There’s a sense of trepidation as I press play on this release, as I'm not sure what I'm in for. After an initial build up of silence, subtle noises and instrumentation appears in opener Unbinding Kaamos. You can hear the crashing of cymbals in the background a mysterious sound that sounds like distant screams in the foreground. The chanting is very haunting indeed. Mostly atonal, it's very otherworldly! The chanting cries carry on throughout the opener and part of me feels like this is a joke, but I'm going to persevere and give it the chance it deserves. Maybe I'll feel differently after Noxfaros.

It's hard to talk about this in terms of musicality but at least Noxfaros seems to have more of a percussive edge, which is almost tribal. This is more like the ambient music that I'm used to hearing and I can fully appreciate the long length of each composition played by Arktau Eos. Noxfaros fades directly into Sunken Luminaries. The percussion makes way for winding streams of ambience that meander through the entire song. It's hard to pick out what the instruments are, as Arktau Eos are known for playing many different traditional and unusual instruments within their works, but I can pick out guitar as an obvious element. This isn't the sort of record you listen to when you want an instant fix but then that is true about a lot of ambient music.

The title track features more percussion and strange, whispered male vocals. They are pretty menacing and bring the haunting atmosphere to fore once again. The volume on this track actually builds as more elements are revealed, including what sounds like either wind chimes or cow bells. Otherstone Refraction starts in the same vein as the album opener, with slowly building noise and sounds of running water. It sounds very much like the atmospherics you heard while playing Silent Hill and it's very much meant to unhinge you. This is also the sparsest track on Ioh-Maera in terms of sounds and textures.

If I'm being honest, this album isn't for me, but there will be people out there amongst you that would lap this up. I'm not one for saying horrible things about albums and I'm not about to start now. If you're an ambient music fan, you should give this a try.

This is not streaming anywhere that I now of, however there are some Youtube videos by the band on their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Arktau-Eos

In terms of physical copies of this release, head over to Svart Records at http://www.svartrecords.com/shoppe/

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