Music Reviews

Artist: [ówt krì] (@)
Title: Pilgrimage
Format: CD
Label: Erototox Decodings (@)
Rated: *****
[ówt krì] is the project name of Kenneth K. from Helsinki, Finland, and 'Pilgrimage' is the followup release to his 2013 debut, 'The New Seed'. 'Pilgrimage' continues the journey spawned by the prior release, a trip into humanity's inner world [ówt krì], that deep part of the psyche where spirituality dwells in the non-physical darkness. It's almost impossible to separate the esoteric from the mundane in the music of [ówt krì], as it is intertwined by virtue of having to actually "make" music than just imagine it. How well that translates we shall soon see. 'Pilgrimage' is comprised of eight tracks, beginning with "Static Continuum", not only the name of the track, but also a Finnish experimental ambient project that includes [ówt krì] - Keyboards, Synths and various oddities /Sounds From The Marshes - Guitar, Effects / and Quantum Prana - 7 string Guitar. It's the perfect opening to this strange journey, with free form electric guitar riffing over ambient pads and drones. No drums or percussion, just waves of rumbling sonics heralding what's to come; a chaotic (yet controlled in a way) fountain of effervescent sonics billowing forth. "From Shadows" somehow reminded me of the intro to the Stones' "2000 Light Years from Home," yet more abrasive with drone sounds filling in all the gaps. A tolling bell begins "Messe De Requiem", an eerie two-chord organ dirge backed with low orchestral drone and deep bass rumbling. It's vaguely reminiscent of Dead Can Dance, akin to their earlier instrumental works. Mournful, yet majestic. "Pilgramage 1" is the first piece that alludes to some conventional musical structure. When I first heard this, I got the impression of a band jam session in a basement, heavily influenced by krautrock and shoegaze. I'm still not sure about this one- it starts out fine with synth choral voices, but then sludgey bass, gauzy guitar, clattering drums all building on a simple theme never rise above the murk. Perhaps I'm missing something but repeated listenings did nothing to enlighten me further.

"Flight to Kailash" is essentially a drone piece utilizing a variety of instruments and sonics, and the chilling wail in the background adds a sense of anguish to the mix. "Pilgrimage 2" is quite different than "Pilgramage 1" with a lone voice singing over choral synth voices, which turns to drones, then simple chordal structure as the piece moves forward. The vocal (by Pod_9) is done almost murder ballad style, but it's difficult to discern the theme as the words aren't always clear. I'm reminded of Iggy Pop on "We Will Fall", the lengthy atmospheric track on the Stooges' first album. I'm also reminded of something on Tobias Lilja's 'Medicine Sings Triptych'. "Absurd" seems to be the most enigmatic and arcane track on 'Pilgrimage,' a gloomy dark ambient improvisation with a vocal recitation that seemed to recall early Mortiis. Ultimately atmospheric, this is certainly one of the highlights of the album. The finale, "Integrity/I Believe" is based on a slow, stately piano progression backed by drums (again played by MathGen) with a vocal recitation and drones. Although other words are spoken, the ones that will stick with you are "My Lord" echoed over and over again. The pseudo-orchestral ending has shades of King Crimson to it. A strange ending to a very strange album.

Some very interesting terrain explored on 'Pilgrimage', but I was a bit put off by "Pilgramage 1", and I still don't feel that it worked that well within the context of the whole. I might have dumped the drums entirely as I felt they significantly detracted from the piece. Be that as it may, [ówt krì] has produced something quite different in the improvisational dark ambient genre, and it sounds like a leap forward from 'The New Seed'. The label, Erototox Decodings, run by Jason Scott Furr and Chandra Shukla out of Asheville, North Carolina, has released music by a number of ecletic artists including White Stains, Andrew Liles, Steven Severin, and Xambuca, among others. You can check out all tracks on 'Pilgrimage' on the [ówt krì] Bandcamp page, then buy the CD from Erototox Decodings.

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