Music Reviews

Artist: Hlandna & Vresnit (@)
Title: Inej Senju Kornej
Format: CD
Label: Vetvei (@)
Distributor: Vetvei
Rated: *****
This is the first of a bunch of CDs I have to review from the Russian Vetvei label, and all the info I have on them is directly from the label's website which fortunately has an English version. From what I can tell Vetvei deals in experimental ambient and dark ambient exclusively. 'Inej Senju Kornej' is the first part of a collaboration between Nicolay Kalmykov (Hladna) and Sergey Ilchuk (Vresnit) recorded in the remote village of Jarogora in January of 2010. I imagine things are pretty bleak in Jarogora in the winter if this CD is any indication. The music is very obviously deep, dark ambient, and even the presence of the occasional handbells gives the impression of a sleigh being buried under an avalanche of lethal snow. I suppose the handbells have some mystical import; perhaps a ritualistic device to summon frozen spirits, but even their tinkling is foreboding.

The three tracks clock in at a little over 49 minutes total, and begin with the deep, ominous drone of 'Siyanija Inej'. Other subtle echoed elements (the tinkling little bells) in higher timbres give the piece character. Although primarily minimalisitic, there is a good amount of complexity in Hladna & Vresnit's drone scheme accompanied by ringing tones and other elongated sonic elements. 'Senju Leskr' is somewhat of a respite from the heaviness of the two tracks it is sandwiched in-between, with manipulated field recordings, processed flutes and jew's harp and perhaps the vocal moaning of the Veela. This is the most overtly active piece on the album. It is eerie and unsettling to say the least, but not unwelcome. 'Neba Kornej' is third and final piece, and also the longest at nearly 25 minutes. It takes some time to build into a dense atmosphere of vast barreness and surreal space, but it gets there, and when you arrive, you realize just how awesome it is. It's sort of like trying to describe the Grand Canyon, if it were in the Russian Far East. Simply amazing!

I've always thought Russians might someday be capable of creating some of the best dark ambient music on the planet, and from what I'm hearing on Hlandna & Vresnit's 'Inej Senju Kornej,' it appears as though I'm right. Between the environment of the land and the artistic temperament of experimental Russian composers (they're very serious you know, except maybe when drinking with friends) it's a perfect combination. I'd strongly recommend this to anyone who enjoys Lustmord style dark ambient, as it is probably the best comparison. Very cool cover design by Vresnit too. As my first introduction to the Vetvei label, this is a really good one.

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