Arktau Eos – AI MA RA 2xCD

4 June 2010 xdementia No Comment

Arktau Eos – AI MA RA 2xCD

Aural Hypnox

Listening to Arktau Eos’ latest offering AI MA RA reminds me of all the times I’ve heard the term “ritual ambient” thrown around only to hear something quite different then what I expected, I can safely say this is what I might consider the epitome of ritual ambience. Arktau Eos manages to capture the best of the Finnish ambient sound and even combine it with a bit of the famous Finnish psych-folk influence here, especially when the album delves into it’s repetitive sitars and gongs. But don’t be mistaken, this music, although certainly esoteric and earthy is by no means folk-music sounding.

Worth taking a moment to acknowledge is the simple yet effective packaging aesthetic that Aural Hypnox utilizes on AI MA RA. All the paper stock is thick, textured, and top-notch with simple silk screened artwork consisting of text and cryptic runes. There is actually a lot of information supplied within the booklet, as well as high-contrast photos and designs furthering to detail Arktau Eos’ philosophies.

I prefer the first disc which is excerpted from numerous sessions held between years 2006 and 2008 according to the accompanying informational booklet. The music is deep without being complex, dark without being creepy, and hypnotic without being boring. Various instruments are used, probably the most obvious are the guitars which don’t really sound quite like guitars. They remind me in most cases of a sitar or even a koto. The drones are a bit more effective – like resonating wooden pipes – deep and foreboding. The music seems to drift more seamlessly on the first disc. This is the atmosphere of secret rituals, dark worship, and otherworldly forces.

The second disc “was conceived within a specifically consecrated cell, closed to prying eyes and sealed shortly afterwards”. This is merely an example of the kind of words that reside in the inner booklet. The wording, unlike Arktau Eos’ music, always seems to be so plentiful, but says so little. The second disc is where the more “instrumental” elements of Arktau Eos’ sound comes forth really hammering in the stated compositional technique of the album: “AI MA RA relies on actual instruments, remaining untarnished by excess of editing and processing available in the present era. The warm, deep sonic range of decades-old equipment has been harnessed, to the best of our ability, for the transmittal of the intrinsic vision through minimum of interference, conscious or otherwise.”

The aforementioned phrase exemplifies what is presented on the second disc which is more repetitive and tonal, with layers that don’t mesh together quite as well. A few moments I find a bit sparse for my taste, along with too much repetition to really draw me in and lull me into the spiritual state that Arktau Eos wants to reach. I am especially referring to the fog-horn laden “Intra-Arboretum” and the disappointment when “Adjustments Of The Magnetic Corpse” breaks in with yet another moping sitar. Although I still enjoy these tracks a bit, they do not live up to Arktau Eos’ previous material. Luckily there are still tracks like “Oracle Of Frozen Sands” which use the subtle meshing of wispy melodies and tactfully designed drones to reel me back in.

Looking back at Arktau Eos’ previous releases AI MA RA shares much more with their Scorpion Milk CDR than the exceptional Mirrorion CD. Gone are the overloaded noisy textures and manipulated samples. The intense melding of industrial and ritual ambient atmospheres. AI MA RA is more the soundtrack to these esoteric rituals that the Aural Hypnox crew is so involved in. The music is haunting, spiritual, and beautiful but it is no longer technically profound, or as interesting, complex and effective compositionally. Perhaps one has to be sacrificed for the other? Either way AI MA RA proved to be a worthy investment as it’s an effort that helps open those inner parts of yourself where I venture into so rarely.

Composition: ★★★☆☆
Sounds: ★★★½☆
Production Quality: ★★★★☆
Concept: ★★★★☆
Packaging: ★★★★☆
Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

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