Saturday, 21 October 2017

Kauan "Kaiho" (2017)

Their former release, Sorni Nai, was a riveting listen, an emotional journey of stunning peaks and swerving valleys born from a wealth of inspiration based around the mythic Dyatlov Pass incident. The record is a complete entity that blossoms into a cinematic soundscape, leaving a resounding impression on me that is still unwavering. The Russian five piece are back with their seventh and first self published record, "Kaiho" which has unfortunately disappointed to no fault of their own.

Listening back through their discography the band always had a unique, soft and sombre tone, slightly cultural but distinct and melodically persuasive. Over the years the Doom Metal tropes of snarly, guttural vocals and slow, sluggish distortion guitars, heard on Lumikuuro, gave way to the lighter, artistic, richer sounds of Post-Metal which heavily complimented their melodic side. Its wasn't uncommon for these tropes to subside entirely, in fact the majority of their music has mostly been made up of the "clean" passageways which this album naturally embraces with a move away from its Metal roots.

"Kaiho" is the heart of their melancholy put out to bear. Long drawn out movements of sorrowful strings and soft airy synths paint the glorious, yet gloomy atmosphere for vulnerable singing and delicate melodies to play out. Its pace is temperate, treading on ice as every song drops with the softness of snowfall in a setting of pure ease for the listener. Everything is calm, soothing and gloriously relaxing with plenty of room for introspection and reflection as this serene sombre takes hold.

For all its slow and delicate, beautiful composition, every song is meandering, wandering without direction. The lack of urgency or event steadily drains it dry as the album draws onward without a sense of meaning or story, little feels unfolding or even heading anywhere and so the subtlety and softness fades from focus and each song feels like a point without destination. Only "Kasvot" musters a sense of something grand ironically from shimmering Post-Metal guitars resonating with the airy synths. Its a rare moment for the record as most the guitars are slowly plucked acoustics, any distortion found is heavily buried under already gentle instrumentation. Aesthetics, mood and tone are spot on here but the lack of event or direction, change in pace or upturn in mood has this record seeping out of focus, leaving each song feeling like the last.

Rating: 6/10