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Halo Manash - Taiwaskivi(Cd & DVD) [Aural Hypnox - 2009]

“Taiwaskivi” is the 8th release from ritual ambient project Halo Manash, and it’s also the most recent release on the excellent occult ambient & mysterious Finnish label /collective  Aural Hypnox.

The release comes in two versions- the first version just features the audio album and the  second version features two discs; on disc one is the original audio album and the second disc is a DVD  that features an fifty minute ritual and nature based film which is composed around the albums music.

As with all releases on the Aural Hypnox label the packaging is something a bit special and unusual- it’s an fold-out light green art card folder that opens up into an landscape picture of ragged and strange snow bound landscape that features  caribou or reindeer  horns in the middle of the picture. There are also two cd square sized cards that feature  landscape stills from the Taiwaskivi film. There also some minimal text and track listing, but there's no real  explanation of what it’s all about- which deepens the mystery and tweak ones interest even more.

So onto the audio disc- it features fifty minutes worth of music which is made up of seven tracks that fall between just over six to ten minutes a piece. And through the tracks  here where recorded between summer 2007 and winter 2008- there’s a real feel of continuum, flow and building and receding tension and dread through-out, meaning this is best played a one long ritual tinged adventure. The first two tracks “Crossing - Over - Wings Rise Radiant” and “Burial - Self - Flesh Given As Offering To All”  dwell mainly in very eerier and creepy  mixture of slow and spaced-out gong tones, distant chanting, muffle voice loops and minimal synth atmospherics. By the third track “Summoning - Toward Cardinal Points, Into All Worlds”  barren & spaced-out church bell like chimes are met by slowed and muffled bass or organ wonders.  Track four “Revealing - The Celestial Crown Reflecting Rays Of Sol & Shade” is all about slowed, simply but highly un-nerving church organ three note drones, which are underfeed by gong clanging, subtle horn calls and animalistic field recordings. Track five “Renunciation - A Jewel Bowl For The Final Feast” is a mixture of wooden hammered percussion, brooded under by bass pulse and dark ambient drift.  And the last two tracks “Conjunction - A Vessel Springing With Nectar From The Skybound Source” & “Consummation - Bathed In Sacred Fire” see slightly thicker, but none the less highly atmospheric dwells and dronescapes that are built around sustained organ and analogue synths textures that move with odd gong tone, churning metallic tinkle and general subtle, but highly effective mood setting. All in all it’s another very effectively chilling, dramtic and brooding slice of   ritual atmospheric ambience from this great project and label.

The second DVD disc offers up the album sonics with  visuals. There’s no real plot or story base to the footage, but it’s mostly very captivating, and at times very eerier and unsettling. The footage is filmed in aged, grainy and damaged black ‘n’ white, and it features various rituals been carried out by gowned, masked or veiled figures with the backdrop of  the woodlands and deserted locks of south and north Finland. The rituals usually only feature one figure, and this figure makes various hand, arm and sometimes body movements with or over animal horns, skulls, flowers, liquids or a collection of ritual like items.

Mostly the pace of the filming is  just like the music: slow, considered and often strangely unsettling. One of the more stand out strange moments happens half-way through the film, when we see a single white gowned in a snow bound forest. The figure is sitting crouched and facing away from the camera, and  on either side of the figure is a severed caribou or reindeer heads on a tree stump or log. Slowly the figure starts to move, then stands up, moving their arms and hands, but they are still facing away from the camera. Eventually the figure turns and he’s wearing this rather freaky metal texture ritual mask. The rest of the scene plays out with the  figure ritually moving between the severed heads. Near the end of the film the same figure returns once more, but this time it’s night time- at first the figure is surrounded by candles and fires. Then he has the severed headsc aribou or reindeer on either side of him, but this time their slowly flaming & burning. As you see quite weird and unsettling visuals that really send the already subtle brooding music to a whole new level.

So if you going to pick this up I strongly advise  getting the two disc set as the visuals really add so much depth and creepy authenticity to the already heady and chilling ritual ambince on the first disc. Lets hope all future Aural Hypnox release come in this two disc form- so to finish off another highly effective and bone chilling atmospheric release from this great project and label.

Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5

Roger Batty
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