The solo-project Bird from the Abyss is back, this time with a full-lenght. The band has previously released only one physical release, the I-EP at the beginning of '09. This album was released in the fall of '09. The band mixes together some doomy metal, drone, ethnic influences through the usage of many common and less common instruments.
I'm going to start the review by telling how the packaging looks like. Packed inside a plastic slip is a six-by-nine inches big thick paper envelope with a black print. Inside it, there's a black&white poster that mixes chthonian worlds and cave paintings into something you'll spend time studying, a pro-CDR in a black slip, and a booklet. The booklet is of the same thick "earth-colour" paper as the envelope, and features some rune-like images and lyrics to accompany all the songs, along with the usual recording information. Do note that the lyrics are more like accompanying texts, as the release is purely instrumental. How much does all this cost? 4,50$ plus the shipping, which means that you can get the album for the price of a cigarette box.
The first track lasts for eleven minutes. It's first six minutes consist of a slow and steady, ritualistic drum beat that slowly goes on, unchanging. There's some heavy and heavily distorted bass guitar droning in the far distance, some effectively used jungle animal and bird-sounds, and a wooden flute to bring the song even closer to the earth with it's peaceful sound coming from the distance. At six minutes a chime-sound singals a change: the soundscape turns into a more complex one, as there's some chimes and at least two other percussions to kick up the track's pace a little, there's some sharp tin-flute(s) here and there, and an electric guitar comes in executing some simple drone-based patterns. At the track's end an another guitar and a background bass guitar start executing a simple and repetitive pattern that, despite it's rather metallic sound, blends in perfectly with the chimes, drums and flutes and their atmosphere. This track has a lot of care put into it, and is a really promising and daring beginning for the album. Track two is a three minutes long "mitro" so to say, as it doesn't really have any highlights. It's mostly a thin wall of distortion in the background, on top of which there's the sound of falling water and a simple zither-riff panning from one earpiece to another in a simple, yet very interesting and attention-grabbing way. Even though this album works perfectly without headphones, I recommend checking out this track with them at least once.
Kyyn Laulu, "The song of the viper", lasts for over six minutes. It's based on a mid-pace acoustic guitar executing a simple, repetitive and slightly jamming riffs, and a somewhat melancholic-sounding zither backing it up with more insightful patterns. These two are mostly on their own on the track aside of the sparsely used electronics and bass guitar, which does the track a bit of damage. It has an interesting, kind of a cheerfully longing atmosphere with a touch of mysticism, but it could've been better if it wass less bare. The 13-minuter "From the Altars..." begins with a delightfully well executed mixture of guitar drones, some metallic percussions and chimes, and some eastern flutes. The track builds up slow and steady, kind of staying put but still going forward all the time. At eight minutes the guitar drone drops off and is replaced by a distant bass drone, the percussions turn mostly into wooden ones aside of some cymbals and chimes, and a zither comes along and starts playing a fittingly middle-eastern melody. Even though the soundscape turns into a more minimal one, it doesn't feel like the soundscape would get thinner in any way: the focus just goes more directly to the individual sounds. The last track is a five-minuter, and it's mostly some low and repetitive guitar distortion in the background panning from one earpiece to another, various repetitive percussions, sounds of african animals, some intentionally messed up zither notes and some guitar strikes to give the track some additional pulse. The track has a good, enchanting and even trance-inducing atmosphere. The track seems to fade away almost without one noticing it, and so the album comes to it's end.
J.M.A, the man behind this project, seems to have noticed that his compositions have what it takes for them to stay interesting and atmospheric even if they last for more than ten minutes. This is very good, as the songs on the band's I-EP seemed to be shy of their ideas and they weren't executed to their fullest. Now it seems that J.M.A. knows that he's capable of more, and knows what he is going for with the album and the different ideas. All the songs were also worked on until the end, again unlike than on the EP. The songs were still left with a slight part of free expression, for example (out of the many I could've chosen) the end of "Kyyn Laulu" has some improvised-sounding zither in it, and overall the execution feels really natural - and on an album of this kind it should, too. The album doesn't get dull or feel lenghty at all during it's play, so the points go to the artist for knowing his capabilities and limits - and for executing the album with such clear but soulful sounds!
The album has a really mystical atmosphere, which creates images of ancient rites and landscapes from a forgotten world, and overall brings the listener closer to the earth he's walking on. It feels both natural and very mythical. Both the repetition and the amount of changes have been binded together and executed in a very natural way, and the same goes for blending together the metallic and acoustic elements, too: nothing sounds forced. I just hope that he manages to add more essence and content to the most bare parts, and that he'll take the project's experimental and individual nature further.
Not unique, but original, well thought out and truly noteworthy. May more daring take place.