Exactly one year ago I got an album by Russian SVARTBY, whose every regular song featured lyrics written in Swedish. Now another band from the world’s biggest country show their interest in Nordic culture by using some “unusual” lyrics, though with the difference that their focus is set on Finland (certain texts) and Lapland (a number of musical motifs).
“Tietäjän Laulu” is one of those Folk/Acoustic/Black releases that seem to be a sort of homage to mother nature and her powers. It is more than evident that KAUAN are familiar with the most notable names on the scene like ULVER or WYRD and even names like AGALLOCH or DRUDKH might be found suitable here. Slow and melancholic compositions seem to be consisting primarily of spatial keyboard passages, which – dependably on the artist’s idea – are accompanied by various instruments. Thus we can also hear heavy guitar layers, longing violin performance or acoustic guitars. In addition to this, the band make – courtesy of several guests – use of rather uncommon instruments in the realm of Metal like duda or buben. On the other hand, even if the keys often constitute the foundations of KAUAN’s music they do not cast shadow over the guitars, violins and other musical additions.
Focusing on the electric six-stringers one can notice that being placed in the background they form somewhat dirty sound walls of Black/Doom Metal character, whose slow pace makes the group’s effort even more dreamy than it generally is. While the presence of Doom Metal inspiration is felt mainly in these sluggish moments, the typically Black-influenced parts appear together with the occasional shrieking like in “Äidin Laulu”. This diverse track includes some of the best parts of the whole release with the synths in the middle standing out the most (these remind me a bit even of some synth-pop stuff), especially as the violin lines are being added plus some choir-like singing appears, which shows how one can mix classic music with the contemporary sound. I am putting a stress on this song, though, the fact is that each and every track on the Russians’ second work offers a good dose of musical variety and bears something captivating inside. The way all the previously-mentioned instruments cooperate with one another is so satisfying that I simply forget about the existence of rhythm section. It feels actually as if drums were of minor importance here and I guess only an avid fan of this instrument might be somewhat disappointed upon experiencing these sounds. There are however certain single moments where they actually play a vital role. A number of themes is namely inspired by Lappish culture and contains vocal and drum performance of ritualistic nature, just as if the band recorded a shaman in a trance state.
To sum it up, KAUAN have made an effort filled with passion and nostalgia which will be easily acquired by those of you who, for whom the beauty in music is the prior thing. Even though this album hardly surprises, the way it has been composed makes you enjoy its every track and the fact that several other bands have already walked this path does not seem to be so relevant.
(Online March 10, 2009)