You can’t keep a good man down. It doesn’t seem five minutes since I was listening to “Ximenes”, ówt krì’s void-laden, spiritual, haunting soundscapes. Now there’s this one, “Arra”, a four track, 43 minute album from the deep thinker from Finland. It is released on the Australian label NCTMMRN (standing for Nothing Comes to my Mind Right Now), which appropriately enough is dedicated to experimental music and sound art. The first three tracks are played on an instrument which Kenneth Kovasin, the force behind ówt krì, built himself. Kenneth describes the instrument as “something of a crossing between a kantele and a lap steel guitar”. As for the album, Kenneth suggested its motivation “comes from a sort of dialogue with the space, the time, and my emotions of that moment in time”.
The start of “Twirls” sounds like the brakes of a train entering a platform but thoughts of such mundane activity soon make way for that dialogue with space. A drone like sound hangs under this drifting, echoing, electronic journey through the vast cosmos. The sonic groans sound like whales communicating in the ocean. Deep and dark it is. The thunderous echoing sounds of large rocks falling signal in “Darum”. Aside from the crashing monoliths, it seems we are in a black empty space. Just as we heard the sound of a closing door on “Twirls”, here too there is indistinct activity going on behind the sonic groans and crashing sounds. The sounds are not uniform, as if they have their own personality. The atmosphere is sombre but dynamic in a cosmic, other worldly way. “Soother” suggests something more calming but the expansive cosmic waves, while not as scary as “Darum”, keep us firmly in the unfamiliar world of space where the sheer vastness causes this experience of sound waves, drone and echoes with no human input. This gloomy view extends into the 22 minute “Arcane”. It would be self-evident to say that this is strange but I imagined myself here in a garden with water and icicles falling down, or at least an electronic cosmic version of it. I think I could quickly go insane listening to this piece of experimental indulgence, yet although I’m hearing the sounds of things breaking up, it’s actually gentle and it’s out of human experience. There is a crash after 5 minutes, and the erosion seems to be slowing down. What it all means I cannot say, but whilst this cosmic industrial experience is outside of human scope, it’s also like an exploration inside a disturbed mind. It’s as if magnetic fields are interfacing with this sinister wonderland. The pressure mounts. It’s like an industrial process. The massive combination of sound waves makes it an irresistible force. As I listened, I was breathing heavily and sweating with the overwhelming level of tension. Maybe it’s the heat from the cosmic machine that is in operation. Do not enter this room, or you will be subject to gigantic forces. On the other hand, enter it and you will be rewarded with an experience, which takes us a far away from mundane existence as is possible. “Arcane”, which frankly is nothing short of genius, ends back in my imaginary garden with the sound of falling water and icicles. It’s like a refreshing shower after the sweat inducing tension and humidity that has preceded it.
I have to say that I prefer this stunning outer worldly experience from the inner imagination to the more themed “Ximenes”, the previous work from ówt krì. The plus point is that there is no constraint. I found myself nowhere else but in the world that Kenneth Kovasin has created. It is a deep and dark and unfamiliar world, but a captivating one through which we are guided with great imagination and sensitivity.
(9/10 Andrew Doherty)