“The project conjures layered soundscapes with DIY instruments in the fields of experimental music, noisescapes and dark ethereal ambient” is the way the label manager introduces this latest album from Finland’s Kenneth Kovasin, the creator of [ówt krì]. I simply can’t improve on this as a way of defining this atmospheric music.
As I know from Kenneth’s previous works, his is a deep world, enhanced by sound loops and both lasting and ephemeral images emanating from a variety of instruments, including his self-built shamisen for this album. At the heart of this release, Kenneth explains, is his bowed lyre called Yggdraskull.
“Awaken to Descent” sounds like an industrial process, or is it a space vehicle taking off? I could feel the intensity and the heat, as the sounds of motion head through the yawning void. I’m strongly reminded of those cosmic interludes in Hawkwind’s “Space Ritual”. No Bob Calvert or indeed any form of narration though. We use our imagination. The world speaks for itself. Its dystopian vision peers through in the form of “A Symbiotic Relationship”. In a way that Kenneth often does, there are darker forces at work here. Somewhere in the hallucinating background I can feel humankind fighting against this “noisescape” but as ever the gigantic force of nature in these loops of horror stubs out any possibility of human clarity. Scary sounds emanate from “Elevate 3.2”. A haunting moan sweeps through the drone. It’s a distant drone but there’s plenty of activity out there with obscure and occasionally distressing waves of magnetic storms providing weight and echoes. The winds whip up and the deep echoing cosmic storm returns. Again, it’s like being in a violent magnetic field. The gasps we hear are indistinct, deliberately so. They discreetly presented to me a human face and with that a reminder of our powerlessness in all this turbulence. I heard a scream – there is a human out there in “The Augur”. All the while in the deep and echoing drone there is a fire burning and the sensation that walls are coming down, machinery is unattended and not oiled, and there is a leak. But “Pulse” is not one for the Fire Service or your local tradesman to fix. Gigantic natural forces are at work here, all encapsulated in that gaping void with massive reverberations and sound waves. It is hypnotic, frightening yet exhilarating. It’s fitting that there’s a piece called “Lost” as the whole experience is one of swimming around helplessly, while being surrounded in the dark by irresistible forces. The sound comes in and out as what I suspect is Kenneth’s bowed lyre makes its urgent and provocative statements while haunting sounds and cries are occasionally heard in this cavernous electromagnetic force-field. The prolonged haunting drone with its attendant sound waves then dreamily takes us through “Desert Sands”, rising up and presenting a powerful threat. The sound loops could be the churning desert sands. Here and there the winds sweep through. But as ever we humans are powerless. This world just carries on regardless, almost contemptuously.
As if we haven’t got enough to contend with these days, here’s a frightening vision but one which is so much bigger than our mundane world. The spectacular artwork captures that vision. “Shoot the messenger, burn the prophets” is the defining theme according to the man himself. I felt with “The Burning Prophet” that there was more anger in the air than on the previous calmer and more reflective works of [ówt krì]. Kenneth matches his passion as a technician with his deeply dark imaginative powers, which he communicates with great expanse and expression. I find also that listening to [ówt krì] is like a treasure hunt. The more you listen, the more you unearth the subtleties. For me this is Kenneth’s best yet. It’s impressive, chilling, all-absorbing. It could be a reflection of the burning world or indeed an apocalyptic signal that the world is changing.
(9/10 Andrew Doherty)