Halo Manash – Wesieni Wainajat CD Aural Hypnox 2013
The return of Halo Manash with a new release on the recently reactivated Aural Hypnox label is welcomed news, particularly given the high rotation the last three albums received around these parts. Being the first release following the Forest Music ‘treelogy’ (trilogy) of ‘Language of Red Goats’, ‘Am Kha Astrie’ and ‘Taiwaskivi’, ‘Wesieni Wainajat’ is a 2012-2013 recording from the group. Interestingly this has also been issued on the new Aural Hypnox side label ‘Underworld Editions’, which includes a mission statement of: “Underworld Editions presents rough and unusual glimpses to the hidden past and special manifestations of the present”.
Consisting of three lengthy tracks the overarching feel ‘Wesieni Wainajat’ is one of a generally more composed sound, particularly when compared to the ritual ambient intent of the preceding trilogy. Yet this is not to say that this album is a huge departure from what precedes it, rather the overall feel of ‘composition’ seems to be mostly derived from the use of a droning pump organ as the key central instrument on each of the pieces.
‘Kwlwsta’ opens the album, with a focused harmonic droning organ melody, where the soundscape is bolstered by sparse symbol percussion, distant disharmonic wailing horns and abstract sonic textures. There is a gradual upward trajectory to the track’s building intensity, but this is done without jarring the droning ritual atmosphere. ‘Varjoista’ is up next and sees Halo Manash deliver a track which may be the most composed and direct track they have released thus far in their career. Here the brooding organ again takes central prominence, being further underscored by sparse dulcimer hammered notes and a range of field recording textures (elements including: rustling leaves, splintering branches, or fracturing ice perhaps?). Yet this track elevates itself to an entirely higher level of consciousness through the introduction of mid-paced rhythmic percussion, courtesy of a bodhran drum (or similar). With its swaying ritualised atmosphere, ‘Varjoista’ is both the highlight and standout track of the album. For the final of the three compositions ‘Tulelle’ delivers a lengthy somewhat abstract 18 minute composition, which aligns more consistently with the sparse ritual ambient music of earlier material. Although partly focused on a slow droning organ hum, this element is relegated to the background to allow a range of field recordings to take greater prominence, which seem to have captured diverse elements of: winds within the forest tree tops; a low cracking fire; distant bird calls; a babbling brook; mirco-tonal aquatic sounds and some unidentifiable sparse scratching type textures. With its extended length and low key vibe, this track is trance inducing and mediative in the best way possible.
It almost goes without saying that Aural Hypnox clearly understands that the physical manifestation of an album is just as important as the musical component. Being issued in a limited run of 350 CDs and 50 cassettes, the packaging is perfectly suited to the album’s aura, consisting of screen printed raw cardboard box, with a range of hand printed and photographic inserts. With only three tracks and a play time of 39 minutes this may slightly feel more like an extended mini-album and by being released on the new sub-label (where it seems to qualify as a “special manifestations of the present”), it is unclear whether this is considered the main new album from the group or is more of an intermediate diversion. Either way, there are absolutely no complaints over its discographic status and short length, given this constitutes superb material from the group.