Halo Manash – Elemental Live Forms MMV – Initiation CD Aural Hypnox 2016
First things first, this is not a new album from this Finnish ritual collective, rather it is a release which has been excavated from their past archives. In this context ‘Elemental Live Forms MMV – Initiation’ functions to bring to light a series of previously unreleased tracks which were presented at Halo Manash’s first live performance in 2005, which itself followed their 2004 ‘Syoma’ album. 9 tracks or ‘movements’ feature herein, and despite each constituting part of an interlinking whole, they are contextually split under sub-headings of ‘The Trial of Bones’, ‘The Path of Fire’ & ‘The Ghost Ceremony’ to reflect the intended ritual cycle.
Musically speaking, the trajectory of Halo Manash over time has been one which has demonstrated an gradual evolution toward greater abstractness and musical restraint. ‘Elemental Live Forms MMV – Initiation’ then differs ever so slightly from the ritually minimalist and amorphously ethereal sounds of later Halo Manash works. So although the music is clearly recognizable as that of Halo Manash, there is also a degree of musicality, drive and urgency here, which can perhaps be explained by that the material was presented in a live setting. Yet this is also not to say that this album presents actual ‘songs’ or ‘melodies’, it is rather a case the synths, chanted vocals, structural loops and tribalised percussion is in the most part more forceful and driving than usual.
From the opening moments tribal floor-tom percussion, swirling percussive textures, snaking synths and ritualistic chants/ horns introduce the album, and from this point the listener is dragged into a dynamic 40 minute ritual ambient morass. Although the tone ebbs and flows in intensity (depending on the track), and despite it ‘atypical’ musical form, the presented movements never feels improvised. As a listening experience this is as strong as any other album within Halo Manash’s canon, but it can also be considered an important document of the evolution of the group from its earliest phase, given its sonic focus and drive which pushes ever onwards through the 9 presented movements.
Packaging wise, the regular edition features an 8-page booklet, 8 postcards and additional insert, all housed in an oversized screen-printed cardboard which upholds the instantly recognisable aesthetic of the Aural Hypnox label. Also available in a limited special CD edition and limited cassette edition.