December 11, 2013

Kauan - Pirut

Written by Sean Golyer.

Anybody who knows me well knows I have a borderline unhealthy obsession with this artist. I loved the quirkiness of Kauan’s first endeavour, Lumikuuro from the first time I heard it. It was the strangest mix of doom, folk, electronic, and even a little jazz recorded on what was probably a shoestring budget. But it didn’t matter, it had an unforgettable charm to it. As the project progressed, there were shifts towards heavier electronic and post-rock elements, which in hindsight seem natural. I remember the first time I listened to Aava Tuulen Maa I was actually a little disappointed. At the time I was still on a very metal kick and wanted everything to be heavy. But I really wanted to like it, I had invested like, 25 dollars just to get this CD from Europe. If you’ve ever been a broke college kid, you know that’s basically the equivalent of “I guess I’m not eating this week”. Thankfully it really grew on me, to the point where it’s been my favorite release. I think it all clicked driving through a snowstorm while listening to this in the car on repeat for hours. The mix of snow-covered forests and prairies of my home state with that album just melded so perfectly, it was damn near spiritual.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Kuu.. released a couple years later. As well as personally investing in the project during its production, I bought just about every piece of merch I could afford. This time around it was an even stronger push into the realm of electronic post-rock, but the movements and motifs were just as hooky and emotional as they’ve always been. But it was the very end of the album that left me a little excited for the future. Nearly 4 years since the release of Tietajan Laulu we got our first taste of doom. A fan can dream that Kauan may revisit those themes, right?

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Enter Pirut. While Kauan has always retained some elements of doom throughout their discography, one would be hard pressed to actually call any release since Tietajan Laulu metal. I don’t mean to say that disparagingly either, I truly believe Pirut would not be the masterpiece it is without these last 6 years of stylistic shifts, it’s all great music. Having that context in mind really puts this album in a whole different perspective, and I highly recommend listening to the entire back catalog. There are tons of melodies and compositional choices that are strongly reminiscent of both Kuu.. and Aava Tuulen Maa, much to its benefit I might add. I’m envious of such a beautiful mix too. The guitars are heavy, powerful, and foreboding, enough to make any doom fan crinkle a wretched smile. There’s a non-stop ebb and flow to the album with plenty of room to breath and take in the sonic landscape Kauan has so carefully laid out for us.

It should be noted there aren’t any “songs” in the traditional sense on this album, it’s merely divided up into a series of movements. It rewards a patient listener and fans of the “concept album experience” who are willing to sit down and listen from start to finish every time. Often times when I hear of albums such as these I worry about there being a great deal of “atmospheric filler” in-between otherwise decent songs, but no such filler exists here. It’s not a doomy jam album, it’s a non-stop, living, breathing piece of music, seamlessly shifting from one set of movements and motifs to the next, more akin to a 40-minute classical performance than a metal album.

Pirut genuinely offers us something special. The sweeping synths and haunting piano work, heart-wrenching string melodies, ear-smashing guitar riffs, and each vocal performance (language barrier be damned!) all comes together to make one impressive and moving piece of art. Kauan always has been and continues to be a statement of how powerful music can be, regardless of language or culture, and Pirut is one of the finest additions to their catalog to date.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Note: All of Kauan's previous albums are available as name-your-price downloads on their BadMoodMan Music Bandcamp page.

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