Sep 2011 26

Sky Burial - KiehtanSky Burial
Category: Ambient / Experimental
Album: Kiehtan
Stars: 2.5
Blurb: As with any extended ambient drone piece, there are moments of utter boredom, and there are moments of sheer creative beauty.


Making the transition from harsh noise to trancelike ambience is perhaps not as extreme a turn as one might expect for a creative artist, especially one who is able to draw from all aspects of one’s personality. While Michael Page had established himself in the field of power noise with Fire in the Head, he began Sky Burial in 2006 to explore another side to his musical intensity, focusing on experimental sound structures and atmospheric exploration. Kiehtan marks his sixth release under the Sky Burial moniker, offering up just under 48 minutes worth of audio phantasms and mystical soundscapes that are as haunting as they are inviting.

While the Mark Spybey reconstruction of “Himmelblau-starren” is a perfectly timed affair, featuring six minutes of entrancing, breathy pads that begin as an almost angelic chorale before dissipating into a chasm of slithering melancholy, the title track encompasses the bulk of the album, making a critical assessment difficult. This writer admits to a certain disdain for extended pieces such as “Kiehtan,” for while some quite adeptly transport the listener through various themes, motifs, peaks and valleys of auditory surveillance, more of than not they are too easily perceived as exercises in self indulgent jamming yielding few moments of brilliance that would be better served to stand on their own as individually developed songs. The track begins strongly with warbles of sound effects and twilit pads akin to skimming some planetary rim before bouncing off into the expanse of deep space, but before long, this movement loses interest as it never truly takes flight. At 18 minutes in, the sound takes on the property of a distorted symphony, the vague hints of an orchestral score rising to the surface evoking the awe and wonder (in this writer’s mind) of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, before taking a sinister and relatively quieter turn that just as suddenly shifts to yet another magically enticing section of ambient bliss that thankfully lasts for several minutes. The sound waxes and wanes, the sonorities tottering between decrepit noise and distorted beauty, before ending on another high note with an entrancing procession befitting a fantasy epic with a slightly off-key, rather remarkably ghostly synth melody sounding almost like a muffled human voice.

There is much to behold on Kiehtan if the listener has the patience to wait through a nearly 42-minute-long track to find those moments worthy of note. Otherwise, there will be much skipping between the minutes upon minutes of static, distortion, and utter droning noise that would be appealing if one enjoys the more cacophonous barrage of the likes of Merzbow. If not for that, if greater care had been given to developing those areas that actually possess some musical or at least auditory appeal beyond the esoteric ecstasy of noisy experimentation, then Kiehtan could have been a stellar album instead of an average one.

Track list:

  1. Kiehtan
  2. Himmelblau-starren (Mark Spybey Reconstruction)

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Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)

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