Kauan
Aava Tuulen Maa

Now here’s something you don’t hear every day. A Russian guy from Chelyabinsk doing a mixture of ambient-natured neo-folk on top of a post-rock foundation (think of Tenhi’s most ‘rocking’ songs.) And the best of all, it’s all in Finnish! Needless to say, I was skeptical. I was more than skeptical. In fact, when I first heard about Kauan (“a long time” or “for long” in Finnish) a long time ago, I brushed it off as an oddity that wouldn’t work and lived my life happily ever after. Since Firebox was kind enough to run a very generous sale campaign, I figured I had nothing to lose and bit the bullet. And gosh-fucking-darned: color me impressed!

Kauan is basically a one man show with Anton Belov doing pretty much everything there is to do on an album, with Lyubov Mushnikova fiddling the violin somewhat touchingly in all the right places. Compared to Shining’s Fifth Opus — which I’ve been blasting quite a bit recently — this is at the other end of the mental spectrum. Where Halmstad paints depression and saturates it with blood red droplets, closing the listener to an isolation of violence, Aava Tuulen Maa tears down that spiritual black box of hopelessness and blinds the listener with a vast open, serene landscape. The sound is truly peaceful, almost fragile. Like the first snow that’s trying to paint the fields white and solidify the ever-flowing streams. Or perhaps it’s the image of the summer winding down and the Earth preparing itself for the cold…

Even if I don’t want to, I have to compare this to Tenhi’s most peaceful compositions, except there’s no real sorrow or heaviness of mind here, even if Aava Tuulen Maa is filled with longing. Had I not read about the band before, I would definitely suspect the band of being Finnish. However, even if there’s a connection to the romantic version of the Finnish psyche, not least because of the Finnish used to convey the words, I’d call this album universal in its language. As much as I try, I can’t claim to find a hint of the depression that’s so deeply rooted into both the Finnish genome and the Slavic nature. Yet, this is an album that’s deeply connected to those worlds and the nature. Going back to the Tenhi comparison, Kauan’s sound is somewhat more open and a lot more spacey; there aren’t hints of shamanism or tree hugging rituals. It’s completely about emotion. Fading memories. Nostalgia. And I think that’s the right way to go, as Kauan becomes so much more honest that way – rather than trying to fit into a mold that’s not for them to fill. For the metalheads without a clue of what I’m talking about, hopefully by mentioning Sólstafir and Agalloch I’ll provide some vague direction.

Speaking of the language, there’s a thick accent that will go unnoticed to all except those who speak Finnish. This is definitely not a bad thing, as it adds an extra layer to the expression: often Finnish is used in a very harsh and dictating way, but the poetry in the Russian pronunciation luckily carries itself over to Belov’s singing. He expresses himself in a delicate manner at all times, soothing the listener into tranquil fantasy. The language is used in such a way that it will work even if one does not know what the words mean – another instrument to emphasize the emotion within the music; the words are not important. None the less, the words chosen and the way they’re sung play a key role in creation of the harmony.

The reason I won’t name any single songs nor cover them in huge detail is because Aava Tuulen Maa is to be taken in its whole. It’s not something you pop in when you’ve got five minutes to spare, as the album becomes so much more than the sum of its parts when the listener let’s go and becomes part of the flow. Despite the heavy praise, the album isn’t completely unheard of but it’s a very charismatic, if not even a charming one. Most of all, Aava Tuulen Maa is a beautiful album; a balancing force in the midst of all the chaos, and a highly recommended release for the stargazing sort.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Mikko K.
February 4th, 2010

Comments

  1. Commented by: stilllife666

    Very nice review, you just sold a record for them.


  2. Commented by: gabaghoul

    “Where Halmstad paints depression and saturates it with blood red droplets, closing the listener to an isolation of violence, Aava Tuulen Maa tears down that spiritual black box of hopelessness and blinds the listener with a vast open, serene landscape.”

    you really need to post reviews more often, man


  3. Commented by: Stiffy

    I really liked the other two releases. Need to hear this. Another stellar review you Finnish bastard.


  4. Commented by: Apollyon

    This is quite different from the other two albums, as the meh’tul elements have been basically stripped out almost entirely. Good stuff none the less.


  5. Commented by: Cynicgods

    Shimmeryyyyyyyy shinyyyyyyyyyy prettyyyyyyyyyyy.

    Comfy music to relax to whilst sipping red wine in one’s own darkened shrine. :D


  6. Commented by: bast

    Great review Apollyon, will have to check this out asap.


  7. Commented by: timshel

    Something to hold you over until the guys in Tenhi finally release their new album! This band also contributed a song to the Summoning tribute album released last year. They covered “Long Lost to Where No Pathway Goes” and it’s worth hearing.


  8. Commented by: vortex

    Excellent writing.

    Thanks for the tip on such a great album. This is one I can shell some money out on.


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