Svart Records: Riitaoja + Dark Buddha Rising + Hexvessel

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Svart Records LogoReview by Jason Guest

Finland’s Svart Records output is always compelling. Having recently brought to us such diverse wonders as High Priest of Saturn, E-Musikgruppe Lux Ohr, Victor Griffin’s In-Graved (all three reviewed here), Jess and The Ancient Ones, Arktau Eos, Sammal, and many more delights, they continue to astound with three more releases:

  • Riitaoja – Mantereelle
  • Dark Buddha Rising – Dakhmandal
  • Hexvessel – Iron Marsh

 

Riitaoja – Mantereelle

Riitaoja are another band that does not fit anywhere. How they use drums, banjo, guitar, cigar box guitar(!), steel guitar, lap steel, bass, electric mandolin, xylophone, harmonica, machines, and vocals is unfathomable. The tracks, at least on the surface, are simple, but further listens reveal greater depths. With the introverted gloom of The Velvet Underground, the gravelly experimentation of Tom Waits, and the majesty of Pink Floyd ingrained into their sound, the experience of this album is of a shady serenity, a simultaneously seductive and curiously unsettling listen. It’s not abrasive, nor is it aggressive, it’s just a constant stream of wonderful surprises woven into richly textured music and mellow melodies. Nothing less than compelling, this is a remarkable album.

8 out of 10

Riitaoja Mantereelle

Track Listing:

  1. Vähän Matkaa Vielä
  2. Ilmiliekki
  3. Hengitän
  4. Allergesit Oireet
  5. Lusimaan
  6. Alitajuntaa Ovelta Ovelle
  7. Mantareelle
  8. Rauhassa
  9. Kello Kolmen Raitiovaunu
  10. Talo

 

Dark Buddha Rising – Dakhmandal

As darkly ritualistic as the band name suggests, Dark Buddha Rising’s Dakhmandal is an ominous affair. From the moment that the softly menacing pulse of ‘D’ emerges amid an endlessly unravelling array of swirling sounds and atmospherics, it’s clear that this album is something special. While the monstrously heavy, doom riffs of ‘K’ and ‘H’ contrast with the chilling electronic atmospherics, gently pulsating bass-line, and the mystical chant of ‘M’, with the cacophonous soundscape in the latter half of ‘N’, the album spirals ever further, ever deeper, ever higher into whatever world we are being drawn into. As ‘N’s chaotic rhythms morph into an extended hypnotic, Gong-like passage, the invocation is complete, and so the spoils cascade, crash, and collapse as the mysteries of ‘L’ are unveiled. A colossal album and an incredible experience, the black arts of psychedelia have rarely been so exquisitely rendered.

Dark Buddha Rising - 2013

9 out of 10

Track Listing:

  1. D
  2. K
  3. H
  4. M
  5. N
  6. L

 

Hexvessel – Iron Marsh

Finland’s psychedelic forest folk rockers Hexvessel sound like no other. Fusing late 60s and early 70s folk and psychedelia with pagan mysticism, folklore, and the occult, their reverent shamanistic tones are multi-dimensional, bearing the cool lightness of a meadow, the ominous darkness of a moonlit forest, and the otherworldly nature of eternity in a speck of dust. The companion piece to 2012’s No Holier Temple (Ed: read Jason’s review here), here we have Iron Marsh, six more tracks that are, again, striking. Featuring guest vocals by Rosie from Purson on the band’s haunting cover of Yoko Ono’s ‘Woman of Salem’ and flutes by Alia from Blood Ceremony on ‘Don’t Break The Curse’, melancholic, mysterious, and magical, this works as a marvellous match to an already impressive album yet still works as an incredible piece of work by itself. Transcendent.

Hexvessel - Iron Marsh

8.5 out of 10

Track Listing:

  1. Masks Of The Universe
  2. Superstitious Currents
  3. Tunnel At The End Of The Light
  4. Woman Of Salem
  5. Don’t Break The Curse