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I taken me a while to check out Asva. I don't exactly know why, though. I love Drone, and I love Stuart's work with Burning Witch, but... I simply never got around to listening to them. Up until this week, anyway. I learned that Trey Spruance played guitars, tubular bells and keys with this band, so I immediately had to check them out. Being hesitant to check them out, I never realized who was actually in the band, other than Stuart. I loved Trey's work with Mr. Bungle, and on Faith No More's penultimate album. While he is a very competent guitarist, who can play a cornucopia of styles incredibly well, I had a hard time visualizing him playing drone. I was also happy to learn that Jessica Kenney was doing vocals on the last two tracks. I don't know much about her past work, but I really liked her operatic vocals on Sunn O)))'s "Monoliths and Dimensions". With three musicians I know and respect playing on this disc, I decided to go out and get it.
It opens with the brilliantly titled "Kill the Dog, Tie Them Up, Then Take the Money". It makes a nice album opener, since compared to the rest of the album, it's quite easy to listen to (for drone, anyway). It has some nice flowing guitars in the background, with some crisp keyboard notes on top of it. The keyboard makes it a little more "interesting", and almost cinematic. I can imagine this being in some tense movie scene.
The rest of the album follows in a similar vein. The drone is a lot more evident on the second track, "Zaum: Beyonsense" which could be described as pure drone, bringing to mind The Grimmrobe Demos. This style bleeds through to the other tracks, but there's also a lot more experimentation present. Such as the presence of Jessika Kenney's soaring operatics, and swirling electronics. The former is very notable, however, since towards the end of the last track, "By The Well of Living and Seeing" her voice turns into a shrill kind of shriek. Nothing like Runhild Gammelsaeter's vocals, naturally, but still very harsh and disharmonious to say the least.
In conclusion, it's a great album. I wish I had checked out Asva earlier, since I'm feeling like a bit of a slowpoke, discovering this album 4 years later. There's definitely something about this album, which I think is probably Trey's keyboards and tubular bells. It brings a Gothic tinge to the album, and compliments the atmosphere. For a drone album, though, I find it a bit lacking. The pacing, length and structure is all perfect, but musically, it feels like there's something missing. The guitar tone is quite fragile, and doesn't hit you as hard as, say, Earth 2. It's certainly worth a listen, though.