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Years ago I was asked by a friend to recommend some relaxing drone with which to slowly drift to sleep to and Halo Manash instantly popped to mind, despite the fact that I had not actually heard them for myself. Aside from Nadja and Sunn O))), drone is a genre I have very limited experience with, but hold in high esteem when the mood strikes. Although I’m not a fan of the American outfit, Canada’s illustrious Nadja have a discography full of drone masterpieces, some of which include elements of doom metal. Thankfully, bands like Nadja are one-of-a-kind acts who suit every possible mood that could influence my listening habits. Their discography is huge and steadily growing by the day and because of this striking fact, though Nadja have a tendency to stick to one theme for a long period of time, offering minimal variation, they have at least one record per mood that I encounter along this arduous journey called life. If there is one thing ‘Caickuwi Cauwas Walkeus’ is perfect for, it’s sleeping to. This isn’t the most vivid exploration of dark ambient, or drone, but with the experience I’ve had, a lot of dark ambient doesn’t tend to differ much from song to song. Halo Manash, unforgiving in approach, stick close to this idea throughout the entire duration of this record, killing each individual brain cell slowly, one at a time with their mind-numbing depiction of blackness and pretentious ambient art.
Despite my lack of experience in regards to Halo Manash, I have however read several reviews on their material, all of which were written in high esteem of the colossal two man band from Finland, a country I normally associate with black, or death metal bands, one’s which are usually old school styled. However, Finland has thrown a curve ball at us this time round, providing the avid drone fan base with a nightmarish outlook on the genres minimal stance on music. Unfortunately, with the arrival of 2009’s ‘Caickuwi Cauwas Walkeus’, Halo Manash resemble Procer Veneficus more than they do Nadja, both of which have been prolific, but in very different ways. Whilst Nadja have continued to dazzle the crowds for years, with only the odd disappointing moment, Procer Veneficus have had the exact opposite affect, often releasing tedious ambient records in favour of Night’s hypnotic black metal hymns. Halo Manash’s seventh record in as many years is the perfect cure for insomnia. An elongated experience which builds to a disappointing anti-climax as dark ambient continues to tumble down the hill in my estimation, falling to the depths of despair and negative opinions and, eventually, stereotyping. Dark ambient has never been a favourite sub-genre of mine. I find the monotonous drifting far too tedious to be inspired by. Not even the addition of a quirky e-bowed guitar, or unusual tribal percussion instruments can stop the decay.
This follows the dark ambient description more closely than it does the drone tag. Having not heard any other Halo Manash record, I cannot state whether their career hugely differs along the way, but with the eclectic and varied nature of the bands I’ve witnessed within this wide spectrum, I would say it’s highly likely that their discography varies in influence from title-to-title. Upon close inspection, based on the reviews and information on the band, this should have been the experience of my life. Halo Manash have a glittering collection of reviews which extended the prior belief that they were going to impress and exceed every expectation. I’ve always been weary of 100% reviews, though I have a few in my own review collection because a lot of them seem to be written with an immeasurable degree of hyperbole. I found this to be very much the case in regards to the suffocating Finnish act. Although the simplicity doesn’t bother me, the lack of moving material does. As I sit through this record, I could truly drift off into my own thoughts, without realising that this record was still playing. Perhaps it is meant to inspire a sense of thought provocation, but surely not so much so that I repress what the band are offering me? I cannot tell you where one song begins and ends.
When a record makes you want to finish the washing-up, or wash some clothes, you know you’ve hit a brick wall and that this is a dead-end. Given the finer details, I expected this to be a wonderful array of experimentation and forward thinking. Perhaps ‘Caickuwi Cauwas Walkeus’ is ahead of its time. Perhaps I’m missing the point, but the lifelessness of the instrumentation isn’t appealing in the way, let’s say, black metal artists portray a sense of lifelessness in their soundscapes. With that specific genre, the material isn’t lifeless, the depiction is, but with Halo Manash, this troublesome approach is nothing short of uninspiring and downright dull. I suspected the addition of an e-bowed guitar would spice up the soundscapes and although this instrument, which resembles the sound of a distant howling wolf, does add a different and unique texture to the songs, which rarely vary, but does not inspire a feeling of overwhelming spirituality, or vivid imagery. Listening to this song is like dreaming about a blank wall. There are no vocals, which doesn’t bother me at all, but when the instrumentation is directionless, leading to a bottomless pit of blackness, the all-instrumental affair could do with some vocals to take away the feeling of boredom being imprinted on my brain, scarring me for eternity.