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Senmuth - Aethiopia - 60%

ConorFynes, January 9th, 2011

While the idea of ethnic folk experimentation is certainly nothing new to Senmuth, there are few that seem to have the same blend of ambiance, melody and composition that 'Aethiopia' is graced with. While much of the music crafted by this Russian one man project shows alot of promise, seldom does the music really seem to come out on it's own, instead feeling contrived and listless more often than not (at least in this middle-portion of his career). Such is a joy with that in mind, when an album like this comes along after a few less-than-satisfying releases, that while not a far cry from the style of the others, feels as if there has been a greater attention to detail here, and the music is more rewarding as a result.

To someone that has never heard the music of Senmuth before, the music Senmuth makes ranges from the crushingly heavy, to lulling ambiance; there is little middle ground in what he does. With such a great deal of albums, it is inevitable for many to come out feeling undercooked, but 'Aethiopia' does manage to achieve what many others failed; a degree of melody and structure. The mood of the music (being rather unsettling and dark) is still here in as strong a force as it was with each other album, but the way it is conveyed has a much more intentional feeling. Instead of wandering from chord to chord, Senmuth uses a great deal of repetition in his musical ideas, with a particular concentration on tribal percussive patterns. The result is that of a hypnotizing piece of music that can function fairly well as background music, but 'Aethiopia's strength lies in the fact that it has just enough musical ideas of sufficient strength to maintain a listener's attention, albeit just barely.

As with most Senmuth albums, the sound here is largely artificial and feels as such, but the arrangements are quite well done and surprisingly intricate in parts, considering how quickly the album was put out. Although there are still some Senmuth albums that are better than this one, 'Aethiopia' does seem to show that Senmuth's somewhat disappointing streak of albums over the past five or six seems to be at an end. Quite a good new age ethnic album, for anyone whose taste the style suits.