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Senmuth - Nagaratyanta - 60%

ConorFynes, December 21st, 2010

A project of great diversity and versatility, Russian one man act Senmuth will undoubtedly amaze a prospective listener even before hearing the music itself. With scores of albums ranging from industrial metal to ambient folk, the discography of Senmuth mastermind Valery Av is certainly one of, if not the most challenging body of work I have come across. While the music itself can generally be processed after a few listens, the mere fact that there is such a vast expanse of work to cover will likely daunt a newcomer to his music. Another one of his 2010 releases, the Indian culture-inspired work 'Nagaratyanta' falls towards the more mellow and atmospheric side of Senmuth's musical spectrum. While the album doesn't do well to distinguish itself from the dozens of other albums he has written in this vein, there is a better sense of composition that makes it one of the stronger works Senmuth has produced in the style.

Reaching almost an hour and a half in length, this is among the longest of Senmuth's albums, and would be considered a 'double album,' were it distributed through CD, as opposed to digital medium. With tracks reaching upwards of seventeen to eighteen minutes long, 'Nagaratyanta' certainly takes a little longer to sink in than some of the more to-the-point and concise work of Senmuth. However, don't go expecting any groundbreaking epics here; the songs gain their length not necessarily from complexity in the composition, but moreso a drawn out, ambient approach and a tendency for jungle-emulating soundscapes.

Using vocal samples of Indian traditional singers (both as some of the main melodies, and background ambiance), the actual singing is scarce here, but effective. The majority of the music revolves around a very exotic Indian vibe. Tribal percussion is met with some programmed instruments such as flutes and sitars. While a lot of the sound here was synthesized through a computer, the music is surprisingly convincing and authentic for the culture Senmuth is exploring.

While most tracks such as the ridiculously drawn out 'Banteay Srei' and the melodic reflections of 'Nataraja Bayon' share the same sound as the rest of the Senmuth ambient discography, a handful of songs here share moments that seem to throw in something new to Senmuth's work. 'Khmerian Naagarataa' for example, meshes the traditional Indian sound with some psychedelic rock, a keen surprise that makes it the arguable highlight of the album. The track immediately following contributes a bit of typical Senmuth metal heaviness that the rest of the album lacked. While the album as a whole is good, it's only the final few tracks where Senmuth really experiments with some new material.

'Nagatyanta' is an interesting album, and certainly above average over many of the other Senmuth ethnic albums, which seem to miss the mark.