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Melodic BM attempt to capture beauty of nature - 70%

NausikaDalazBlindaz, January 24th, 2014

The English-language translation of this, Elderwind's only full-length release so far, is "The Magic of Nature" and as it turns out this is an apt description of the band's music and style. Hailing from Ekaterinburg, a city on the border between Europe and Asia (Siberia) in Russia, the musicians attempt to capture and describe in music and words the wonder and joy they feel from close contact and interaction with the natural environment that surrounds them.

From start to finish, the album moves with a steady if laid-back momentum. Elderwind's style is to layer a basic (and sometimes doomy) drum-beat with a thick barrage of harsh fizzing tremolo guitars, programmed percussion which is often near inaudible, simple pure-toned space-ambient or solo piano melodies and ambient keyboard wash. The vocals are set back in the mix so that they themselves become a stratum in the music. The music tends towards repetition within songs, with any variations mainly in the percussion and rhythms. Most songs have a brief melodic ambient opening with some field recordings of nature sounds.

For the most part the mood is relaxed and while the ambient sections bring in a cold and chilly atmosphere, the music overall has a positive, even celebratory and joyous feel. This is apparent from the third track ("Shining Star" in English translation) on. Some of the piano and clean-toned effects and melodies have a sugary saccharine edge to them which might not sit well with some of us hardened listeners. The best of the non-BM passages comes in the 7th track (English title: "When the Rain starts again") with a melancholy dark-shadow piano melody in parts.

To be honest, I can't single out particular tracks as being outstanding in any way as the music proceeds on an even keel for the most part and there aren't any great highs and lows. This is a serene work with no moments of anguish that might add some tension. The energy level is low because of the very relaxed nature of the music. For some listeners, the danger of being bored could be quite high. The closest the music comes to pepping up with blast beats and having a definite sense of direction is in the last three tracks but even with these songs, there are still long passages of very slow and quite lumbering music with cutesy toy ambient tunes.

For what it aims to do, the music succeeds in immersing listeners in a world of beauty and fragility but much of it does sound trite and kitschy. Any freshness and energy the music initially has disappears very quickly and the pace starts to drag. The album could have been shorter and still have made its point. This is one recording that might have benefited from having actual acoustic instruments playing the ambient parts instead of synthesisers with all their artificial tones and the restrictions they place on musicians.