Kval – Laho (Hypnotic Dirge Records)Sunday, 9th June 2019
While early Spring may bring the thaw its mid and late Spring that anchors the bloom and coloring of the waking world. Finnish artist Kval and his second album Laho is a fitting musical accompaniment to that greening, a contemplative and unhurried experience. Atmospheric black metal as likely only would emerge from Finland.
To reiterate: Laho goes many places and takes its time (each time) to get there. Melody and sustained atmosphere are key pillars of the experience; all things wrathful and unpleasant (blastbeats or otherwise) do not make an appearance. The occasional movement rides across waves of double bass but even then the general pace across the four songs can best be described as measured. The progressions take time, with three of four of the pieces on hand pushing near or beyond the ten minute mark- patience is mandatory to appreciate the conjured views.
And that view is often stellar. Piano, woodwinds, and all manner of employed strings (whether real or simulated) open up “Laho” before it finds traditional grooves, grooves that just as readily give way to resplendent digressions. There is in no small part a spiritual kinship at play here with the work of Saor, though with the accelerator turned way down. “Valosula” and “Pojanriitti” make use of these same components and employ them in similar ways. Closer “Kaihon Kuiskaus” is far more sparse in comparison, a keys and synth flavored bringer of night, the dark that concludes the story.
The sound of growth, of a forest alive (or what I remember of it from my perch here in the DC area), of the natural world in transition. Laho is a fine indulgence.