1 Sept 2016

Daina Dieva - Kas

Reviewed by Grey Malkin (The Hare & the Moon)

The previous musical missive from Lithuanian artist, performer and composer Daina Dieva was 2015's excellent collaborative album 'Avaliai' with Skeldos (reviewed here at The Active Listener), a truly otherworldly and haunting chamber piece that reminded this writer at times of the fragile beauty of This Mortal Coil and Fovea Hex. Now, three years after its creation (due to label difficulties), Dieva's own 'Kas' drifts into the light courtesy of the Vibora label and we should be grateful that it has found a home and voice. Described by Dieva as a 'spooky trip in ritualistic dark ambient spirals and drones...an hour of timeless reflections in three parts', this is an album to get lost in, to wander through and submit to its delicate and ghostly haze. The three pieces contained herein make a suite of sorts and seamlessly and glacially flow into each other, crackling, pulsating and breathing as if alive.

Beginning with 'Šviesoj Blykšta' (which translates as 'Fades in the Light'), this twenty minute symphony of shadows opens with a distant drumbeat and a choir of Dieva's layered vocals. Almost sacred in its mood and air, the sounds reverberate amongst a growing, humming electric drone until it takes over creating an ominous and pleasingly unsettling atmosphere. The piece then becomes more spectral, more ghost like as it weaves wraith through the sound of chimes and resonating bells. Reminiscent of the work of Michael Begg/ Human Greed or Andrew Liles, this is music that takes and demands your full concentration and is in no way ambient or background in form. Choral voices return and the piece becomes a chamber movement of sorts, hugely affecting and expertly crafted and woven. These voices develop into glass like drones, monolithic and melancholy swathes of sound before quietening and beginning the next piece 'Tyloj Sirpsta' ('Ripens in Silence').

This starts with electronic static howls creating resounding notes not unlike a Tibetan singing bowl (though this work is far too eerie to be in any way meditative) as the washes of dark drones serve as a string section. Dislocated voices enter as the intensity builds; again there is a feeling of something holy here, like an electric plainsong. The pulse and increasing volume of the collecting mass of sounds and the crackling that swerves ever more frequently into view to add a shimmer of dread add up to an immense, evocative piece of work. Intimate and yet also vast, the paradoxical nature, complexity and sheer beauty of Dieva's work is fully on show here. The third, untitled piece is a dignified, drifting work of frozen purity that reminds this listener of Górecki's 'Symphony of Sorrowful Songs'; the shimmering and icy notes sounding not unlike an Arctic wind suspended and slowed to reveal the music within. As the massed sounds dissolve, a gentle crying and wailing can be heard as the song closes. This is the unbridled power of Dieva's creations, that you sit in quiet wonder, following the pieces as they take you through different aural and emotional landscapes.

Especially recommended for lovers of the afore mentioned Human Greed and Andrew Liles as well as the work of Richard Skelton and the 4AD label, 'Kas' is a work of subtle power and emotive resonance. Seek this fine release out; music of this blend of originality, creativity and beauty is a rare thing these days. You will not be disappointed.

Available now from the artist's website on CD in a gatefold sleeve with spellbinding sleevework by Arturas Rozkovas.

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