[Reviewed by stark]
I remember as if it was yesterday, when a few years ago I received an album titled “Svietacjam” by Pragnavit from Belarus. I didn’t know of the project’s music in advance and the album had to wait its turn, so when I finally and halfheartedly threw it into the player, I didn’t expect any miracles. And guess what, I experienced catharsis, of the purest form, one that in my musical life has happened maybe a couple of times. It was so unexpected that something as inconspicuous would overwhelm me so greatly. The atmosphere is reminiscent of the most metaphysical fragments of Tarkovsky’s films, eerie pagan stories like “Viy” by Gogol, and all in the spirit of glorifying the power of the Slavic nature. I admit that I secretly hoped that with “Mana” by Nubiferous – also a new project for me – I’d experience a similar rapture, at least in some tiny amount. None of these things, but it’s still a good album.
Perhaps my impression is due to the fact that for Pragnavit it was the first album in nine years, possily the only really ‘serious’ material of the project, while for Nubiferous the releases seem like coming out of an assembly line. The artist is very prolific. Or maybe because Pragnavit had a more illustrative character, which speaks to me more than the ritual trance generated by the author of “Mana”. But let’s take a look at this release.
“Mana” contains seven long compositions, where the important role is played by field recordings and live instruments, while synths also play a part. “Temple Of The Sun”, the second track – it’s worth noting how beautifully the atmospheric passage enters into a mantra-like, pounding rhythm. This is the first highlight of “Mana”. Also, “Edge Of Summer” pops out as an interesting combination of underwater-sounding electronics and chirping crickets. Overall, the sounds of nature, the singing of birds, the rustling wind, etc. It all injects a large dose of authenticity into the music: we don’t listen to fairy tales about the old forest where pagan ceremonies are held. We’re actually there.
Compositionally this work is characterized by minimalism. Instead of attacking the listener with successive special effects, the artist places the emphasis on slowly dragging them into a world he has created. The slow, monotonous melodies, long passages, carpets woven with field recordings… all this can be enjoyed, especially since “Mana” is characterized by clean and transparent sound. Another strong point of the album is the longest “Valun”, a very dense and intense piece.
“Mana” is a textbook example of genuine ambient decency. Using basically simple, not too elaborate measures and at the same time giving the maximum effect. Try to look for it. The album is jointly released by Post Tenebras Musica, Vegvisir Music and Le Crépuscule du Soir in a 4-panel A5 Digifile, limited to 499 copies.