[Reviewed by stark]
Two years after its first album on Winter-Light label, Nam-Khar is back with the “Sur Chöd” full length, which seems as a natural evolution of the project, yet while keeping its specific style of Eastern aural mysticism, the project is infusing a handful of fresh spicy ingredients to their music.
Already on the first track based on the sounds and echoes of horns and gongs you may notice a subtle yet quite atmospheric layer of the shade and colour I cannot recall it was present on “Secret Essence/Sangwa Dupa”. But it is with the second piece, “aDre” that all the fun begins. Of course the word “fun” should be filtrated by sensitivity of an introversive dark ambient supporter, like me for that matter. How the drones flow, blend and morph one into another… It is made with all the principles of the genre, takes you far above the Himalayan peaks and lets you float blissfully. If you know me a little, you know that I’m not so fond of the pitch-black side of the genre. There always should be at least a faint glimpse of light, an atmospheric or oneiric foothold, so to speak. On “Sur Chöd”, Nam-Khar finds a perfect balance while maintaining this “tibetan” spirit from the previous releases they managed to create a veil of still mystic, yet a more universal aura. Something that cannot be limited by the monikers related to a certain culture. It is as profound as the Nature itself. It still can be overwhelmingly dark, like “Dregs Pa”, yet I feel this time it is a facade, an opening gate for the unknown, vast realms of the world beyond.
How the drones intermingle one with another forming these beautifully esoteric structures may at some points recall the darker works by Klaus Wiese or Mathias Grassow and since I’m a die-hard fan of both German artists, I can’t be more happy of that fact. “gNod sybyin” is evidently the best example. Along with these specific eastern drums and a silky glacial background it results with possibly the most sublime composition of the whole album.
On this album Nam-Khar has evolved into a five person ensemble. I’m not sure exactly how the personal constellations looked in the past (most of the time I was convinced that it is a one-man project, to be honest), but I suspect there’s some fresh blood on the board this time and this different perspective is noticeable, yet it doesn’t conceal what Nam-Khar is about. Nice example of stimulating diversity in favor of the project’s coherent style is “Gangs chen mdzod lnga”. Atmospheric scapes, reverbed tinkles, ritual sequences and silence being a crucial part of the whole composition. No single unwanted sound.
The final track has been made in collaboration with Akoustik Timbre Frequency, the project by Priapus23, who’s also known as a CEO of a ritual dark ambient label Sombre Soniks. And this is another “Sur Chöd” highlight, an unconditionally stunning fusion of divine drones, unrushed beats and a handful of tiny ornamentations. This one may not be exceedingly intricate, but in this case the artists prove that simplicity is a virtue and I found myself listening to “T’ew Rang” several times in a row, on repeat.
I would say it’s Nam-Khar’s best work up-to-date. I still appreciate “Secret Essence/Sangwa Dupa”, as I wrote in a review that album was more than decent, but I have to admit that I find some moments too “straightforward dark” to me, so I have to be in a proper mood to play that CD. “Sur Chöd”‘s palette of emotions is far more broad and giving even more possibilities for your own inner journeys. Where will it take you? Check for yourself.