Review: Syven - Aikantaite (2011)


artist: Syven
release: Aik­antaite
format: CD
year of release: 2011
label: Vend­lus
dur­a­tion: 64:55

detailed info: dis​cogs​.com

A new pro­ject from Fin­land is the duo Syven, con­sist­ing of A. Tolonen whom we remem­ber as the main artist behind Nest, and Andi Koski-Semmens, a vocal­ist pre­vi­ously in Pan­the­ist and Ereipia. Together they’ve put together a debut album of five tracks in which they com­bine sham­anic folk/ambient with light metal influ­ences, and it fol­lows in the line of their track “How Fare the Gods?” which fea­tured on the com­pil­a­tion Whom the Moon a Night­song Sings.

The main ingredi­ents of Syven are com­par­able to Nest, in the sense that synths, the Finnish kan­tele, and skin drum per­cus­sion form the musical basis. Andy’s clas­sical bass voice and the dis­tor­ted guitar-like kan­tele sounds are new, though the album does feel like a con­tinu­ation of or elab­or­a­tion upon the music of Nest.

The first track, “Syvvys”, feels like a more ambi­ent and ritual intro to the rest of the album, in which the second and third long tracks form the cent­ral part. These lengthy com­pos­i­tions have a level, flow­ing rhythm where all aspects of the music get a chance to shine, although at times the music fades a bit into the back­ground as well, on account of the con­stant cadence. There are subtle changes in intens­ity in these tracks, and in the dense parts men­acingly growl­ing vocals can be heard in the back­ground. “Jäänkätkemä” is a calm ambi­ent piece with just kan­tele and voice, a brief bit of res­pite after the heav­ier fore­go­ing tracks. “Tuulenvire”, finally, is the coda to the album, where a stronger lay­er­ing of sounds is again built up, as well as a threat­en­ing atmo­sphere and some samples of fauna and weather.

Aik­antaite is an essen­tial listen for those who are famil­iar with the music of Nest, but there is plenty to dis­cover for new­comers as well. It’s quite hard to pigeon­hole the music, because the atmo­sphere is some­where in between. It has a strong tie on the one hand to a nor­dic sham­an­istic sound, but not quite in the way that some other bands do. The sound is a touch softer and more pol­ished in a cer­tain sense, per­haps also because of Andy’s vel­vety voice. Regard­less, this own sound sets Syven apart from other pro­jects, and you’ll have to find out for your­self if that’s a good thing. I cer­tainly dig it, and Aik­antaite is an excel­lent and ori­ginal debut album.

Reviewed by O.S.

Track­list:

1. Syvyys (6:55)
2. Jäljet (19:22)
3. Ne, Jotka Selviävät Talvestamme (18:46)
4. Jäänkätkemä (7:45)
5. Tuulenvire (12:07)