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Sky Burial – Kiehtan

Sky Burial - Kiehtan

CD, Lens Records, 2010

Formed in 2006, Sky Burial is the ambient/industrial project of Michael Page, otherwise known for his power electronics styling under the moniker Fire in the Head. Gaining inspiration from krautrock, early industrial and electronic/ambient innovators of the 1970s and ‘80s – a nostalgia and rawness which he emulates rather well – Sky Burial mixes analog synths, ethnographic instrumentation and field recordings from a global array of sources. Mastering for the project’s latest release, “Kiehtan”, was accomplished by American guitarist and producer James Plotkin, known for his work with Khanate, Sunn O))), Earth and Isis. The ponderous droning of doom metal thus occupies the periphery of this work, and infiltrates it from deep within.
Beyond its inherent meditation on Tibetan funerary practices, Sky Burial cites esoteric, occult and mythological subject matter as a muse. “Kiehtan”, for example, refers to the creator spirit of the Wampanoag, a people native to Cape Cod, Massachusetts, where the artist resides. Solitary evenings spent among the dunes and pine forests of the Outer Lands provide the context for this release, and sonic experimentation is the method. Simply put, and to avoid wrangling over problematical categorizations, “Kiehtan” is archetypal stargazing ambient, a soundtrack for the spinning, light-flecked abyss.
The title track, running just over 40 minutes, is an immense slow-motion post-psychedelic jam that touches just as easily upon wonderment as it does terror, for here the two feelings are interchangeable. Densely constructed out of numerous sonic textures straddling several distinct phases, “Kiehtan” is characterized by its overdriven bass resonances, chime-like tones, warmly billowing ambience, orchestral washes, metallic spaces and atonal prickling. It swirls, simmers and breathes, shifting between luminescent planetarium auras and sinister, thrilling ambient murkiness. The type of aural environment, in other words, that can churn for eternity, its escalations and abatements carrying all the moods and attributes of a spiritual journey.
The second track on the disc, “Himmelblau-starren (Mark Spybey Reconstruction)”, is an abbreviated six-minute gushing of airy drones and delicate ambience intersected by a surging peak of metallic rotations that calms to sedate grinding with spacey pitch-shifting occupying the under layers. Less interesting than the title track – this release would have been complete without its inclusion – it is nevertheless a decent enough ambient drone piece.


— Dutton Hauhart

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