Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Njiqahdda - Disciples of Flame (Agni Yoga) (2011)
Label: EEE Recordings
If you're new to Njiqahdda, you've got a lot of catching up to do, but this might be a good place to start. Through their six years, I think, of existence, the duo have released over a dozen releases under this title alone, and this is their second full-length this year. This new double-album takes their sound into another realm that has been explored, but not to this degree before.
Though the element of folk music has been present in the work of Njiqahdda before, most notably on the "Of Beasts and Blossoms" EP that was an all acoustic-based folk record, this could be seen as the band diving in and no longer just testing the waters. That little EP showcased a band essentially getting their feet wet, what with the short songs, sung vocals, and foggy atmosphere, it wasn't exactly a whole new world. But with this double-album, we get the duo not only expanding their sound but developing the sound from that EP into something a lot more epic in scale. I'm aware that there will be those who won't check this out because it isn't the duo's usual experimental black metal sound, but I would strongly advise anyone who likes the band at all to still give this a chance. Despite being devoid of almost all metal sounds and influences, this album is perhaps the most honest and pure representation the band has offered to us yet. The simplicity of the acoustic guitar being the centerpiece of the album, while the atmospheres on each track are, to me, what keep these tracks engaging for their twenty-plus minute lengths. The different sonic textures in the atmospheres that just develop as a track progresses brought me to listen to this over and over again. It should be mentioned that, at least to me, this album has it's root and it's beginnings in folk music, there is more, stylistically, to this album than just that. Obvious elements of ambient, drone, and neo-classical can be found in the first album alone.
For me, when I listened to this album, and I'll admit that the first time around when I played in my car, it didn't work at all, I can envision worlds being created and life emerging from the nothingness. The course the album takes from the very calming and minimal We Are The Origin to the glitchy ambiance of A Similar Passage Disappears I kind of saw as the birth of life and it's beauty into more disarray and noisy textures of the modern world. I should point out that duo to this being a double-album, the best place to listen to this would be when you actually have time to listen to it straight through and when you don't plan on doing really anything else at that time. Due to the calm nature of the album, it feels a lot more meditative and relaxing than anything prior to it. Having said that, there are a couple of moments when a surprise will come in and shock you, it certainly shocked me, and continued to every time I listened to it. It's a difficult album to process because if you're familiar with the band's older material, than this will probably take you a couple of listens to really get a hold on.
As a whole, I would say that this is the most introspective piece Njiqahdda has released and I'm sure it will take quite a few of their listeners aback. It'll take a few listens to get into, but it's the type of album that is rewarding. Definitely check this out if you want to hear some really interesting folk, ambient, drone sort of work from a great duo.
Overall Score: 9
Highlights: We Are The Origin, ...Of Purifiers, I Am The Wind