[ówt krì]
White Glaciers






If a work contains glacial signature words or triggers of coldness and belongs to the Dark Ambient/Hauntology canon of electronic music, chances are that I consider it for an in-depth analysis in my annual Winter Ambient Review Cycle. It so happens that this is exactly the case here: White Glaciers by guitarist Kenneth Kovasin aka [ówt krì] (a phonetic vertebra of your all-morning out cry) is a four-track digital-only opus glacium released on the German Format Noise label. Available to stream and purchase (name your price) at Bandcamp and comprising of four different movements about the supposedly unpigmented milkiness of these majestic mountains, things go awry pretty quickly, business as usual. In lieu of whitewashed haze, pristine purity and sylphlike Glitch splinters, [ówt krì]’s compositions reside in the desiccate wastelands of devilish anger. Everything that is superfluous for the aural depiction of these chalky entities is injected right in the epicenter, be it mephitic guitar drones, supernal light patterns that serve as antipodes of recalcitrance, or the impression of being entrapped in a mayhem of stacked layers grafted onto one another. Mastered by Ascendant’s New Age ambienteer S1gns Of L1fe and featuring the surreptitious talent of drummer Fykth on track three as well as trumpeter Seth Madison on track four, it seems that the glacial panorama isn’t as remote and devoid of humans as it seems. It is definitely not lacking preternatural wisps and sinister shapes for whatever that’s worth.


Movement One starts in the Berlin School tradition with a slow fadein of recondite drone billows, but this is the first and last time to wheelbarrow such a comparison, as [ówt krì] quickly moves on to the danger zone: pluvial hisses that evoke distant rain at best – but more likely serves as the pink noise transmogrification of snow blindness – conflate with dark matter crystals of hauntological origin. Sporting a gradient of glaucous-silvery tawniness, their luminescence reminds more of an ignis fatuus than a guiding aurora. Their spacy polyfoliage is occasionally wondrously clandestine, but ultimately forced back to serve as the alkaloidal anhydride of the electric guitar, itself the plasticizer to crack the shells and ice sheets in order to only leave a thin stratum of hoarfrost. Even when the layer triptych of spacy drones, pulsating glints and heterodyned guitars increases in pressure, the reverberated hollowness addresses the ostensible force to reckon with: isolation. Movement Two is no different in this regard, though a tad more cinematic. Now that there’s a piano’s four-note portent injected into the hexangular quilting, ready to interpolate the shawm-evoking Lovecraftian guitarscape, the temperature decreases constantly. This is against all odds, as there is a faintly Middle Eastern complexion of rufescent tone sequences embroidered. The tones themselves are raspy and harsh, but once their sinews unite and become entangled in front of an elasticized metalization drone, uncanniness ensues… with the piano towering above the peritoneum of anxiety.


Movement Three meanwhile is what the Dark Ambient aficionado would call a contretemps at first, for there is a saffron heat invoked in the thermal gusts that caulk the nothingness. Made of ebows or similar processed stringed instruments, there is fright and danger in this mélange of harmonies alright, but the textures themselves seem to come from the desert. A most ignorant vestibule to the artist’s self-proclaimed topos of these White Glaciers, right? Obviously not. While these sustained potassium chords do indeed cauterize the ice and alter the hibernal landscape into a fibrillar temple, there is of course an antagonistic force added, one that takes over the capacity as a scrimshaw decortication: Industrial clangs, moss-covered handclaps and classic drum kit chores! All of them are enforced by the enigmatic Fykth. Oscillating from sprinklers on a sunny day over polyrhythmic iterations of staggering oppressiveness to demonic equanimity, the constancy of the retrojected beats and hi-hats amplifies the dynamics of an otherwise quasi-cajoling circumambience. The result is a thiazide, boosting the surrealism, entangling the contemporaneousness of incompatible forces. Dry and gloomy, this piece is close and nearby, annihilating the liquedous echoes and hall effects for an unwanted immediacy. The endpoint is nigh though: Movement Four finishes the glacial photometry with a cesspool of agglutinated superstructures. Imposing all the stretched textures, surfaces and harmonies on one another, the apotheosis is driven by raucous guitar protrusions, ill-adjusted gongs of possessed sanctuaries, Seth Madison’s heavily camouflaged trumpet rhizomes and the – hopefully human – scratches of electric current. A cataleptic hydrazine of gigantomachy, [ówt krì]’s coruscating compunction ends with a sudden fadeout.


White Glaciers is proof to the point – and fallacy to the averment – that warmer movements can indeed coexist with sub-zero intermixtures in wintery Ambient works. No one denies this; after all, there are artists and artifacts that dedicate positive feelings to cozy landscapes covered by snow. This is not at all the task of Dark Ambient cataracts, and this is why [ówt krì] amends to the warmth that inadvertently stumbled into the scenery, most notably in Movement Three. Bridling the proliferation of that warmth by sewing pernicious discords into its Mediterranean mountainousness, these aureoles become all the more oneiric and horrific, resulting in a Tartarean reticulation of multiplexed bane. A good heterodox is all it needs to turn around feelings of positivism and safety, and Kenneth Kovasin sure enough delivers them with these pesky glaciers. Despite the concoction of synthoid mica and rougher edges, the granular epithelium is neither particularly perennial nor as dazzling as the hyperwhite front artwork. White Glaciers is stern in this regard, laying a veil of graininess onto the landscape. As such, the coldness of the locale isn’t as internecine. The chances of survival are definitely laid open, ostensibly due to the fact that this is music after all. But even when analyzed endemically, within the aural world, it is likely that it is not the purity of the ice floes and icicles that causes havoc and harms the listener: it is the infernal-feverish chromaticity, the curst cannelure of convulsions that is going to accomplish this instead. A most solacing endmost train of thought in a sphere of terror.


Further listening and reading: 

  • You can purchase (name your price) and stream White Glaciers at Bandcamp
  • There was a sudden [ówt krì] in the twitterverse: @owtkri.


Ambient Review 395: [ówt krì] – White Glaciers (2014). Originally published on Dec. 3, 2014 at AmbientExotica.com.