Halgrath is indeed ritual dark ambient, but instead of the more common humming I get so bored with in this genre, an ethereal female vocal lifts the project out from being your run of the mill dark ambient band up to a more unique and interesting project. The woman behind this Russian project is Agratha, and she certainly knows how to lure you into her world.
Throughout the tracks are highly erotic and ritual, and makes my mind wander off to some of the more selfish rituals you will find in sex magick. There is a certain intent, a sense of direction in the tracks which makes me believe this girl got her Crowley shit down.
Halgrath is an unknown project to me, and the cover is so important in making the first impression a good one. A cover should make us curious about the content, and it should reflect the genre in some way or form. Halgrath's cover is a total failure, it's damn right terrible. And that is such a shame because the musick is not. Please look beyond the cover, people. You won't regret it.
The soundscapes are very well produced, multi layered and at times unique. Halgrath has a nerve forcing it's way through all the tracks. Combined with various ethnic inspirations, organic sounds and meditative drums this will without a doubt pull you into a different world of imagery and sensations. According to her myspace, she is influenced by the spirituality of the universe, and I really do enjoy her balance between the soothing and the more unsettling moods. I can promise you this: If you lay down on the floor letting your breath be affected by this release, you will find that your body unable to let go and relax 100%. The unsettling nerve will keep you alert and aware. I love that. I really do wish Agratha played this card out with more intent, that would have made this release a real knife's edge and rather unforgettable.
Although I enjoy the occasional female vocal, I usually get bored with it rather quickly. I prefer distorted and/or experimental vocals, or male vocals just because a male vocal can be stripped down in a way a female vocal usually can't. Even though Agratha most defiantly can sing, my ears can't keep up their enthusiasm for the whole 10 tracks. Her most interesting feats are when she moves into a slight Diamada Galas'ish landscape more in the style of «The divine punishment and the saint of the pit», or the spoken word sections as in one of my favorite tracks «Euphoria». Don't get me wrong, this is indeed beautiful, soothing, sexual and fitting. I just wish she could have used her obvious vocal talent to be more experimental in between all the ethereal singing. It's a little too Dead Can Dance. Look to Ataraxia or Miranda sex garden for interesting and experimental female vocal work. You can add some texture, and still be true to the genre.
Agratha masters the art of patience. She doesn’t rush through the tracks filling them with uninteresting elements. She keeps it simple and clean. And I really love that as a whole. But for the 6th track «Spiral path», which is also the longest, I miss more experimenting and would have loved more of the previously mentioned nerve instead of more of the same. The slight noise elements in some of the tracks are so fitting, and just a tad more of that would have been perfection. To have some of the 10 tracks sans vocal would have been a good idea as well to keep the listeners interested in the vocal work, instead of growing tired by it. Or to shorten the release down to 6 tracks.
Halgrath obviously has talent, intent and will, and Agratha should allow herself the creativity to venture further. Just a little more nerve would have made this release quite outstanding. Mind you, it's really very good as it is. This release is perfect music for magick rituals, be it with others or by your self, or it can function as a soothing background music while on a long train ride as you eyes wanders over unknown terrain. In my eyes this release is worthy of Cold Meat Industries (Back when CMI was good mind you). That said ,Ambientaria Records has blown us away so far with their releases, so who needs Cold Meat.
I am really curious to see where Agratha 's next release will take this project. If she dares to venture into her own black abyss, I'm convinced she will come back out with something rather mind blowing. I can't wait.
Label: Ambientaria Records
Album Title: Liquid Mind
Genre: Ritual Dark Ambient
01. Shamaan’s Prarie (5:25)
02. Irae Seithoria (10:37)
03. Euphoria (3:38)
04. Her Winter of Loneliness (7:14)
05 Deep Underwater Darkest Tale (6:22)
06. Spiral Path (12:36)
07. Metal Scream (5:14)
08. Whisper of the Mental Hypnosis (4:07)
09. Dark Liquid Mind (5:44)
10. Palace of the Lustful Lord (5:40)