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Tiermes - Malahvia

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Artist: Tiermes

Album: Malahvia

Label: Saaren Levy

Review date: Sep. 24, 2006

The Finnish trio has packaged its releases in rusted sheet metal, cloaked them in tar paper and tied them with rough twine. The music hidden beneath the materials is handled with an equally fetishistic devotion: either evenly spread or kept closely in tight confines. Titles are another thing altogether, name checking ruin and religion, people, place and custom, time and dust. Malahvia, a product of six years of fieldwork likely coupled with massive organic psychotropic intake, pulls all of these disparate qualities together, uniting them in sounds solid, liquid, haunting and fleeting.

Drones neither large nor small open the disc. A searing, breathing hum begins slow and rises imperceptibly, yawing wide, shaking sound from its well. Instrumentation is anyone’s guess. Sounds akin to one’s own physiological vibrations in the midst of a solitary stroll through the woods: senses bowed as cymbals; heart and lungs as hand drums thumped, slapped and tapped into shape. The effect is predictably entrancing as the sounds neither demand full attention nor function strictly on their own as peripheral noise. Seconds become minutes; minutes become a half-hour. Increased attention demands increased volume, which is a perfect time for the trio’s fragile quiet to disgorge ritualistic riff and grind, tones torn from trees, rhythm rocked from tortoise shells, fallen limbs, dried deer shit. Closing the offering is a meditation on the first piece, enhanced to unrecognizable point. Percussive accents are flung out into the void; like wolf skulls crashed against rust-eaten scythes, the sounds collapse and clang and resist becoming a part of the drone’s indifferent fabric.

Mystery makes Malahvia. Tiermes gives nothing but sound; it’s up to he listener to construct the framework from which it flows. The process can be difficult, disturbing and rewarding, which is all anyone could really ask for.

By Stewart Voegtlin

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