This is the kind record that I enjoy from time to time, a big surprise; it is not what I expected in any way, shape, or form and caught me completely off guard. Mourner is the second full-length, first on Profound Lore, from Caïna, the solo project of Andrew Curtis-Brignell - a twenty-year-old who already has a strong grasp on his musical vision. The album plants it feet firmly in several different musical forms, and Mourner encompasses some of the best elements of them. Steeped in the stripped down aesthetic of black metal while still traversing the sonic waters similar to (and I hate trying to fit things into genres but that is a point of reference for people) folk, post-rock, and shoegaze, Caïna drops a fully enthralling album that touches on several styles while still maintaining its own voice.
Caïna utilize a plethora of interesting noise passages and ambient droning to create an equally palpable and strange mood that affect the listener with songs such as "Waves Engulf a Pier" while at other times toy with the listeners' ears by switching to sparse piano pieces or soft guitar and vocal songs like "Morgawr." Sometimes these drastic changes occur within songs like in "Hideous Gnosis" (which on its own has a rather haunting sound), "I Reeled in Heaven" (the Gregorian chant-like portion is frankly bizarre), and "Requiem for Shattered Timbers." "Waves Engulf a Pier" contains a barely audible spoken word section that is sampled from the movie Kwaidan, which lends another ghostly element to Mourner. Curtis-Brignell's vocals alternate between having a folk like clean quality to displays of some truly emotionally pained scream or yelp. One of my favorite songs on the album is definitely "The Sleep of Reason." It strikes a chord with me with its layered guitars that still maintain a raw feel and the lengthy ambience that allows the song to breathe and explore the arrangements that Curtis-Brignell composed, and the sparse vocals serve to heighten the whole mood.
Once again, I want to note that Profound Lore is putting out some really nice looking CDs. This one looks like a mini gatefold LP, much like the previous Profound Lore release that I recently reviewed. It is sharp looking. The artwork itself is an image from a nightmare; with the gray and black image of a woman that looks as though her eyes have been burnt out of their sockets, it is unnerving. The lettering of the text is a bit difficult to read at times, but it looks great and ties the whole package together very well.
Mourner is another fine release by Profound Lore (I am coming to admire their stable of artists and the aesthetic that their records project), and it is a great introduction to the work of Andrew Curtis-Brignell and his outfit, Caïna. I am pleased that this record came into my possession; its soft, ambient passages combined with the accents of raw power (mostly black metal style) draw the listener into the whole album. I recommend this highly to anyone that enjoys any of the "genres" that Caïna straddles, as there is enough of all of them to keep it interesting.
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