Kave – The Language of Stones

bandcamp, 2015

Although The Language of Stones is a 2015 release, it’s actually a precursor to Kave’s 2012 debut album, Dismal Radiance.  On Kave’s bandcamp site, sole member Bram Gollin states that the content was recorded in 2011 when  he was “experimenting a lot.”  He goes on to say that “the sounds found on this recording completely differ from what Kave has become now,” and he decided to release the early material for historical perspective.  He’s exactly right, of course.  While The Language of Stones isn’t full-blown dark ambient, and doesn’t feature the confidence of Dismal Radiance, it’s still a quality EP that provides interesting perspective on how Kave has evolved.

The Language of Stones centers around field recordings such as trickling water, rain, birds, frogs, and insects.  Coupled with the iconic carved stone figure on the cover, and the connection to mysticism is obvious.  The title track ventures close to New Age territory – it’s similar to Gydja’s Umbilicus Maris in this regard – but the atmosphere is a bit too haunting.  It offers a state of reverence, but to something that’s not immediately apparent; something just out of reach of normal perception, but permeating the surroundings nevertheless.  “The Ancient Gardens” explores this a bit more overtly, with the natural sounds backed by a strange sampled loop, a single drone, and distant bells.  “Lunar Calling” carries a stronger sense of space, and a good deal of added weight, and the sounds of the surf conjure an isolationist and reflective moment on the beach beneath a watchful moon.  There’s not a lot of question about what Kave is trying to accomplish here, and yes, it’s been done before, but it’s handled with admirable finesse despite its minimal structure.

The last two tracks change the approach, stripping away most of the natural sounds and allowing the synthetic ambiance to expand.  It’s here that the bridge to Dismal Radiance is clear.  The rain and forest atmospheres of “Nature’s Last Breath” slowly fade, leaving only a mournful drone; it’s obviously a dirge to what has been lost.  “The Veil” is the EP’s gloomiest track, and follows the Kammarheit school of deep chords surrounded by synthetic wind and sampled crackles.  Like Kammarheit, however, the melancholy is beautiful, reflective, and almost soothing.  It would have been easy for Gollin to drown his compositions with overly eager moods, but he’s studied the genre well, and exercises appropriate restraint.

At twenty-five minutes in length, The Language of Stones is perhaps a bit light on content.  It’s not lacking in talent, however, and as it loops wonderfully, it’s more than well-suited for background listening or for enhanced introspection.  Gollin went from here to record an album that separates itself from its influences, but this EP provides ample evidence of Kave’s evolution.

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