Skeldos Records (SLS-02), 2015
Steeped in reflective reverence, Aviliai is an album for solitary moments of introspection and meditation. A collaboration between two Lithuanian artists, Daina Dieva and Skeldos, Aviliai is three tracks of minimal electronic ambiance and mournful vocals. Skeldos (Vytenis Eitminavicius) and the otherwise unnamed (and presumably female) Daina Dieva work very well together, channeling the more reflective and sacred moments of Dead Can Dance, and combining male and female chants as the synths drone in the background.
All three tracks run longer than ten minutes. There’s little development within each track, but it’s not a major issue; Aviliai is about providing a framework and letting the listener dwell within it, and then preserving it. This seems like an ideal soundtrack for deep meditative states. “Smelio” is particularly effective, presenting a hefty chunk of dark ambient drama over its twenty-one-minute span. The drones swell and break like an angry cloudbank, and the sparse vocals are submerged like angels hidden within its folds. From its luxuriously building emergence to its roaring crescendo to its slow fade, the track mimics the arrival and departure of a massive tornado, its majesty and fury leaving us in a state of exhausted awe. This is reverence of a different sort; the reverence for something vast and just slightly understood.
“Miego” returns to the type of dirge that would make Lisa Gerrard proud. The female vocals appear to be in actual language rather than wordless chanting; there are lyrics (in English, and what I assume is Lithuanian) in the CD packaging, but I advise against reading them; this is the type of listening experience that works best when approached with as little definition as possible. Too much meaning can shape it in ways that could minimize the subjective immersion. If you allow the music to enfold you, and don’t ask too many questions, Aviliai becomes a special type of collaborative listening experience, and one that reaches a rare relationship between artist and listener.
Daina Dieva and Skeldos don’t do anything new on Aviliai, but that’s of little consequence when the quality is so high. It is a bit sparse and singular, and its forty-seven minutes seem short, but that’s likely due to the relative lack of variety. Of course, with an album with such a focused sound, it loops wonderfully, but you may find your ears seeking a new direction; everything loses something over extended exposure. Despite its stubborn character, careful writing and execution gives Aviliai unusual power. Even a handful of notes can sound sublime when delivered with such poise.