Meklabor’s is yet another interesting artist from Russia who is also involved in the martial & dark folk projekt Ostov. He states himself that Meklabor is bagpipe music with hardware-made ambient, distorted drums and drones. Certainly a very unusual combo for a Russian artist who says to be inspired by slavonic folk traditions! Judging by this release the inspiration doesn’t stop in folk but goes deeper from folk straight into mystical terrains.
Meklabor’s Raw Reeds serves as an intro that could well be based on a sludge record. Based on this, it would be too easy to just entitle this record Meklabore. The second song Fields already proves this wrong with odd rhythm and a fine melody with a… Bagpipe? A definite !?! upon the first listen. The sounds aren’t top notch, for example the record would agree with a deeper and more organic bass sounds; somehow the sounds lack the final punch. The third, Bessarabaska continues the interesting experiment comprising an Alamaailman Vasarat-like klezmer-melody and applies a discobeat later. I still might not play this at a summer fest.
After three first tracks peak to a mildly annoying hippie-klezmerfest At The Gates, suddendly things go down the drain to dark ambient. Salamandra (Oil Edit) is mighty convincing dark ambient, but it is absolutely in the wrong place for the average Johns and Jacquelines. Bad trip, man. Multinational corporations in their oil-greed did this, man.
Salamandra does mark an imaginary B-side mark though, the following Thousand Years Beyond Kaspia continues the surprising industrial touch that Salamandra hints towards. Best of all Meklabor seems to be very natural with their industrial-side! The illusion breaks at 0.40 with, a very original, Meklaborish melody, but the industrial beat continues to throb on top of this mystic melody. After a month I somehow find myself thrilled by this melody though it didn’t impress me initially and it does repeat too much. I would have definitely lived without the 1.43 trance-interlude too
Haze is a bagpipe song and impresses less than its predecessors. Largely that is because its driven by another very Meklaborish melody, which you have just listened for 20 minutes; and for me this melody is the worst of the record. It does try and I feel the hook at 2.40 and 4.00 would be a memorable one, if only the melody wasn’t off my game. So unfortunately the album closes up in less memorable fashion than it started.
In the end Fields and Thousand Years Beyond Kaspia are the top cuts in the album, reclaiming the potential that other tracks only hint towards. The soundscapes in Raw Reeds are possibly more interesting than the melodies. There are lots of unique clever beat work and low-bass sections which throb in the back and may go unnoticed but still add in to the atmosphere. Also kudos to Meklabor for having the second edition of Salamandra as a clear bonus track.
Raw reeds encompasses a mystical atmosphere which adds to the value, it could be a swan song for a culture that never existed with its own glyphs, prophecies and gods. Music impresses and at the same time fails to capture its utmost potential. Still a very worthy release that surely people with an ear towards mystical ambiance and modern beats can appreciate!
Free download: http://archive.org/details/siro318Meklabor-RawReeds