Kristian Blak,
(Tutl, 1998)

An elementally strange piece, Klaemint borders on a novelty item because the whole thing was recorded in cave or grotto in the Faroe Islands, and it takes some time to become accustomed to it. This particular album was recorded in 1998.

I listened to this CD cold on the first go-round. Not understanding a thing about it, I was prepared to say just that: this music was beyond my understanding.

Once I read the liner notes, it made a lot more sense. It's still not an amazingly beautiful piece of music but it is interesting and charming, and a specialty piece just because of where it was recorded. The water and air inside the grotto definitely become actors and inhabit the character of the music.

The title, Klaemint, is a derivation of a man's name: Clement in Latin, meaning mild and gentle, and some of the pieces in the suite do come across that way, though there is at times an eeriness that moves through the gentler sounds.

Inside the cave, the musicians floated on a pool of water, their music echoed, and reverberated off the grotto walls, and skimmed across the water. Guitar, keyboard, percussion, trumpet and bass all took part.

It seems that this is not the first recording of its kind. In 1994 Kristian Blak and the band Yggdrasil recorded a concert in a cave in Sandoy. The suite contained in this album was composed for concerts such as these.

Some of the pieces are fairly moving, all are very innovative, but if you heard them without realizing the story behind them, they might seem a bit detached. Imagination is a wonderful thing and Blak leads the way in this instance.

Those interested in the environmental aspect, the natural history feature and in listening to some truly innovative sounds will probably find this recording quite amazing. I, though, was amazed that someone is actually playing in damp caves. I think you're taking a chance with this one, but that may be just the thing to provoke your interest. And of course, if you're traveling to the Faroes soon, this is a great way to find out if you might enjoy a live concert -- in a watery grotto.

- Rambles
written by Virginia MacIsaac
published 30 April 2005

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