Mauno Meesit
Varjudemaa (OST)


4.2
excellent

Review

by Metalstyles EMERITUS
April 11th, 2016 | 11 replies


Release Date: 12/01/2015 | Tracklist

Review Summary: If you face your inner shadows, what do you see?

Varjudemaa (Shadowland) is one of those albums that, at first, as it starts playing and gaining momentum, you expect to eventually explode into something that will leave you speechless, but it never crosses that threshold. It’s not built to do that. About five listens in though, and it dawns how perfect it is in its reservations. Acting as a soundtrack for the Estonian TV thriller of the same name, this instrumental album convincingly conveys a sense of foreboding throughout, not via utter bleakness, but rather through slow, crawling compositions that exude mystery. A sort of "alien glow over the peaks" situation. Though much of the album sounds similar in tone, each track here carries a distinct emotion, with the mood of the songs swinging between anticipative and yearning. Some of the highlights include the title track, with its stomping (literally) delivery, which gives off the aura of "something wicked this way comes"; "Palun mine," which is a sombre acoustic guitar affair full of yearning for times past; "Varjud," which recycles the main melody from the title track in a lighter composition (the piano notes are pure Pärt); and "Nõiamets," which ends the album on an unexpected, delightfully creepy note, juxtaposing soft guitars with remote static. What makes the song creep under your skin though is not necessarily the music itself, but how it seems distant in sound, while also lingering right there with you in the room, like a ghost-like presence. With "Nõiamets," the album ends abruptly, and the journey does feel incomplete with it being the closer, but Varjudemaa is one of those albums that pushes you to finish the script yourself. It pushes you out of your apartment/home/cottage and outside.

Even if Varjudemaa is a soundtrack in principle, it doesn’t need that context to lean on. It works perfectly well on two levels, both as an excellent accompaniment to the show and as a musical creation that has no problem standing on its own. It sure could be longer, with it amassing only 40 minutes in length, but of that 40 minutes none is wasted, since there is nothing superfluous on Varjudemaa – it all adds up. In regards to what Mauno Meesit, the composer behind Varjudemaa, might want to invoke in the listener, the inscription on the inlay provides some insight, where he writes that "you go away and think that everything that you left behind remains unchanged. The light is always the same, the air is always filled with the same soft sparkles. The thorns are sharp as always. And maybe that’s the truth. Only people change. You change and start to see things differently." People (both in bands and the PR guys) like to write all kinds of fluff all the time, but that quote by Meesit fits Varjudemaa like a star atop a Christmas tree, because this album is indeed a delicate, thoughtful, and also sorrowful affair that almost begs you to look at what you’ve looked at before, or think of an unresolved problem, to see if you can notice anything new in that something old. That means it’s also an album that works best when experienced in solitude, in a setting that encourages self-reflection - it doesn’t work as a shared meal, not as much at least, due to its deeply intimate nature. This is basically post-rock for people who don’t listen to post-rock; an album where tranquil passages ring clearer than riffs ever could, and where a lack of explosion doesn’t result in a lack of catharsis.




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user ratings (4)
Chart.
4.1
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Metalstyles
Emeritus
April 11th 2016


8574 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

So this is what reviewing felt like...



The preview track isn't the best representation of the album, because it's literally the loudest track on it, but it's the only one available, so it must do. Plus it's a killer song anyway.

LewisShaw
April 12th 2016


306 Comments


There a full stream somewhere?

EDIT: Nvm found it on bandcamp

Itwasthatwas
April 12th 2016


1543 Comments


Would have never heard this if you hadn't reviewed it.

Pretty intriguing stuff. Oddly the first thing this brought to mind for me was Max Richter's Infra - maybe it's the understated nature of the compositions.

Metalstyles
Emeritus
April 13th 2016


8574 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

Thanks man, and not a bad comparison at all, I can definitely see drawing a bit of a parallel here with some of Richter's stuff composition-wise.

Atari
Staff Reviewer
April 13th 2016


24240 Comments


great to see a new review from you man.

this sounds really cool, love atmospheric instrumental music when it's done right. never even heard of the TV show either, but consider me intrigued

Digging: Julia Jacklin - Crushing

Metalstyles
Emeritus
April 14th 2016


8574 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

The TV show is...definitely not as good as the album haha.



And thanks man, it felt good to review something for a change.

Atari
Staff Reviewer
April 15th 2016


24240 Comments


this is pretty nice, some parts even sound sort of neofolk-y,

Metalstyles
Emeritus
April 15th 2016


8574 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

Yeah, some of the acoustic guitar parts remind me of Vali, which is why I threw that name up in the "recommended" section. This doesn't really stick to one specific genre throughout, which is cool. It's just well-composed, atmospheric instrumental music.

Atari
Staff Reviewer
April 18th 2016


24240 Comments


yeah no arguments there. I didn't even realize you put Vali in the recommended section but that definitely fits. I like how the folk influences are used in such a subtle way here

christhjian
April 25th 2016


661 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Cool, had not heard of this guy. I'll look into that. This example track was pretty good btw.

Archelirion
November 14th 2016


5639 Comments


Really nice OST. Püünis is my favourite - it's like Trentemøller's 'The Very Last Resort' with a kind of indefinable 'industry' to it.



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