At first, a compact and constricted drone shuttles through a network of treble-thin pipes. Soon after that, “Kaziwa” truly unfolds. The music is like a young petal as it turns to face the light, but the soft glow of the opening piano sequence is deceptively warm. It’s a false dawn, because even though a little smudge of sunlight washes over the music, as “Kaziwa” progresses the sun loses its ability to shine. An elephantine drone casts a long shadow over the music with its impressive weight, and it acts as the bass in that it tries to drag the music down, like the arms of a whirlpool tugging at the hull of a ship, draining the warmth of life away in fits and starts as its dank timber descends to the depths.
Porya Hatami and Arovane set off on a beautiful journey, but it’s not without darker moments. The sun is fading away, and the music takes its shelter in the faint glow of a summer’s evening. You have to remember the code you were taught as a boy scout in summer camp all those years ago, of how to kindle a fire, how to survive out here. You can enjoy the daylight, but you should always remember to prepare for the night ahead, because it will arrive. The shaded, hulking trees converge in the heaving body of the forest, and rustling, dry leaves populate the area. Thin veins run through the leaf in much the same way that the notes course through the music. Ambient in nature (but a shade away from being serene), “Kaziwa” is an enchanted, secluded place, a remote part of the trail nestled between great temples and titanic trunks.
Muted tones and meandering notes populate the music, and some other drones dig into the wet, fertile soil, spreading themselves over the floor of the September music like a clump of leaves. The light drains away from the sky, and it happens far too quickly given the slower tempo of the record and its unhurried walking pace. Although it’s slightly eerie at times, there’s nothing to really fear; the tones are just darkening and ageing, progressing into autumn with every step. Shy clanks and crisp notes mingle on the outskirts of the music, and when they fade they leave behind a series of nocturnal mirages and unfocused illusions. Nothing feels real; the tracks are a group of flitting figures silhouetted against a wall.
Appropriately, “Kaziwa” is the Kurdish word for dawn or dusk, and the music never strays too far from the sunrise and the sunset. The music conjures up a summer’s evening, where old stone, deserted thoroughfares and crumbling, ancient gates still protect the walls of the city. Cathedral bells ring out and the gargoyles at the top seem to stare down at the tourists. The façade is an elderly gent, and the music’s propped up with melancholic and plaintive, pocket-sized piano melodies. Otherworldly drones skim over the tired, creased face. Something is held back as orbs of dust sprinkle the loops, and the dry, cloying smell of a library containing row upon row of old books sighs its expired, stale air into the space.
Reverb helps to inflate the sound and the space that surrounds it; so much so that an interesting paradox begins to take shape. The opening drones that were so confined and tight are now afforded a luxurious amount of space. Ghostly voices seep through, and the reverb covers them in a damp mist. It’s in tune with the music of The Caretaker, but it’s a different shade of creepy. The notes feel old; they should be in a museum, but they continue to play. There is no Blair Witch here; there’s only the night. Saying that, there’s something exceptionally eerie about that tiny step from semitone to semitone, especially when it’s played delicately. When it’s looped, the repetition earns it a lot of spooky points — there’s no escape as it embeds itself into the mind — and it raises the hairs on the nape of the neck. There are gaps in between the notes, the easily breakable bones connecting to other parts of the musical body via a short phrase, and that helps to open up the sound into something as wide as the stars in the sky. It’s around 4am, so there’s only a couple of hours until dawn. In turn, “Kaziwa” is wonderfully vast music that’s nonetheless full of intimacy, tainted by the fading sunset, dusk’s pixie dust, and the dying glow that lights up the side of a tall tree; the first light, and the day’s last.