AURI - II: Those We Don't Speak Of

October 13, 2021, a month ago

(Nuclear Blast)

Mark Gromen

Rating: 7.0

review auri

AURI - II: Those We Don't Speak Of

Nightwish mainman Tuomas Holopainen, with his singer/violinist wife (Johanna Kurkela), plus bandmates Troy Donockley (pipes/guitar, backing vocals) and Kai Hahto (drums) step outside their normal sounds, for a more intimate (and less bombastic) journey. Those interested in Nightwish influences, or even rock structures, should look elsewhere. Actually, as the title implies, this is the second go-round, issuing the eponymous debut, three years ago.

Some have labeled it "progressive folk", a trance-like, mix of New Age mood music: equal parts atmospheric film score, solemn liturgical hymn/Celtic ballad, forerunner Finns Decoryah and, in its best moments, Anneke van Giersbergen fronted The Gathering (circa Nighttime Birds). Kurkela adopts a hushed, at times, just a mere whisper, cooing. Sometimes she's double tracked, and come the chorus of cooing "Kiss The Mountains", augmented by the piper, but make no mistake, this is her vehicle. When she's not in front of the mic, she's typically offering mournful violin.

Although the first few notes (wayward keys and sharp, bow across strings) of the opening, title track recalls a Hitchcockian horror theme, it's the lone instances and quickly discarded. Piano and acoustic guitar, "The Valley" retains the aforementioned vibe of the late-Nineties, female-fronted Dutch outfit. Sporadic electric piano tinkling adjoins an airy "The Duty Of Dust", with a rare "lead" (but fleeting, in terms of duration) vocal from Donockley.

For some reason, "Pearl Diving" recalls the fringe country music of Ann Murray. It gets a little frisky (relative to other tempos) for "Light And Flood", but aside from some indistinguishable syllables, it's essentially an instrumental. Bit of an Asian feel, to start, "It Takes Me Places". Knowing Holopainen's fascination with Native American folklore, not surprising to hear subtle bits within "The Long Walk". During "Scattered To The Four Winds", when Johanna and Troy sing "breath of a butterfly, riding upon the wind" might accurately encapsulate what transpires, aurally. Concluding "Fireside Bard" is Donockley (at times, in duet w/ himself) with an acoustic guitar. He opts for the recorder/pipes, once Kurkela appears on the scene. The most traditionally structured tune herein, albeit a ballad.

Genre busting listen. Take the chance?

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