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Ksyatriya : The Arduous Search For Freedom

Instrumental band Ksyatriya's full-length debut takes a step up from very solid foundations.

In the interests of disclosure, I should point out that Ksyatriya's Trishay is both a good friend and a reviewer for this site, happy circumstances which came about as a result of the conversations we had after my review of the impressive 2014 split double-EP with Mind (((O))) Reader, 'Truth'. So I can - with some certainty - say that not only, in good hipster fashion, was I a fan of the band before anyone had heard of them, but also that they'd be deeply disappointed with anything less than a scrupulously honest and objective assessment of this debut full-length release. Integrity is, after all, the core about which the band is built, and the pathway by which it seeks to promote enlightenment of the self as the route for humanity to improve.

'Truth' laid out the foundations of the Ksyatriya sound: long, hard-edged instrumental canvasses flirting with spacy Sludge, Drone and occasionally Death/Doom or Funeral influences which never became definitive or limiting genre boundaries but rather marked the ebb and flow of the unfolding musical journeys. 'The Arduous Search For Freedom' builds on those same foundations, with a similarly uncoercive direction that leaves the listener to develop their own understanding of the soundscapes. Once again self-released (using fully eco-friendly material), the CD package provides basic credits and information, but little that might influence how its contents could -or should - be interpreted. (Modestly, even musical content is simply credited to the band, drawing no distinction between the contributions of brothers Rahul and Trishay Trada).

The cover artwork is, maybe, a clue: continuing the EP's stylistic theme, and again drawn by eXile, the same stern figure of power is no longer distantly anchored to earth, but seen more clearly against a backdrop of stars. A larger stage; a more imminent self-as-gatekeeper; a progressively harder challenge to continue on the path? Perhaps all of those: there is certainly more of an expansiveness, and at the same time urgency, within the music. Building up from the hypnotically exploratory guitars of the introductory title track, it starts to gather a head of steam with early percussion on 'Hazchem', then drives through segments of vibrant, distorted and drawn-out guitar lines interspersed with more thunderous heavy drum-bass-guitar combinations - at times approaching Post-Rock textures - as the album proceeds at a largely stately pace towards the excitingly turbulent conclusion of 'The Human Ego...'. Vocal content is provided only in the latter track, by way of a sampled lecture given by the late philosopher Alan Watts (Not What Should Be But What Is), describing the symbiosis and inseparability of the individual and their environment, a concept echoed on the cover quote: 'It is the vanity of Man that goads him to reform society without first reforming himself' (Swami Sivananda).

I mentioned 'uncoercive' earlier, though, because these are quite discreet inclusions, not overwhelmingly forced on the listener - a pointer, if you like, to where the band drew inspiration rather than an insistence as to how it should be appreciated. And it is perfectly possible to enjoy 'The Arduous Search...' on purely prosaic grounds, as a well-written and interestingly-varied instrumental work - pitched in quite distinctive territory, somewhere in between the more brutal thrust of typical Sludge/Post-Metal and the trippier Prog/Space-Rock vibes of, say, the Italian Sludge/Stoner scene. Of course there is emotion and passion in the music, but of a subtle rather than manipulative nature: one which leaves openings and invitations to contemplate the musical metaphors of conflict and transition on a deeper level, should you wish to think on what motivates Ksyatriya, or, indeed, yourself.

I initially really enjoyed 'Truth' for the way it set out an absorbingly meditative canvas. 'The Arduous Search For Freedom' takes a step up from that solid beginning in every way (except, perhaps, production and mix, which were pretty much spot-on from the beginning, and maintain the same level of quality here) - it's compositionally just that bit tighter, musically just that bit more expressive and complete, and comes across as just that bit more mature - and adventurous - in execution. And whether you want to let it flow over you, or to explore it more deeply, there is plenty to hold your attention. Thoroughly recommended, solely on its own merits: honesty, and honestly.

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Reviewer's rating: 8.5/10


Tracklist :
1. The Arduous Search for Freedom
2. Hazchem
3. Swimming In A Sea Of Samsara
4. The Human Ego Must Be Obliterated For Its Arrogant Reign Of Tyranny - I
5. The Human Ego Must Be Obliterated For Its Arrogant Reign Of Tyranny - II

Duration : Approx. 41 minutes

Visit the Ksyatriya bandpage.

Reviewed on 2015-10-11 by Mike Liassides
Aesthetic Death
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