Named after a peculiar kind of ancient tomb found largely in south-western England, Kistvaen marks the return of Roly Porter to the Subtext label. Recorded in Bristol at a variety of performances and rehearsals, it’s Porter’s fourth full-length, consisting of field recordings and wordless vocals. 

Vinyl Double LP £17.49 SUB035

2LP on Subtext.

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CD £11.99 SUBCD018

CD on Subtext.

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Kistvaen by Roly Porter
2 reviews. Write a review for us »
9/10 Ant 04 June 2020

In terms of production quality, former Vex’d bassbin punisher Roly Porter set the bar exceptionally high right from the start. He’s continuously maintained this high standard on his albums ‘Aftertime’, ‘Life Cycle Of A Massive Star’ and ‘Third Law’. His fourth full-length ‘Kistvaen' is no exception to this trend - a record that’s solid both conceptually and sonically and really stands out from the wave of albums that seek to intertwine dark ambient and modern classical elements. 

As ever, Porter’s knack for cavernous sound design is perfectly suited to the theme’s he explores here, taking us back in time and deep into Neolithic Dartmoor in South Western England. His time-machine allows us to experience his visions of ancient social rituals, specifically burial rituals - the title ‘Kistvaen’ refers to a type of granite tomb which could be found on the moorlands. The work is essentially a soundtrack or imagined archaeology, vividly and dramatically articulated through immensely powerful, intricately rendered sound. 

What emerges through these visions of bleak landscapes is the often bewildering sense of loss through death that transcends time. Its execution is remarkably sensitive and affecting. The vocal work on ‘An Open Door’ for example adds an edge that’s absolutely heart-wrenching. I can close my eyes and see a spirit leaving a body and travelling upwards into the aether, while a grieving family seek to preserve it for eternity in a stone tomb. 

Alongside his box of tricks, apparently he’s used field recordings from the area, but nothing is clearly identifiable. Yet magically, he somehow manages to capture the essence of the location. Close your eyes and you can go there. Highly recommended.

9/10 Roderik Customer rating (no review), 3rd July 2020


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