Album Title: 
Release Date: 
Sunday, March 5, 2023
Review Type: 

Harpag Karnik is a very young musician from Iran, who originated from Tehran, if I am not mistaken. Despite his young age (he was born in Autumn 1997 [which makes me feel old once more, haha]), Harpag is behind almost two hands full of very interesting projects, both solo or in partnership. These ones are gathered under the Ardawahisht Kollective, which he founded in 2018 or so (also including the solo and mutual outfits by Earthen Shade). Anyway, the acts he’s involved with dwell in spheres of Atmospheric, Depressive and Ambient Black Metal, Shoegaze, Dark Ambient, Dungeon Synth and Funeral Doom, and the likes. Indeed; as you can guess, this isn’t all about sunshine and joy. Some of his projects I knew before, others were new, but after investigating all of them, I can say that these efforts are of a high level. Okay, it is a purely subjective opinion, for I can deeply appreciate most of this genres concerned; yet still, the result is stunningly impressive, without exception.

A totally new outfit by Harpag is Menakeret, which seems to be located in Neyshabur (or Nishapur), in the North-East of the Persian state, pretty close to the borders with Afghanistan and Turkmenistan. ‘Menakeret’ gets described as ‘the embodiment of infatuation, the manifestation of a sweet dream long forgotten’, or ‘the silhouette of she who would be the beloved of this epoch, who sits in her solitude, singing lullabies to her sorrows of ages past’. Initially, this recording was intended to be the successor of the album Erancnoir by the same-called project (Harpag sometimes uses Erancnoir as his professional nickname as musician, by the way), yet since the aural content does differ from the material recorded and released as Erancnoir, it is sort of logical to have this new stuff released under a new banner; which indeed is Menakeret.

This self-titled debut consists of two extremely lengthy tracks, called Menakeret and Taravim (ancient Persian language referring to endearment and infatuation, in case of interest), being ‘secret sigils of infatuation and affection, sorrow and hopelessness’. Each of them clock over twenty-one minutes, by the way. It’s a digital-only release, which includes very unique cover artwork, done by Harpag ‘Erancnoir’ himself, and representing the ‘she’ who sings those soothing songs, that ‘silhouette’ that refers to tragic and post-romantic happenings in people’s existence.

Both epics carry away an analogous setting, id est that each of them have been created around a comparable construction, around a mutual heart that slowly beats within a correlative, parallel body. In short, both of them are established as a slowly-moving soundtrack of doom and hope at once, done through keyboard-laden atmospheres, enriched by strings, drums and voices. That in short…

What does this mean? Well, Menakeret and Taravim are very slow (as far as it goes for the tempo) and profound (when it comes to the draft) expressions of deep-emotional suspense, woven around dreamlike, somehow seductive, melodies. The core, if you want, gets done through spherical, mesmerizing and moony, even luminous synth-melodies. It reflects an integrity and intimacy of passionate proportions, accompanying the listener through dreamworlds of both remembrance and expectation. With slowly floating waves of keyboard-laden elegance, this project creates a magic, also tragic, vision in sonic format.

In addition to these synths, distant guitar-lines and slowly moving, somewhat repetitive percussion-patterns strengthen the funereal aspects of this Doom-oriented intumescence. Even-though the strings and drums are sort of subdue to the prominent synths, they still are essential and indispensable to define the totality of the concept. This gets expressed as well throughout the production. There is a certain unpolished roughness behind the sound-recording, yet still the mix brings forward a fine and necessary balance in between the prime keyboards and the other instrumentation. And of course this counts for the vocal contribution as well.

When it comes to these voices, well, they represent an in-depth utterance that faultlessly translates the content of this album’s message. It’s like a wretched, painful, even hoarse throat, murmuring about a painful past, sighing fragments of redemption, hope and self-reflection. The voice of Harpag carefully exhales its messages, slow yet persuasive, and filled with sensation, affection and emotion.

Actually, this sounds like purest Lustre worship, gracefully painted in a wintery landscape. If I wasn’t aware of the sympathetic guy behind the project, I would surely think this was another effort by Mister Nachtzeit. There are many bands and projects that try to sound like this semi-legendary Swedish act, but in this case, well… This is much more than ‘just a copycat’! Okay, Menakeret is not a renewing act, but the in-depth song-writing, the competent execution and the overall sphere, being drenched in dimness and gloom, are oh so persuasive and captivating. …I would even like to use the description ‘beautiful’…

Harpag describes Menakeret as a one-off project. I hope it’s not. I desire this outfit to be a young yet fruitful one to be, with much more to come in the future (for my part, under another name). Such creation is way too satisfying to end here. Profoundly recommended, deeply appreciated…