Written by: Scorpi
Let me set the scene. You’re in one of those fancy Venetian longboats. But you’re not in Venice, the budget in my imagination isn’t that large. But you’re on a river nonetheless. And up ahead there are towns & villages that light up the embankment of the river, this is where you’re heading.
The boat jitters forward and starts floating across the river, smooth as silk.
The start of this journey is accompanied by “Rengeteg,” the first track off of Ajna’s debut album of the same name. This leg of the journey is soothing and relaxing. You can hear birds singing, then some chirpy, catchy guitar melodies start playing in your head, along with a catchy drum beat. The boat travels along at a steady pace as you take in the sights. There’s some pretty, forest-like landscapes on the embankment with the setting sun shimmering through the leaves. More pleasant guitar licks are playing in your head, along with some funkier bass lines now but they aren’t front and centre, rather sitting gently underneath the pleasing guitar sounds. The music gets a little livelier every now and then, much like the excitement building within you to get to the first stop on your journey.
And the first stop is greeted with "B." This is quite a lively town, but there’s something a little off about it on your first impression. You get out of the boat and have a walk around, dreamy reverb-laden guitars and a mildly threatening guitar riff starts playing in your head. You better watch your step around here. And then a sinister feeling drapes around you, there is definitely something not right around here. But still, you keep walking, ignoring the slightly more sinister tone of the guitars playing in your head now. Then it happens. You take a wrong turn down a darkened alley and that guitar part now becomes a gnarly, menacing riff. There’s a bunch of tough guys that don’t like newcomers in their town hanging around. They give you chase, it’s exhilarating but terrifying at the same time. The music becomes even livelier, that riff morphs into its raucous final form. You manage to get away somehow, jumping over fences and gates with agility and precision.
But there’s a lingering paranoia as you eventually find your way back into the boat and set off again. Now its “Eta Carinae” playing in your head. A brief interlude with some creepy chords and licks. It is like the fallout of what just happened. But the next town is close so there’s no time to linger on these anxieties.
The next town looks like a low-key version of Vegas. Brightly lit casinos and entertainment venues everywhere but not on such a grand scale. “Spiral” now occupies your mind. Catchy, finger-clicky riffs, and an equally catchy bass line. You immediately forget where you were and now all you want to do is gamble the little money you have in your wallet. You feel empowered. Confident. You rush out the boat and head to the nearest casino. In the lobby it’s not as you expect. A bartender is showing off his moves with cocktail shakers, hitting them off his shoulder and catching it in the opposite hand. The vibe is pretty chilled. No unhappy customers, at least not in this area. Oddly enough the sounds in your head become a little oriental, with a delightful bongo segment emerging underneath the groove. Not quite sure why that’s there. Anyways, you head into the table area and put some money on black at the roulette table. Boom, it lands! You get a bit of a streak going, but you’re not going crazy about it. Just a mild feeling of content. But things begin to unravel fairly quickly. You decide to go all in, an impulsive urge takes over and it is your undoing. It lands on red. Darn it. With this, you exit the casino feeling a little annoyed and embarrassed with yourself. Game over.
It’s now fully night-time as you leave the casino. You hastily make your way back into the boat. Hopefully the next town over won’t have any more temptations. As you drift along for a little while, you realize the next town is just a village, and now “Nyergelt taltos kancacsikok” is your soundtrack. But it is unlike anything you’ve seen up until this point, it almost looks ancient. A tribe definitely lives here. The percussive nature of the music in your head only strengthens that belief. Probably not the best idea to stop off here, these people could be hostile. So you stay onboard, and for a while you just drift along the river. There isn’t much to look at, so you close your eyes. The guitars sound dreamy and soothing again, and the rhythm is steady and purposeful.
As you continue to saunter down the river, you come to a more interesting landscape. Mountains on either side of the river are imposing and inviting in equal measure. You start to develop a sense of curiosity and playfulness, and “Hekate” begins to sound so too. Mainly because you know there isn’t anyone around for a while, as this area surrounding the river seems uninhabited. So you splash the water a bit, try and locate any creatures around the mountains, just doing whatever nonsense you feel like. No limits to how weird you can be here. But in the still of night you suddenly hear someone walking in the wooded areas at the bottom of the mountains, and opening and shutting a door. This is the beginnings of “Turba.” But you couldn’t see anything, were you just imagining things?
Nevertheless you forget about it, you're too at peace to care. The next stretch of the river is relatively treacherous. The music guides you through the spiky low branches that hang over the river. It feels a little claustrophobic around these parts. A tinge of anxiousness in the guitar segments now.
“Szerian,” marks your arrival at another new town. This is the party town. Hell yeah, lets get a little bit fast and loose now. Lively upbeat guitars and groovy beats are reverberating around your mind as you quickly jump ashore and take a look around at all the fancy cocktail bars and restaurants. This just might be your favourite stop. Everything about this place is intense.
But everything comes and goes quickly around here, you have to leave much sooner than you wanted to. “Zsuzsi mozog” guides you back to the boat and on to the final leg of the river. It’s a brief trip, the exit out of this realm is met by bright light, and a satisfying sense of completion.
Back to reality. In a sense, what I’ve been trying to do here is show you how open to interpretation this album is. It’s truly an individual experience. It allows you to just sit back, and let your imagination run wild with the village horses. That was mine, weird as fuck and probably making little sense. There was a bit of a mention of what it sounds like, but I tried to paint a picture with…well, pictures. You’ll probably experience this album completely different to me, but that’s the beauty of this one, there are no rules. It is boundless.
Ajna - Rengeteg was released April 9th, 2020 from Inverse Records
Scorpi also writes reviews and creates content at Abrasive Noise. Now that you're done reading this, you should head over there and check it out!
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!