Artist: Aija Alsina
London-based Aija Alsina’s debut album “Domum” is at once ethereal and haunting and has a timeless quality which is hard to categorize but nevertheless manages to leave a mark. This album is very expressive and its textures and soundscapes are dense and sublime. There are a few things that go sideways in an otherwise formal experiment that manages to deliver on every front musically.
|1. Morning Glow|
|2. Frost Work|
|3. Break Away|
|6. Variation on the Horse Theme|
|8. French Waltz|
|9. My Favorite Book|
|11. Love Letter||
|12. Embrace the Silence|
- Morning Glow: Morning Glow is brimming with quiet confidence as it announces the presence of a supremely talented artist who knows how to play around with the piano. It is melodic and at times feels almost like a prog rock covered on piano.
- Frost Work: Is ominous and has its moments of brooding. There are vibes that remind one of Scala and the Kolacny Brothers haunting choir renditions which are accompanied by equally searing piano chords.
- Break Away: This piece is full of pain and really brings you to the core of the album which is as much about love and longing as hope and an optimism for things that might change for the better.
- Healing: Perhaps the strongest track off the album, Healing is a surprisingly cheerful piece that is majestic in its orchestral arrangements. It features Daniel Gonzalez and Shannon Stott-Rigsbee on strings while Aija whisks you away on a magical landscape where music can truly transcend mundane life.
- Reflection: While Healing is exuberant, Reflection adds more balance and poise and contrasted with the previous track is more considerate and introspective. Nevertheless, it is a welcome addition to an album that steadily grows on you by the minute.
- Variation on the Horse Theme: Perhaps the most forgettable piece at least for me. It functioned more as a filler rather than a coherent part of the whole but as far as fillers go this was strong and had some electrifying moments.
- Wine: Wine is exquisite and royal. The keys reverberate and the music gleefully waltz around as the song explodes and hits the low notes towards the end before proceeding to the final leg of the album
- French Waltz: Melancholy and slow, French Waltz heralds the later part of the album with pacing that is alternatively slow and alternatively speeded up. There is an exquisite warmth on this track that prepares us towards the slow second half.
- My Favorite Book: The track is more of the same low-key noodling on the piano that is interspersed throughout the album which is not necessarily a bad thing given how strong the album gets at points.
- Krastiņi: Is an enigmatic piece that baffled me at first but grew on repeated listens. Its orchestral arrangements are a marvel especially because she makes it look so simple but it’s not actually just a few chords arranged harmoniously. There is an element of synergy that can only come from someone who has painstaking attention to detail and a blazing talent.
- Love Letter: This is a beautiful track. All the instrumentalists add their own deft touches and it makes an indelible mark on the listener. I was inordinately happy while playing this and it is ridiculously catchy as well!
- Embrace the Silence: Embrace is mysterious and haunting and is perhaps the most personal of all the pieces off the album. There are moments on this piece that gave me goosebumps but overall it’s a solid track that manages to elevate the music to greatness.
Picks of the album: Morning Glow, Love Letter, My Favorite Book, French Waltz, Healing
Verdict: Great melodies, lovely arrangements and truly transcendental at times. Definitely worth multiple listens