Most will recognize CHVE mastermind Colin H. Van Eeckhout from his work as the vocalist of Amenra. Amenra’s outstanding output focuses on the darker aspects of life and is thunderously heavy. CHVE on the other hand comprises only Van Eeckhout, a hurdy gurdy, and entrancingly tribalistic percussion. Where Amenra is physically heavy, his debut as CHVE, Rasa, is emotionally heavy, with ambient and droning soundscapes all throughout.
The album consists solely of its title track, which runs nearly 30 minutes. A combination of hurdy gurdy notes dominates the early portion, stretching and bending into different levels of intensity along with Van Eeckhout’s echoing vocals. As the track progresses, Van Eeckhout adds light vocal touches over the droning of the instrument, washing over the listener like a spring rain.
The next two phases bring in percussion and slow, methodical rhythms. Tribal drums echo like a war chant, and chilling, uneasy feelings replace the lighthearted atmosphere. As the minutes tick by it starts to seem like Van Eeckhout is laying it all out, maybe exorcising some demons with his all-encompassing atmosphere. Just beyond the tribal passage lies the track’s true highlight: the juxtaposition of the slow, doom-like percussion and the underlying cavernous chants. It pushes the psyche into dark, apocalyptic territory that can’t help but recall Sunn O))) or Godspeed You! Black Emperor at their most ominous.
The album’s production is crystal clear, and brings every note and nuance to the surface to further expose the vulnerability of a recording such as this. One missed note or vocal quiver would be instantly apparent but Van Eeckhout nails it throughout, both vocally and instrumentally.
For any fan of ambient drone, Rasa will hit a sweet spot, and for fans of Amenra this should, by all accounts, be an essential extension of that collection. It’s dark and emotional but at the same time completely different from Van Eeckhout’s other works. In the right setting and proper mood this is an extremely intense listen, one that demands multiple spins to properly uncover the emotional depth that CHVE intended.