Review: Virta ‘Horros’

Some bands are a revelation. You can’t quite put your finger on just what it is exactly, but they manage to work some kind of mystical magic that just defies logic or reason. Virta are one of those bands. There’s something so strangely unique, yet somewhat wholesome and familiar, that it’s impossible to find definitive reasons as to just why they are so wonderful.

Virta 'Horros' Artwork
Virta ‘Horros’ Artwork

Yes, in part it’s perhaps because they create a sound that almost feels like a texture. Smooth like satin, and as luxurious as velvet, the warmth and softness speaks on a level that’s far beyond words, and more akin to the realms of touch instead. They weave a sound which feels infinite and serene, a cushioning for the soul, which evokes feelings of soft warm embraces.

Having now been working together as Virta for just over a decade, Antti, Heikki, and Erik feel like the masters of creation, whose scope seems to veer firmly in the direction of complete total emersion into a sonic stream of consciousness.

With two previous releases, Tales From The Deep Waters in 2012, and Hurmos in 2016, the band have been carefully working organically towards this existential plateau, an out of body episode if you will, of sound, not based on anything beyond internal bliss.

Horros is the culmination of all those warm sensations that the band know how to express in sound so eloquently, and over the course of the nine tracks, they take you on a magical carpet ride, guaranteed to alter your outlook completely.

Now, I’m no patron of the extra curricular medicinal arts, but if I were, then this would be the pinnacle of my music landscape. Even without any additional help, at times, this opus takes me from this realm and into another with what feels like the most effortless way imaginable, which is the power of relaxing into the experience.

This music transcends genres and it’s somewhat impossible to give any reference for comparison, either genre wise, or towards any similar style of band. There are some nods towards elements of Nordic jazz, post-rock and experimental electronic, but this is so much more than that. If I were reading a review, and any one of those elements came up for stimulating ideas, I think I would be hesitant to want to delve any deeper. The reality is this isn’t specifically any genre of music, it’s more a mood of music.

This album is, simply put, beautiful…

It’s those chilled nights of pure ambience. It’s darkened rooms and wanting to escape. It’s a warm embrace from a loved one, even in solitary confinement. This is a feeling experience more than it is merely a listening one. All the way from the very beginning of album opener, Aelita to the dying seconds of closing track Aamu, the sonic sorcery will leave you completely overwhelmed, in the warmest way possible.

It’s hard to put into context through mere words just how impressive it all is, its far easier to point towards perhaps a couple of moments for context and use them as a starting point in case you want to delve deeper.

For example, there is a shoegaze meets trip hop vibe on Aelita which is absolutely trance inducing. Add to that the exquisite trumpet which dances its way across the airwaves, and it’s hard to even comprehend, let alone work out just what you are so fondly enjoying. Personally, the trumpet does nothing for me usually, yet here it heightens the listening experience.

On Tunneli the disjointed jazzy time signatures are both awkward and awe inspiring at the same time. There is an otherworldly feel which is both soothing and evocative in equal measure. Millenium has a non-threatening ambience to it which will whisk you away to another plane completely. It’s so chilled, that it will carry you away if you allow it to, and all those inner body tensions will simply evaporate.

Tuuli Nousee takes everything up to this point and throws it together, before giving it a mix and shaking things up completely. With this track it’s clear to see all the different elements coming together and morphing into a warm kaleidoscope of tones and textures, far beyond any known formula of music, and in doing so, it is spiritually uplifting.

Karhu adds yet another layer to the band’s skillset and is as intoxicating as it is hypnotic. It ushers in the final moments of the album and leaves only Aamu to close things off with its warm and rich texture, that even as it drops off at its climax, you don’t want it to end. This is where those shoegaze and trip hop elements roll through again, and all that’s left by the dying seconds is the equivalent of a slow drawn-out exhaling into a serene nothingness.

This album is, simply put, beautiful. It’s a work the likes of which I’ve not felt before. By felt, I do mean physically felt, deep down inside. It will leave you speechless, at peace with the world and ultimately, isn’t that all we all really want anyway?

Label: Svart Records
Band Links: Official | Facebook | Bandcamp | Spotify | Instagram

Scribed by: Lee Beamish