IKITAN, if you don’t know, is the Aztec god of the sound of stones. In other words, IKITAN is the god of Rock.
To that end, IKITAN (the band) does an excellent job channeling that deity, as their music is often transcendent, bombastic, and verbose—and without a single lyric in the fray.
In their November 20, 2020 debut, the 20-minute audio odyssey “Twenty-Twenty,” IKITAN chronicled the band’s existence before and during the pandemic, delivering a stunning, moving blend of bands like My Sleeping Karma, Russian Circles, and Karma to Burn.
The track was well-received by critics, and IKITAN eventually captured a live performance of the epic song atop an old fort outside of Genoa, Italy, paying homage to the Desert Rock generator parties of the ‘90s and another massive IKITAN influence: Yawning Man.
Now, just over a year removed from their first song’s release, IKITAN has another treat in store for the community: the instrumental Darvaza y Brinicle. Darvaza y Brinicle is a limited-edition cassette featuring singles “Darvaza” and “Brinicle” on Side A and the live performance of “Twenty-Twenty” on Side B.
The Italian trio of IKITAN is composed of:
- Luca “Nash” Nasciuti – guitar
- Frik Et – bass
- Enrico Meloni – drums and cowbell
Darvaza y Brinicle was published by Taxi Driver Records.
Darvaza y Brinicle Review
Release Date: December 3, 2021
Side A, Track One: Darvaza
Before listening to “Darvaza,” it’s useful to have some background. “Darvaza,” in this case, refers to the Darvaza gas crater in Turkmenistan. In 1971, a natural gas field collapsed into the ground and caught on fire, and it’s been aflame ever since. Because of this, it’s occasionally referred to as the “Door to Hell” or the “Gates of Hell.”
With that history out of the way, let’s dig into the song.
The first thing to note: This is not “Twenty-Twenty.” While IKITAN’s Progressive and Post Rock debut was meticulously produced for ultimate clarity, the band embraces a light dose of fuzz on “Darvaza,” creating a slick, warm sound perfect for cassette players.
Like “Twenty-Twenty,” “Darvaza” still features much of the same multi-sectional construction with intricate guitars and drumming, and it even offers a bit of an atmospheric sound. Remember, though, that “Darvaza” is named after a giant flaming hole in the ground, so the song is understandably heavy. Its occasional diversions in Metal territory regularly call to mind bands like Tool, Russian Circles, and Tuber.
Side A, Track Two: Brinicle
As with “Darvaza,” it’s useful to dig into some background on brinicles. Brinicles are essentially ice stalactites that form beneath developing sea ice. During their formation, they reach downward and freeze everything they touch while expanding along the ocean floor.
That’s a topic “Brinicle” delivers on—eventually. First, though, the song opens on a beautiful soundscape of electric guitar with notes resonating into the sky—feeling much like the calm, swirling blues of a shallow ocean floor.
When the rest of the band joins, the tension rises, especially through the persistent bass line and frenetic percussion. Around the two-minute mark, there’s a complex arrangement, with tension formed between the aggressive rhythm section and ethereal guitars.
Don’t forget: Brinicles can be dangerous. And in the second half of the song, IKITAN occasionally trades in its beauty for raging, mountainous riffs and dramatic, accented bends.
Side B, Track One: “Twenty-Twenty Live at Forte Geremia”
I’ll kick this off by saying this live recording was filmed and recorded at an altitude of 819 meters (2,700 feet) and in 5°C (41°F) temperatures on what is essentially a hillside. As you can tell from the video above, the band bundled up to brace themselves against the cold—so it would be understandable if they lost a little bit of dexterity before or during their performance.
That said, “Twenty-Twenty Live at Forte Geremia” is as good of a live recording as you could expect for an intricate song like this. Being so heavily rooted in Prog Rock and Post Rock, IKITAN thrives best on the sort of clarity only achieved within a studio effort, but sound engineer Stefano Gualtieri has done an outstanding capturing the IKITAN sound without the noise, wind, and grit of an outside performance.
And despite the elements, the band plays a strong performance on the Genoa countryside.
Final Score: 9/10
Standout Track: “Darvaza”
Pros: After a year of waiting for new music from IKITAN, I was worried about what their follow-up to “Twenty-Twenty” might sound like.
I should have known better.
In exploring the fiery hellscape of the “Door to Hell” and the extreme cold of the brinicle, IKITAN successfully channels nature’s powerful capacity for destruction into 14 minutes of incredible new songwriting, seamlessly blending their Prog Rock, Post Rock, Stoner Rock, and Metal tendencies.
While I’m still excited for an eventual full-length release from IKITAN, Darvaza y Brinicle is packed with all of the excellent songwriting we can come to expect from the Genoa band, so I’m willing to wait a little longer.
Cons: Artistic decisions. The biggest cons of Darvaza y Brincile were artistic decisions that were also calculated risks, and the payoff here is mixed.
For as beautiful and heavy as “Brinicle” can be (and that says a lot about IKITAN’s songwriting and ability to transition seamlessly between emotions), there are a few eyebrow-raising moments, like during that skull-pounding rhythm section beneath the soaring ethereal guitars.
There’s also the decision of adding the live version of “Twenty-Twenty” instead of the studio version. IKITAN writes beautifully intricate songs, and that lends them to writing tracks that sound a little better in the structure of a studio. That’s not a diss to IKITAN in any way, but there are inherent risks in performing such complex Post Rock in mother nature. To put it simply: If a Side B was necessary, the original “Twenty-Twenty” could have been a better choice to reflect the meticulous crafting of “Darvaza” and “Brinicle.”