Friday, 19 July 2013

Es - 'Kaikkeuden Kauneus Ja Käsittämättömyys' (Fonal)

Es is Fonal label chief Sami Sänpäkkilä's project, and he's always kept one of the lower profiles amongst his own label's output, releasing a handful of albums over the past decade. This one is from 2004, though it was recorded mostly a few years before, and features ten generally low-energy explorations of texture, ambience and space. Female vocalists adorn it, sometimes front and centre (as on the opening cut 'Surullisille, Onnettomille...') and sometimes in a more distant fashion. It's well recorded, but not too hi-fi -- the CD uses homespun digital technology to create a soundplace that is crisp when it wants to be, though not particularly distinctive at that. There's a lot of synth, played in spooky, Goth-leaning styles, but then with acoustic instruments creeping in to give everything a somber, Finnish take on the 4AD aesthetic (or at least, what used to be the 4AD aesthetic). My Finnish isn't good enough to understand any lyrics or titles, but that's part of the pleasure of these artists - if the lyrics are great, we live in mystery, and if they're bad, we're spared the awfulness. There's no shortage of the ol' digital delay, here sounding more like a skipping CD - making a track such as 'Puutarhaan laskeutuu höyhen' an uneasy blend of here and there, reminding me of Biota/Mnemonists except lacking the exuberance. Digital static pokes in as well, and the start-stop nature of the textures sometimes jars against the songwriting. But I've always found this Es disc interesting - it's a lot less freakazoid than Avarus or Kemialliset Ystävät, yet far from conventional. The title track is the closer, a 9 minute bad trip that's built around an indecisive church organ and some eerie chanting. It requires a monk-like attention span but offers a rewarding heart-lift when it's complete.

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