Hannu Karjalainen follows up last years “A Handful Of Dust is a Desert” (Karaoke Kalk, 2017) with “Drift” on the Kingdoms label.
“This seven track mini album on Francis Harris’ Kingdoms sees Karjalainen continue his explorations in new directions – touching on field recordings, soundscapes and esoteric instrumentation to build a truly meditative and moving record.”
“Sermon to the Birds” opens the album with plucked strings that ripple outwards and create a wall of echoes. There is gentleness to the track, that offers a calmness as the music washes over you. Not being too sweet, there still is some slight distortion that adds a bit of menace to the track. Drones that sound like sirens career around the cavernous sound while the strings pluck meditatively. The track feels a swirling vortex of sound that circles the listener.
“Carnivorous Flower” thankfully is musically different to its title. Composed with a selection of fractured sounds, what I would term classical ambience. The music has a great depth to it, with the ambience in the distance and the micro glitches in the forefront. It nicely melds organic and natural sounds alongside those more accustomed to glitch.
#Untitled #34″ introduces minimal beats into the mix of ambience, glitches, dubby bass, snatches of dialog and fragments of noisy electronics. I imagine this as the sort of track that replicates somewhat the sensation when drifting or falling asleep with all manner of things entering your mind. All the elements have tiny spots within the music and in a way the track is a tapestry. There is a consistent feel within the track, but it is limited to sections rather than as a whole track, which gives it a free form or open feel.
“Sunless” has a floating feeling of two main synth ambient elements. After an intro of floating ambience (with an electronic underbelly), the ambience establishes a base for rhythmical synth progressions to bounce over, all with a hint of haze bathing them. A deceptively simple track, but one in which Karjalainen shows his expertise at creating a piece utilizing minimal components that work together without being repetitive, restrictive or boring.
“Nightfall” after the haziness of the previous track it is like the roof has been opened up and a crystal clear sound has space to move and spread out. Embedded within the ambient soundscape are bird song recordings which add a melodic element without sounding overtly like field recordings. The music is exultant in the way that the synths shower the track in light with their multiple layers and their ever fluid movements. With a title track such as this you would expect the music possibly to be more subdued and calming or coming down, but it is a vibrant and rich piece of music.
“That Obscure Object” is full of eclectic sounds jostling for position. Dark squalls of sound, dubby synth sounds, chimes, glitches and other elements provide what is at times an eerie piece of music and at other times reminds of some of Vladislav Delay and his side projects. This is were Karjalainen takes the listener on experimental journey that can be described as leaving the earths atmosphere and heading into space.
“The Nile” with its piano in some ways slightly returns us to echoing plucking of the opener and a sense of full circle. What it demonstrates best is Karjalainen sitting at a piano and begs the listener to hear more. The qualities of such an instrument and the electronic treatments he brings to his music work nicely, as even with sounds on different spectrums, it’s that contrast between electronic and organic that work so well. A nice way to end the album and hopefully direction explored further.
Karjalainen with both his albums under his full name have highlighted his talent of creating slow-moving evocative works which nicely balance the styles and elements that he employs. You get classical ambience, Drones, Electronics – all with his touch and take. The music, while definitely grounded in the ambient genre, is not all the same which makes for a full and well-rounded album and intriguing listen.