October 18, 2010
Kesämaan Lapset [Children of the Summerland] - Es
Y brawd declares a week of Finnish delight centred around Sami Sänpäkkilä's Fonal label. Harking back to days when an album's label stamp was indicative of a definable sound, Sami has orchestrated one of the most fruitful, stylistically consistent labels of the decade; stock in trade: Finnish experimental folk and electronica.
Accordingly, we open with Sami's own transcendent Kesämaan Lapset (2009) under the Es moniker. Released four years on from the kaleidoscopic drone and chant of Sateenkaarisuudelma, Kesämaan Lapset dials down the former's glorious sprawl while exploring accessible electronic soundworlds in tribute to 70s Finnish acid-folkie Pekka Streng (more on Pekka later this week). This would explain the record's nostalgic summer feel, though eyes are set on much more distant and ethereal horizons than Streng's song-based structures.
We know we're on to something very special from the get go: Ennen Oli Huonommin fanfares a flamboyance of irridescent analog chirrups and twitters that skitter and dazzle across four major key minutes. Clearly, we're at the bright electronica end of the Fonal spectrum far from the lo-fi folk forest dwellers. For all that, the opening conjures a sense of immanence and mystery that weave through the rest of the listen.
Next comes cheery homespun ditty Kesa Ja Hymyilevat introducing spacy vocals and free-roaming electronics. Vaguely reminiscent of Magical Power Mako. Then things start to get really interesting. Sateet Sun Sielusta plays with some piano phrases only to build into a celebratory cascade of drone combining disciplined minimalism with mind-manifesting kosmische synthesiser worship.
Still reeling from the meteor shower of trickling lines and deep-space drones the listener hops aboard title track Kesämaan Lapset and a twenty minute ride from personal space and childhood summers past to euphorically expansive vistas of the possible. The first phase uses a repeated piano phrase - almost a Dvořák steal - as nostalgic and pastoral grounding. This develops into electronic trills, washes and field (or maybe simulated) recordings summoning woods, streams and sea-shore adventure. The final enveloping section builds to a heavenly crescendo worthy of Popol Vuh at their most blissed out and transcendent. Heady stuff.
The closing, comparatively brief Haamut Sun Sydamesta is a necessary psychedelic come down, serving to remind us that however abstracted the journey has been, this is a singer-songwriter album at heart. Which brings us back to Pekka.
This recording will enrich your life.
Let y brawd know what you think.
Oddi wrth y brawd