HEY! Get updates to this and the CD and 7" blogs via Twitter: @VinylUnderbite

10 December 2017

Pekko Käppi - 'Vuonna '86' (Singing Knives)

Pekko Käppi's Vuonna '86 is a record I forgot I had, but it's absolutely perfect as a way to clear the weekend cobwebs on this Sunday morning. It's also a nice way to inaugurate the Ks of this project. Käppi's a Tampere, Finland based musician who ostensibly works out of traditional Finnish sounds but to say that really that only really makes sense as, to use an annoyingly overbaked phrase, a 'starting point'. This is a glowing, electric batch of songs, saturated in reverb, distortion, and other household effects but each held together by Käppi's confident crafting. There's moments of pure Dionysian hell music like 'Oilin Ennustus', where all kinds of broken, buzzing electronics explode in a total cacophony, yet despite the menacing tone it never collapses under its own chaos, with various soundrings keeping an orbit. Other tracks employ the traditional vibe, in terms of instrumentation – 'Naria Hakkaan' is a bowed instrument, probably a jouhikko, grinding back and forth in a style that is hypnotic and minimal, yet with an ineffable, devilish spark. Käppi's work always has this sense of madness to it, whether he's assembling electronic drones into a dense wall of sound, or performing traditional songs ripped straight from the Kaleva; if you have seen him live, there's always a hint of something that's not darkness, not aggression, but something else; perhaps it's just an off-kilter confidence. This is all over Vuonna '86, heard in his singing on 'Kuolleitten Kuppahan' (which is simultaneously twisted and beautiful) or on the title track, or anywhere else. A lot of these songs feel like they are following a simple back-and-forth structure, a 1-2-1-2-1 that ratchets up the pressure as it goes along but then most cuts end before they wear out their welcome. Of course, the Finnish language is extremely strange to everyone in the world minus about 5 million people, and most of them probably aren't listening to this. 'Vuonna '86' makes that most clear, with a spoken voice anchoring it's outer explorations, something ripped from the radio or media perhaps, but feeling as natural in the bed of static and searing overtones as one could be. Maybe the secret to Pekko Käppi is that he's not a 'noise' artist at all but a master craftsman, and his constructions glow with their own internal logic and harmony.

No comments:

Post a Comment