Review of Ääniesineitä [12k1034]

No Ripcord (US)

The late, great John Peel would often begin playing records sent him from unknown artists and then, after a few moments, stop the track with an apologetic interjection in his rubicund tones, usually along the lines of, “Oh, I’m sorry, I’m playing that at the wrong speed,” or, “Ah, that’s the wrong side.” On one occasion, I’m sure it turned out he was playing a blank DAT. Antti Rannisto’s debut album on 12k records, which I first played without taking the precaution of reading the press release, inspired a similar reaction in my case, as the first track (all tracks are nameless) is a lengthy monotone blip that I confused initially with the demise of my stereo. Upon checking both machinery and the details from the kindly promoters, I soon realised that rather than a busted hi-fi, I was dealing with an album that I could call strictly neither minimalist nor ambient, but which boasts an electronic sparseness that is almost shocking on first listen.

Ääniestineitä is a first full-length outing for a Finnish artist whose sound emerges from hip-hop, house and experimental electronic music. Only the last is immediately noticeable here on first listening; early tracks on this album fade into the background, with monotones, quiet electronic noises, and the subtlest of percussion. Yet with further listening, and certainly as the album develops, subtle shifts, pans and fades take up the work of rhythm and melody. An almost hypnotic effect takes hold at times, like being trapped in a swarm of benevolent electric bees.

What’s remarkable is that without abandoning his simple, clear palette of sounds, Rannisto creates some ever-so-slightly funky tracks later in the album: a sinewave over a kickdrum, polyrhythmic loops over, perhaps not a bassline, but rather a collection of bass dots, left for the listener to connect. It’s abstraction in the way Paul Klee simplified art down to basic elements: a line, a colour; or the way the White Stripes removed all superfluous instruments from their middle period. There’s little danger of dancing, or even foot tapping breaking out, but instead, those parts of the brain that may inspire dancing are pricked in most satisfying cerebral fashion. An album only for those prepared to listen carefully, and very much for those who enjoy their music frill and flounce free: minimalism that in its extremity is all the more remarkable. 6/10

Reviewed By Ben Bollig

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