Οι Paavoharju και η αγάπη των «μουσικοκριτικών»…

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Με 7.8 προίκισε το ‘δύσκολο’ pitchfork.com το «Yhä hämärää» των Paavoharju:

«The back flap of Yhä hämärää captures a black interior squinting at green bushes. Framed by the room’s torn sun-brightened curtains, small shapes spell out codes on the glass but it’s hard to distinguish exactly what’s leaving the dim traces. Paavoharju is just as enigmatic. The Finnish trio’s yet to accrue much stateside press, and the lack of outside English-language material forces the reviewer to face the music like a blank slate, scratching nascent opinions onto what will hopefully become a larger dialogue.

Ragnar Rock, Olli Ainala, and Lauri Ainala hail from the island town of Savonlinna. The ascetic born-again Christians recorded Yhä hämärää between 2001 and 2005, setting their Emersonian lyrics (all sung in Finnish) to a fluctuating electro-acoustic background that threads short-wave, field recordings, reggae beats, pinball sounds, sunken sea shanties, Sublime Frequencies radio scrambles, the somber choir of a backwoods congregation, operas made of cheap electronics, spectral female voices (with the occasional male bird song), chamber muses, midnight ambiance, and omnipresent crackles. If forced to choose a kindred Finnish group, Es’ grave soundtracks would be closest in dusty elegance, but Paavoharju presents a more curious mixture– a Fursaxa/Cocteau Twins B-Movie soundtrack, Sigur Rós locked in an underground cavern with Slowdive, or perhaps Syd Barrett jamming with Incredible String Band beneath a waterfall.

The permutations are various: «Valo tihkuu kaiken läpi» («Light trickles through everything») merges hippie guitars, dippy drum machines, keyboard fritz, avalanching distortion crests, and Bollywood vocals. The lyrics deal with wind, waves, and spiritual replenishment or manifestation: «The branch bows/ Skims the surface of the water/ Breaking my reflection/ Your image it reveals.» Then there’s «Kuu lohduttaa huolestuneita» («The moon comforts the troubled»), the phantom interior shot of a symphonic drowning.

Like much of the album, «Syvyys» («The deep») feels as though it was recorded with water pipes running through its structures– leaky, rusted veins. The track accrues the flavor of Edenic Noh Drama backed with a loose cable and distorted pong. «Puhuri» («The Gust») is a pile of pianos for Diamanda Galas to scat across with an electronic dragonfly. Its lyrics are beautifully puzzling: «The crows shattered the sky with their song/ Children tearing tree lichen– forgetting what was told/ After the gale that screamed while dying– silence/ That conjures a fire on its arrival.»

Nothing clots long enough on Yhä hämärää to be considered a tendency. When something seems familiar or you come to expect a certain type of programing, Paavoharju pitch a mossy curve ball. A poppy (or poppy-seed) strummer, «Aamuauringon tuntuinen» («Felt like the morning sun») has myriad guitars, faint percussion, and elegiac vocals working into translucent psychedelia. «Kuljin kauas» («I travelled far») is a mournful vision quest sung by one of the males; the guitar and crunky low-bit percussion are joined by a Snoop Dogg pitch-shifter (seriously) as the drum gets louder for the chorus. Here and there, a female voice trills behind the male. More upbeat is «Musta katu» («Black street»), which uses reggae drums, music box fuzz, and more male vocals along with something that sounds like harpsichord with a creakier underside. The song’s protagonist has walked along a black street to an inn where he gathers all the words and «even picks up the ones fallen on the ground.» An inspired closer, the song’s a jubilant charm.

The band has stated that Yhä hämärää is an attempt to «reflect inner landscapes» and offers a list of «highly inspiring places» including «graveyard, sewers, disco, the beach at redpoint, rooftops at night, alcoholic’s home, churches, Uukuniemi, foggy fields, sauna, my bed.» This is a personal quest, and its hard to say if they succeeded, but Yhä hämärääpossesses the magical giddiness of an unknown radio station tapped into momentarily while traveling unfamiliar back roads. When the signal bows out after the next hill, you’re jolted back into the everyday, left only with the sounds of your own breathing, those other vehicles passing.»

Το δε tinymixtapes.com με 3.5/5:

«In addition to Christianity’s now inextricable link to heinous politics in America, contemporary Christian music has another strike against it. Think, for example, of a wonderful love song. Now imagine that the song, instead of trying merely to communicate undying/burning/obsessive/passionate love, is trying to get other people to love the song’s subject. Then, tinker with the song so that it fits into a time-tested genre (power ballad) or ‘extreme’ genre (pop-punk) so that it will appeal to the kids who are straying. While this is based on an impression I get rather than extensive research, I’m just not compelled to learn more. Oddly, then, it was upon learning the rumor that Paavoharju was a collective of born-again Christians that the band intrigued me. Instead of assured preaching, Yhä Hämärää is a testament to mystery, uncertainty, and beauty, evident even without understanding the lyrics. Opening up with the gentle noise collage of «Ikuisuuden Maailma,» the aural palette is cleansed for «Valo Tihkuu Kaiken Läpi,» which serves as a template for what will come: gentle acoustic guitars, layers of electronic noises, and a beautiful voice floating above it all. This is not to imply that the album does not vary; in fact these same ingredients are employed to create a notable amount of diversity, even veering towards a rock sound by the album’s end. More than instrumentation, though, the songs are linked together by merit of being some of the most beautiful, mysterious music in recent memory.»

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