Review: Taneli Viljanen – Metallisilmä, Haaksirikko (Glistening Examples, Apr 11)

Metallisilmä, Haaksirikko sounds almost exactly like its cover art, with Finnish artist Taneli Viljanen knitting together various textures into patchwork quilts of sound. And just like a quilt, none of them really go together when you look closely, but the final product is something unpredictably beautiful. Viljanen draws from a variety of sound sources, utilizing anything from untreated sine tones to field recordings of what sounds like a cafeteria. More noises enter the colorful collages as the tracks progress; on “Helmiäiskallo, Myskimalva,” an unidentifiable soft scraping dominates the mix, darting back and forth between the left and right channels atop the aforementioned elements and the sound of a horde of chirping crickets. That is, until it all cuts out, and we’re left with a recording of a child playing, the sudden transition reminding the listener just how many layers had been piled on. On the album page, it’s stated that Viljanen wanted to explore several contrasts. Some of these, such as “the mundane and the uncanny,” are easily picked out; while others, like “the abstract and the visceral,” could be said to be represented by many different things. The latter I find most intriguing. While many of the other binaries are portrayed by the juxtaposition of different sounds, many of the elements used are both abstract and visceral on their own, such as the soft scraping noise I mentioned earlier; its prominence and persistence causes an immediate reaction, but when I try to analyze it further it evades me. These are the strange questions that Metallisilmä, Haaksirikko raises and encourages; and even if you don’t like to think about such things while you listen, the album is immersive, chromatic, and gorgeous all on its own.

Today is a great day to buy stuff from Glistening Examples; in honor of the late Harrison Lescalleet’s birthday and the anniversary of the original release, curator Jason Lescalleet’s emotional opus The Pilgrim is available for the fitting price of $4.11. Also, a promising new album by Caroline Park rounds out the release batch.

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