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Published: 2008/12/14
by Randy Ray

Split Series #19 – Kemialliset Ystt/Sunroof!


FatCat Records’ Split Series #19, featuring tracks from two artists, is especially tantalizing as the dual work includes prolific Finnish avant-garde music sculptors Kemialliset Ystt, and uber guitar noise architect Matthew Bower, who has been equally productive over the last quarter century as both a solo artist, band leader, and recently, the collective he fronts called Sunroof!

Kemialliset YsttFinnish for “chemical friends"is led by Jan Anderz who often spins his wildly experimental sound collages as a solo act. On this release, Anderzplays along with fellow musicians Sami SilRoope Eronen, Niko-Matti Ahti, Tomas Regan, Markus M, and Elissa Mtn. #19 finds the Scandinavian collective rooted in brief sonic tapestries that are reserved in their abstract tendencies. Voices hum, liquid drips, percussion tinkers, and acoustic and electric instruments live peacefully together in multi-dimensional co-habitation. Whereas last year’s self-titled LP was a brilliant summation of the band’s career with a clearly definitive stab at a unified theme, this release is an interesting sampling of what the band does without being too innovative, challenging, or oppressive.

Heady? Indeed, but Anderzis best heard over the course of a long, patient statement, and these five cuts hold together as a cohesive whole, but don’t offer a substantial portrait of the band’s extensive montage capabilities. Then again, this sort psychedelic Oriental sound collage via Finland folk and rock influences, Split Series, is a fine introduction to the band. Tracks like “Pirtua Raamatun Kansissa” (stuck in a loop, trance music and weird electronica float atop a nifty repetitive percussion beat) and “Tassa Maassa Kun Nain Makailen” (numerous sections groove through a fantastic tube of imagery in a brilliant audio treat) feature beautiful examples of their self-contained Finnish magic.

Sunroof! crafts a combination of Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music, Jimmy Page’s elaborate Theremin/violin bow/electronic-treated guitar solo on the 1977 Led Zeppelin tour, and Sonic Youth’s Wall of Sound feedback on the Sunroof! half of the #19 release. Guitarist Matthew Bower digs into three tracks with ear-bleeding confidence that no melody is ever going to escape from his overloaded amplifiers. And that’s a good thing as one hears chainsaws, a bird assault, forests decimated, motorcycles demolished, riffs elongated, knobs damaged to the nth degree, and sublime occultist drones gliding under an almighty thunder of righteous rage clothed in guitar anti-techniqueyou know, your basic soundtrack to our modern apocalypse.

Bower titles his three cuts with black metal aplomb, too (“Little Ornamental Lake of Death,” “Spiritual Forgery,” and “Extinction Fantasy”) and yet, he never falls prey to using his guitar for anything but an angry tool of intelligent communication. You can hear what Bower is trying to achieve on tracks like the epic “Extinction Fantasy,” and damned if he doesn’t come pretty close to that goala seismic tremor on an artistic sub-level that doesn’t need melody or lyrics to hammer out a fairly decent tune filled with humanity. And a shitload of dissonance.

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