Saturday, June 03, 2006


The Finnish avant-whatever underground has been exploding for a while now, and I'll admit to blindly loving all of what I've heard so far, which would include Lau Nau, Kiila, Es, Islaja, Kemialliset Ystävät, Sala-Arhimo, and more. But nothing's hit me like the first thing I heard outta this smoldering region: Ruskeatimantti, Tumult's 2-disc collection of CD-R spew by the mysterious cabal known as Avarus. Now, all of the aforementioned outfits primarily rattle the skeletons of folk, psych/Kraut, or both, and Avarus isn't really an exception on Ruskeatimantti, which sounds mostly like a far-flung, savant-ish version of No-Neck circa their early Sound@One CDs. Still, something about the sandy textures and bubbling activity of Avarus's foggy jams gave me the skin-raised feeling that this is the one Finnish ensemble most likely to trip down the stairs into the noise basement.

Maybe they'd already done so (judging by the broadcast of their Terrastock set, they're continuing to, too), but my own first confirmation of said suspicion is Vesikansi, a four-song head-blast procured by Providence label Secret Eye. There are a few bits of Kraut-meditation and maybe even (if you look so close your eyes start to blur) melodic folk here, but mostly this is high-quality improv noise, spilling over with whining bleats, semi-electronic spew, scraping string-rape, percussive clang, and the growls of the kind of walruses that are pinned to both sides of the CD's cover art. This isn't all aggressive noise - in fact little of it is, and one track, "Löylyvesi," even sounds like a stoner jam, albeit one in which riffs and beats are replaced by a queasily undulating mix of sonic quicksand. But then the Dead C. were rarely "aggressive," and their noise - which Avarus evokes pretty often here - still stands as some of history's best. Vesikansi's not even all great, but even at its mellowest and/or weakest moments, Avarus admirably seeks answers through abstraction and confusion, never settling for a groove but instead trusting that incresasing chaos will be its own mesmerizing reward.

Well of course it will, and Avarus's swirling miasma proves that so forcefully that Vesikansi creates its own disappearing logic, the kind that collapses as soon as you identify it. This is truest on the final two tracks, both of which are called "Vissyvesi," both of which were recorded live with Philly hypno-hymnist Tara Burke (aka Fursaxa), and both of which stream from sky-scraping drones to looping din to drum-guitar climax and back, hitting the kind of multiple peaks that can only be acheived by patient willingness not to always be peaking.

They're also both too long to post, so here's "Lapsivesi," Vesikansi's most fist-forward track, which turns viola-sounding abrasion into meter-filling detonations of thundering noise, and proves that, in the right hands, "limited" recording capability is nothing but a weapon.

AVARUS - "Lapsivesi" from Vesikansi


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