What a mysterious and delightful earthen clattering. Emanating
from the shores, forests and arctic desert expanses of southern
Finland, Kemialliset Ystävät's main-brain Jan Anderzén
and his occasional cohorts -- Sami Sänpakkilä (Es, Kiila,
Fonal Records owner), Campbell Kneale (Birchville Cat Motel, Celebrate
Psi Phenomenon owner), Dylan Nyoukis (Prick Decay), and a few
other Finnish friends -- create a unique and special blend of
music that HEAVILY embodies the word "psychedelic."
This is music that defies easy categorization: why stifle the
grandeur with labels? This is sound covered in brambles, twigs,
dew, sticky plants and surrounded by eerie mists, sunbeams, strange
scents, and hallucinatory visions. Perhaps these visions inspire
Anderzén's enchanting artwork of colorful, ornate patterns
and neo-cave paintings that adorn the covers and inside panels
of the album.
Alkuhärkä is Kemialliset Ystävät's
second full-length recording for Fonal, and its 44 minutes flit
by like different scenes that connect a drugged, waking dream.
Instead of the long meandering jams that other bands of this ilk
might opt for, Anderzén begets short, mossy mandalas of
sound that rarely reach the three-minute mark. Although small
in timeframe, each of the 18 pieces are packed with detail, fug-dense,
and totally brilliant.
Kemialliset Ystävät (translation: "Chemical Friends")
use a variety of hand drums and percussion, dank and dusty electric
guitars and a bevy of acoustic string instruments which all seem
to have been (de)tuned to an otherworldly tonal logic. They'll
plink, pluck, buzz, drone, spin, and fuzz woozily to the core
of your soon-to-be-blown-out senses. Woodwinds, musty keyboards,
various small toys, wheezing accordions, frozen whistles, bestial
call-and-responses, genderless voices chanting Finnish and/or
wordless prayers are woven with primitive electronics, effects
pedals, and heavy doses of altered-state magick. Some songs are
grounded by primal rhythms, while others soar freely. Underneath
and betwixt the very loose flow of the playing is a variety of
different recording techniques, i.e. speeding sounds up, sloooowing
them down, running things backwards, and recording outdoors. This
experimentation is integral to the wonderfully mind-melding results,
which is that each song literally pulsates with a fascinating
and inexplicable logic. There are perfect balances of seriousness/playfulness,
light/darkness, vivid/hazy, frozen/warm, ancient/now...
I hear a kinship with other sentient beings like Moondog, Angus
Maclise, Amon Düül, and International Harvester. Comparisons
aside, Anderzén still walks/hovers on his own original
path. Each listen to Alkuhärkä is like peeling
off a new layer only to discover something even more breathtaking
than before. Did I just hear a happy gurgling baby during "Kyyn
Sisukiissa", way, way back in a deep crevice of my left inner
ear, or am I in a dream? Within this album of utter loveliness
is some of the most inspired and fantastic music being made today,
anywhere. Just listen... Alkuhärkä is timeless.
As of this writing, KY's first record for Fonal has been out
of print, but it's due for re-release this spring, as well as
a cassette/double 8" from 2000. There are a bunch of other
vinyl, cassette, and CD-R releases that are probably out of print,
or extremely hard to find. Hopefully that will soon change.