Sunday, July 5, 2009

Es - Kesamaan Lapset (Fonal CD)

Another in from Brainwashed. More coming tomorrow from Stunned, Holy Cheever, etc. (finally...)

Between his roles as both filmmaker and Fonal Records head, Sami Sanpakkila has somehow managed to find time to produce this, his fifth album of solo material under the Es moniker. Citing Pekka Streng's "Kesamaa" as its impetus makes sense considering the immediately nostalgic summer feel of the record, though Es' eyes are set on a much more distant and ethereal horizon than Streng's song-based structures.

The title of the record alone alludes to this intended effect, translating to "The Children of the Summerland." While this is certainly the case however, this is far from a naïve foray into elven territory. Indeed, much of the disc's strength lies in the ample inhabitance of less desirable realms, evoking a balance between tender forest traipsing and, simultaneously, a sense of the deeper mystery just behind the foliage.

The album opens on a glistening and undulatory note with "Ennen Oli Huonommin," whose backing drone grasps at the fluttering bussle of notes emitted atop. The track has the same toying playfulness of labelmate Tomutonttu's output, albeit with a real sense of direction. This forward thrust continues on the brief "Kesa Ja Hymyilevat Huulet," a mix of tinkertoy Casios and a lofty, folkloric vocal line, clarifying the album's role as a collection of songs, albeit highly abstracted, even distracted ones.

The centerpiece of the disc lies in the back-to-back efforts of "Sateet Sun Sielusta" and the album's title track, the most extended efforts here and the ones on which Sanpakkila's constructions are able to fully blossom. The former opens with a brief piano excursion whose increasing density mounts into a full blown meteor shower of trickling lines and hovering drones. Reaching far beyond the skies of many of his contemporaries, the piece is a truly momentous one whose forward thrust continues the consistent sense of trajectory runnning throughout the album.

Following in its wake is the 21-plus minute title track, whose opening vocal lines sway atop a writhing lullaby line before building into a veritable orchestra filling memories of sand castles past. The immense reach of the work is staggering, but never without a sense of intimacy or proximity; this is a series of small moments conjoined by their inherent connections, not a vast singularity too overpowering to remain relatable.

The album's closing track, "Haamut Sun Sydamesta," has a chorus of voices bounding between speakers, rendered foreign by their proximity to the psychedelic mash-up atop them, which I suppose is the idea here. A singer-songwriter album at heart, each piece takes its own path, unfolding without bounds to become a true achievement and one of the most beautiful records of summer.

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