The second release this year from the new project Nuojuva, Otavaiset Otsakkaha.
It’s difficult really to assign ambient with parameters; it has come to encompass so much now that an enormous array of diverse music now technically falls under its shadow. I think Nuojuva’s work is a pretty indicative work of how diverse it can really be, and how much of a bleed over into other musical styles there is, yet how such a sound can also be so very predictable.
Opener “Ikinae” is very strongly reminiscent of Balam Acab’s work on See Birds, with its bouncy, watery atmospheres and that weird, distinctive vocal processing style we often see within that dubstep/witch-house hinterland. Contrast this with my favourite track of the album “Kohti Iltaa” and we begin to see the complete opposite of the spectrum. Motion Sickness of Time Travel’s Rachel Evans makes an appearance with her whispering vocals and super quiet lo-fi folk and drone underpinnings bear more resemblance to the work Grouper has been doing of late. It’s simply gorgeous as it flows on a bed of gentle acoustic guitar fragments and lightweight lo-fi distortion, carrying a definite underlying musical concept but using that ambient abstraction to just slow everything down and generate an atmosphere.
That Motion Sickness of Time Travel free-folk style creeps in often with this release actually, with tracks like “Punapuola Kankahalla” featuring electronic chirpings that could easily be mistaken for bird-song whilst burying almost everything in a thick, processes fuzz. Vocals become textural entities as the words mutate into barely recognisable drone sequences. Wait, there’s more! “Sarastus” and “Aian Viertae” mix things up even further by bringing in piano fragments. There’s actually something deeply comforting about hearing those seemingly improvised plinkings next to those beautifully dilated vocals, whose meaning has been lost to the aether amidst the wash of electronic feedback and actual guitar instrumentation.
“Sateen Kohinaan” closes things nicely as the distant, somewhat wistful sounds of voices echo in the old, empty space that is this album. It’s a release that speaks greatly of time and space, of separation and regret; all of these sensations are almost clichéd within this sonic style because they are so unavoidable, thanks to the very slow, considered and aged nature of the music.
Otavaiset Otsakkaha is certainly nothing unique or particularly special for the pure and simple reason that it has jumped on a particular sound that has gained popularity lately, but that doesn’t mean that this album isn’t competent or interesting. Arguably yes, it isn’t especially original as it mixes together all these ambient sub-genres, but I do like this. I like it a lot.