Artist: Ester Poland
Ester Poland is a Finnish experimental duo and in a hilariously intimate twist the artwork that comes with this release reveals the bedroom in which (I presume) they recorded the music. Given the incredible weirdness of the music, this domestic imagery strikes me as marvellously (and even somehow appropriately) incongruous.
This single lengthy track is a chaotic, raucous experimental release with a science fiction aesthetic (of that kind of sci-fi which the world of the 1970’s projected onto the future) and a wildly undisciplined impact.
Weaving together endless drones, buzzes, programmed arpeggios, beeps, along with more conventional synth piano and heavily processed guitars, Sateenvarjo spills out over the listeners’ ears with an inexorable and torrential momentum.
Occasionally the random splatter of acoustic guitar chords join the music, threaded through the vast trails of echoing and reverberating keyboard and electronic guitar noises. This creates an incongruous effect, like a street busker stranded somewhere in the Milky Way and performing for passing flying saucers.
The music tends to be barely musical – often it strikes me more as a barrage of conflicting sounds. The elements themselves may be musical but the net effect of their concatenation is very unconventional and, indeed, alien.
Woven through the chaotic morass of keys and guitars and delay are strange vocals, of one or many people yelling, shouting or the like. Not, as far as I can tell, articulating lyrics – more like “uuruurughghggh” or “woohoowwwoowhhoooo”.
Sometimes small fragmentary vocal loops come to the form but it is really impossible to see them as more than just another element in the sonic chaos.
Apart from the occasional recurring motif, there really isn’t much sense or structure to this release – it’s a very anarchic musical experience. There seems to be no sense to when or why different elements enter or leave the mix; often it really does sound random or perhaps like they just recorded a whole heap of fragments and then compiled them digitally in a purposely quick and haphazard fashion.
Unfortunately this means that there is little narrative to this release and little dynamic development. It doesn’t really sustain any theme long enough to begin to move us into a different state of consciousness or point of reference.
The scattered and fragmented assault of the music/noise is disorienting and obtrusive. I find personally that the music is too cluttered and unstructured to sustain focussed listening; but too jarring and awkward to serve well as ambient/background music.
Yet it isn’t “extreme” or particularly dark or abrasive. Somehow I find myself able to prefer much uglier and more elemental music to this.
As such it sits uncomfortably in my awareness: either my brain is not sophisticated enough for this outing or this outing just isn’t all that great. And I really hate to say it – but I actually find my interest shutting down completely after a while. It takes an effort to sit through the whole thing and not feel bored (and again, this from someone who can find very minimal ambient to be riveting!)
The music comes across as though it seems to think itself very clever – but really, there isn’t much risk taking or vision that I can detect. That’s a pretty damning response to make, and I as always am hesitant to be so harsh, but this is just the truth of my experience. I’ve listened repeatedly in order to overcome my aversion but although this strategy often helps me - well, it doesn’t in this case.
Positive comments? These guys certainly know how to manipulate sounds and they have many interesting ideas. I like the way they weave polyrhythmic synth lines together too. The problem is that there doesn’t seem to be much thought for the big picture and so what might be interesting in small doses becomes a source of tedium when it runs for 38 or so minutes.
Still, Ester Poland seemto have plenty of life left in them and if they can temper their florid imaginations with more clarity, direction and pre-meditation then their future releases might offer something much more intriguing. No need, then, to automatically avoid them in future – but do listen before you buy.