Es - "A Love Cycle" (Fonal Records)
Killa - "Heartcore" (Fonal Records)
From Aural Innovations #19 (April 2002)
Es is the solo project of Fonal Records head honcho Sami Sanpakkila, and while his debut (Flick, on the (K-RAA-K)3 label) focused on digital manipulations of guitar, here he uses 3 turntables, bought for $10 a piece at thrift stores, plus a few stomp boxes. The title track opens the disc, with a loop of what sounds like an old school big band jazz lp. After several minutes this evolves into tripped out noise sound collage, and the original loop gradually reappears and disappears into the pedal induced murk. "Les Fleurs Sont Des Bonnes Audtrices" follows a similar path, although based around a piano motif and has a vocal bit as well. The third piece changes gears, and is much more percussive/aggressive in sound. The final track, "She Puts Out the Fire in Her Heart With Her Tears", could almost pass for dark ambient, combining snippets of classical music with scratchy record noise to create an impressive twelve-minute dirge, gradually dissolving into an industrial dronescape. Despite the fact that this record is basically a record of sample manipulations, it is a very human feeling record, as opposed to the distinctly cold and sterile feel of most of the digital plunderphonics that characterizes most computer-based sampled music. To what extent this is due to the compositional method, sound sources, or the intent of the composer is hard to say, but it's definitely there. How much one can enjoy sample/loop based music like this may as likely as not depend on the sound sources that are used and how much they appeal to the listener, but it remains that this is a creative record and makes for compelling repeated listens.
Heartcore is the debut full length (they have a couple of EPs also) from the duo Killa, which is a collaborative project between Sami of Es and friend Niko-Matti Ahtti. Stylistically speaking this record is all over the map, from tightly structured quirky little rock songs with a bit of abstract electronic sampling thrown in ("Contemporaries", "Fireburnroot", "Holy Melancholy") and tweaked folk ("Set the Storms Aside") to heavy feedback/noise squall ("Verbranntes Land", "Heartcore") and loose guitar strum ("She's Too Good", "Crystal Fields"). There is some really great stuff on here, and what I find to be the more compelling tracks - the more loose/improv sounding stuff - really comes down to a matter of taste in the end, and I am sure that there are plenty of folks who would prefer the tightly structured songs more. There is a great deal of promise here, and a bunch of really cool ideas, but somehow as a whole it comes off as a bit disjointed, almost sounding more like a compilation of bands rather than just one.
For more information you can visit the Fonal Records web site at: http://www.fonal.com.
Reviewed by Brian Faulkner