Ous Mal is dead, came the announcement. So soon? We’d barely got to know each other and now, now, it’s all over? Perhaps some things were never meant to be… Or perhaps, Ous Mal was merely the first stage, for now, like a phoenix from the ashes, comes Nuojuva. It’s still Olli Aarni but slightly, subtly, different. More confident, more collaborative, as if discovering that he’s not alone and there are like-minded individuals across the globe. Sophie Hutchings contributes piano here, whilst Rachel Evans (Motion Sickness of Time Travel) provides some of her haunting, ethereal vocals.
The whole experience of listening to Valot Kaukaa is like watching mist rise slowly on a cool autumnal morning, tranquil and yet mysterious. The music seems so delicate at times that it could dissolve into nothingness if not handled gently enough. Yet this fragility hides captivating half-refrains and shards of melody; none more so than the ghostly choir on “Huominen”. There are plenty of incidental pastoral details, too (birdsong, bells) on the album, each given room to breathe through Aarni’s thoughtful arrangements.
Those who have spent the last couple of years in the company of Ous Mal may find themselves slightly wrong-footed by Nuojuva. Although the arrangements are sparser on Valot Kaukaa, they are less defined; hazier, without much obvious rhythm to provide focus. But this haziness works to the album’s benefit, with a greater consistency of mood.
The result is an album that is unhurried and enveloping – it reveals its secrets over time and at its own pace. Oddly, I find myself playing it alongside the title track of Paddy McAloon’s I Trawl The Megahertz; although musically disparate there is a mournful nostalgia that seem to unite the two, perhaps there’s a subliminal connection between the static crackle on “Hämärään” and the evocative theremin-like radio tuning sound on Megahertz. But enough talk of nostalgia and mourning – Ous Mal is dead… Long live Nuojuva! (Jeremy Bye)