Ambient this may (loosely) be, but background listening Korpinkorva certainly is not. A truly cerebral experience spread across four parts, the EP in its entirety conveys ‘a life plagued by mental disorder’, also partly visualised in an accompanying video. It is an almost continuous 25 minutes of sound, yet each section is fairly self-contained – allying to the concept of a capricious mind grasping for sanity. The artist claiming to invite us deep into his own subconscious is Utu Lautturi from Finland, and Korpinkorva is his attempt to make ‘auditive sense of the senseless things within’.
Layers of synth and field recordings are prevalent across the tracks, and acoustic instrumentation rarely emerges from the background; notwithstanding this, each part is distinct. The opener is a profoundly disquieting mix of ambient noise that swells with a machine-like buzz, rustic-sounding acoustic guitar and a distorted monologue speaking of formless shadows and corporeal disfigurement. “Korpinkorva II” starts with what sounds like scripted conversation before a chorused bass interrupts, underpinning a menacing passage that grows and intensifies to a crescendo of distorted drums, white noise and anguished, incantation-like speech, echoing elements of latter-day Kayo Dot and (lower-case) boris.
Most evocative is “Korpinkorva III”, a brooding nine minutes of ambience whose exquisite restraint and whisper of worldly sounds beckon the listener’s imagination to its farthest reaches of unease. The final part is the most desolate – field recordings are layered but sparse, divulging bestial noises and other organic sounds that seem mechanical in their recurrence. A commanding voice then intones a poem against a solitary wind instrument. ‘Grandfathers with their sons discussing, gathering loose ends, forgiving and forgetting…’. The palpable lack of sound manipulation on both the voice and instrument bespeaks a certain newfound clarity of mind, and the starkness and manner of their closing suggest a kind of threnody for forgotten peoples more attuned to the cycle and rhythm of nature.
Indeed, this is music suffused throughout with naturalistic imagery – imagery with layers of metaphor, suggesting both hope and hopelessness. Space. Deserts. Forests. Korpinkorva’s aim to build a ‘strong sense of communion with nature’ certainly shines through, especially in the closing passage, from which the listener derives a sense of – if not hope – then acceptance of its lot. It is a rewardingly understated conclusion to this dense and esoteric work, whose overarching bleakness is penetrated only fleetingly and, when it is, the rays of light that pierce seem more liable to blind rather than guide. (Chris Redfearn)