Olli Aarni – Nielu (Florabelle, 2017)

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The Solstice looms, one of the pair of symbolic days that cleaves the year in two, though one is significantly more welcome than the other. Winter approaches fast, and with it the turbulence of uncertainty in the weather’s fickle states, each day a potential battle anew between eerie, cold calm and punishing precipitation.

Nielu is “vortex”, it’s “swallowing”: there is a force at work here that captures the stormy and ill-tempered mood of the hemisphere’s seasonal low point. Split into two parts, initial “Hehkuva Tuuli” or “Glowing Wind” begins already in progress, a shivering energy without a sense of beginning in a characteristically scuzzy froth of tickling static and soft guitar loops amidst shimmering rain.

It has a circular presentation, kneading over itself in evolving squalls, wind and rain becoming increasingly dramatic elements in its tropospheric journey. Their impression is muted somewhat, as though behind glass, below the safety of roofs and covers. This natural sound is slowly paved over by crushed, distal drones that densify to a dull roar, Gaia unsatisfied with our bleary reaction to her presence. Focus sharpens, senses heighten as the sonic cloth strains in the storm’s deepest moments, wind humming to return a sense of awe in the throat of god.

Second half “Sumuhuntu” (Misty Veil) is a completely different animal, a consumptive force that works quietly and from afar. The movements here are less laboured and time sensitive, seconds unspooling into hours as a soft haze of drones hangs wetly in the air, clinging to crags and hillsides, settling into hollows and sliding round tree trunks. Aqueous drippings and burblings find themselves enriched, white sheeting streams threading down the slopes out beneath the hooded tops.

It transmutes into a spectral force, the careful loops thinning out into humming, ghostly atmospherics; a thin veneer of fear is scraped out as the cloud descends to obfuscate all. The unknown begins to engulf us, the world lost to a grey curtain quietened by the thickening air. What does it hide? What evil does it shelter? Only the feeling of disorientation, of loss, confusion, all mustered in the wake of absence.

“Swallowing” indeed: Nielu will suck you down into its depths with alarming ease, but of course you might already be right there alongside it with the Winter Blues.

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