Beta-lactam Ring Records mt122w
Led by Jan Anderzen, Kemialliset Ystävät are the most visible of Finland’s sub-operatives and the most consistently rewarding. They work in short, spooling instrumentals, building layers of simple repetitive riffs into laminal mudcakes and weaving ghosts of folk song into huge tunnels of drone. Alkuhärkä is their latest Fonal release, another entry in an already barely-quantifiable back catalogue. This one sees their sound slightly rewired in a bid to further bolster the electronic element, with several tracks evoking the cracked neon skies of David Bowie’s Berlin trilogy as well as the early synth experiments of Asmus Tietchens. But overall the sound is acoustic and communal, albeit occasionally propelled by the kind of tranced rock base that launched previous Scandinavian sound thinkers like International Harvester and Träd Gräs och Stenar straight into space. 18 tracks flit past like landscapes glimpsed from a train: marching band melodies scored for duck calls and bells, huge fields of teleporting percussion, accordion-led music box refrains and heartbreaking almost-songs carried on tides of wordless vocals. Recommended. Limited to 500 copies on 220g vinyl.