Olli Aarni – Puu tuulessa (Cotton Goods, 2015)


It’s been a few years now since I last listened to an album by Aarni, specifically the dreamy Otavaiset Otsakkaha under his Nuojova alias from way back when in HearFeel’s formative days in 2012; it’s nice to know that Puu tuulessa seems to follow in the same dusty vein of music as those melodies I loved from 3 years ago.Comprised of just two 15 minute pieces, we catch a glimpse of the natural world and its own smeared perception of time drifting lazily by in its trees and streams and rocks, the music summoning ethereal images of timeless landscapes aging imperceptibly in slow motion.

“Pohjoistuuli”, or “Northerly”, is the first, and my favourite, of the two. Its exact 15 minute span is nothing more than dawdling thin drones and barely detectable field recordings wrapped up in a slowly oscillating, glowing lo-fi fuzz, a crinkling and warbling fabric that really captures a lightly decaying and tired atmosphere within its proceedings. The fragile guitar drones creak out of the greyscale visage of the mix, hovering daintily in time and space as these distortions and slow changes curl around them, warping through time to match the languid pace of the life around them albeit seemingly captured in their sundowning era, the piece wilting away across its duration as the light falls and then suddenly descends below the horizon, the moment of recall halted and the suspension dropped.

It’s followed up by the initially rather more quiet “Puro” (“Creek”), painting its own canvas with extremely placid beds of thin drone and faint chirrups from the cool surrounds, the glassy stream reflecting back the quiet noises of the local wildlife in the low sun. This first half seems to pass us by in no time whatsoever, and quickly (by this record’s standards) the piece begins to morph, channeling some of the same lo-fi hums and waves of its predecessor alongside new textures, particularly female vocal coos as it begins its migration into more avant-folk territories. If anything it becomes even more saturated by age, its tired melodies struggling through the memory banks along jaded circuits, coming to the surface in little fits and starts, pleasant moments losing coherency but none of their sentimental value.

Puu tuulessa isn’t the natural world as we see it in the present, its the nostalgic eye casting back to see it as we once knew it and all its tantalising and beautiful memory, as well as providing a glimmer of insight into its resilient future, its subtle evolution through the years and ages to come. Everything about it is slow paced, easygoing and brilliantly defined even though it seems to capture so many nuanced feelings and sensations simultaneously, and there’s this beautiful aura of familiarity to the music too, something so organic and unquantifiable it seems like it’s come right from the soul rather than from the top of the head. Although I think some of “Puro” is a little dark and unappealing at times, I love how spacious and lost in thought it feels, a carefree daydream marvelling at the innocent beauty of the world around it, a really wonderful little album.