Olli Aarni – Loput (Laaps, 2022)

There’s this moment, in the first of Aarni’s two track Loput, “Aallokossa”where the tidal drones and oscillating tones that form the listless atmospherics give way. For a brief, shining time there’s a feeling of dissolution, the melancholic vibrations melting away like sandcastles facing a relentless sea, all aquamarine and insistent. It paves the way for a period of light and hopefulness, however transient, tearing down these edifices of temporary malignant thought and feeling.

Since 2020 there’s only ever really been this sense of grace in moderation, of respite in ephemerality. Whenever it seems as though times are changing the tide goes out again and simply leaves us stranded high and dry, left to desiccate helplessly in a forbidding and uncaring world. “Aallokossa” and its brief foray into something new and brighter seem to me to be the embodiment of life’s carelessness with us in recent time, teasing us with the possibility of escape.

The collective flattening of sophomore “Huoneen Ylla” is testament to that generalised state of being. It fills the second half of the runtime with a glassy drone expanse, textured in that particular way that only Aarni seems able to do. It thrums and crackles and heaves, but is demure, not lumbered by drama. Rather, it simply is, presenting nothing other than the essence of its statement: the pitiless, apathetic face of the Universe. The unexciting wind of time’s advance over a modern world struggling with its identity.

It’s difficult to talk about the condition of Aarni’s minimal approach, and I’m hesitant to paint it as the morose picture I may have done (actually it’s been a rather soothing late-night album for me these last two weeks, slipping off to sleep). The Köner-ian reminiscences of the second half in particular just evoke such a glacial, cool feel that strikes me as inescapably melancholic in a time that is, itself, also seemingly inescapably melancholic.

But that sliver, that thin strand of light that seems to run through its core like some hidden streak of gold, is enough hope to cling on to no matter how irrepressibly flat life becomes.