Boomkat Product Review:
RVNG.’s FRKWYS foster another dream union with the first/last meeting of Finnish avant-jazz legend Pekka Airaksinen and US psych spirit Ka Baird.
Recorded six months before Pekka Airaksinen departed this mortal coil in 2019, and left behind an unparalleled catalogue of solo trips and work with Sperm, ‘Hungry Shells’ sees him find an ideal foil in Ka Baird, whose freeform solo sides have come to subtly echo Pekka’s mindful psychedelia in the modern sphere.
Brought together for Le Guess Who? festival in Utrecht, Holland, the pair wrote and recorded the album around rehearsals for performance at the festival, drawing on time spent together during long walks around the city’s medieval canals, as well as Pekka’s time meditating in his hotel room, for a wholly absorbing consolidation of their already complementary styles, finely sustaining the radical spirit of the late ‘60s scene that Pekka came from for an album that surely nourishes the psychedelic needs of a new generation.
It’s easy to hear each artist’s hallmarks on the record, with Pekka’s signature 808 patterns and Buddhist texts appearing alongside Ka’s shapeshifting vocals and tonal minimalism, but the results arguably transcend their inputs, eliding their spirits to achieve a sort of probing pineal insight. In a spellbinding back and forth, Ka reads Pekka’s Buddhist parables, divined during meditation, as a constant theme through the record, which is prone to lean heavily between silvery rhythmic works and passages of eye-gyring psych lushness. From the pulsating noise and trilling keys of ‘Big Stoen Small Stone’ to the whirligig of fumes, vox and 808 in ’Syzygy (For Pekka)’, thru the wormhole of ‘Grey Body’ to impishly possessed dance of ‘Roseclouds’ and their spiralling nine minute closer ‘Hungry Shells’ it all delivers at least your RDA of psychedelic goodness, and leaves a fitting testament to the durability and singularity of Pekka’s legendary oeuvre, a legacy Ka Baird is well placed to continue.