Boomkat Product Review:
Marja Ahti collaborator Niko-Matti Ahti evokes the great Henning Christiansen on this charming set of domestic concréte.
Despite being involved in the Finnish underground since the 1990s and having an extensive catalog of recordings with Marja Ahti under the Ahti & Ahti moniker, Niko-Matti Ahti has waited until now to unleash his debut solo recording. Originally imagined as an installation, 'Kaivajaiset' takes its inspiration from a 1649 pamphlet from the Diggers, a proto socialist group of religious and political dissidents in England.
"True freedom lies where a man receives his nourishment and preservation, and that is in the use of the earth," wrote Gerrard Winstanley. Also referencing Foucault's extension of Nietzsche's concept of genealogy, the installation was a collection of printouts, collages and sounds, and this album collects up the sonic data. Split into two distinct parts, each divided into four, it's a tense assembly of classical instrumentation (violin, clarinet, bass and flute) and close-miked domestic sounds that slithers between the world of radio drama (or hörspiel) and more stuffy musique concréte expressions.
The first part is restrained at first, with heaving, scraping instrumentation offset by quaint environmental recordings that offer punctuation and narrative drive. We can't quite work out exactly what might be going on, but the sounds are visceral enough to provide a psychic outline. Like Henning Christiansen's befuddling long-form concréte operas, Ahti's ambitious installation soundtrack is grounded by its dynamic use of space and silence. Conversations lapse through the stereo field and interrupt bubbly field recordings, loose cable noise and theatrical woodwind blasts, entangling themselves in household sounds: a pot being filled, food being chopped, etc. If it sounds humdrum, it's supposed to be on some level. Ahti is representing his subject matter sonically, and attempting to portray an agrarian life - and how that might fit into history - using oblique musical references. Very curious material, and very good.