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Sculpting silence with picks and amplifiers

by Santeri Kaipiainen

Minimalistic soundscapes in the middle grounds between formal and non-formal experimental music.

It is fair to say that there are many different branches of experimental music: whereas one is made up by composers who have gotten their education in western art music, experimentalism on the other hand has always prospered also in non-academic conditions – as in free jazz, art rock as well as in the fields of electronic music.

Sähkökitarakvertetti (The Electric Guitar Quartet) of Lauri HyvärinenJuhani GrönroosSigurður Rögnvaldsson and Jukka Kääriäinen places itself in these middle grounds between formal and non-formal, and they have been commissioning and performing works by composers from many various areas. The compositions that have ended up on the quartet’s second album are equally slow and with emphasis on timbres in the same manner as those on their debut, but whereas the quartet on their first album I (2022) was lingering in the areas of noise and undulating fields, this II (2022) is even more minimalistic by its nature. It allows space for silence and calibrates its precise texture by means of signal preparations, alternative tunings and microtonal effects.

The Threshold by Merja Ahti begins with singular flageolet-style pickings, which are given the time to linger on and fade away. Occasionally the creeping but sharp notes played on e-bow penetrate in to the abstract architecture of the soundscapes, that by their atmosphere seem to be somewhere in between Morton Feldman and Mika Vainio. When the first chord can be heard somewhere around three and a half minutes in, it sounds like a huge change.

Tropes by Hyvärinen comes closest to the history of the guitar as a rock instrument: the scratching tremolos of its endlessly ascending spiral staircase and the slowly curving, distorted feedbacks have the industrial screechings of metal and bronze, and when they reach their peak they free empty space for aimlessly wandering about like random raindrops.

Everyday Less, Less Everyday by Clara de Asís, which bears a resemblance to The Threshold, closes the triptych symmetrically. The peaceful and reverberating dialogue of the intervals allows space for the beautiful timbre of the electric guitar, and by its ambiance it is equally well suited for an installation as well as for meditation.


Sähkökitarakvartetti – II

Self-published, 2022


Translation: Ralf Sandell