There is the kind of music that resists conventional labelling and thus triggers the instant need for sophisticated categorisation for any music nerd. “Experimental chamber music fragments for listening to in a dark cube”? “Edgy nordic soundscape for the ages”? These could certainly enlighten much of what Barlast’s recent release delivers. But the band’s self-definition just has a better grasp of their own music, showing that they rule the words as much as the sounds – “spacious new music with a silence echoing in the background. The silence can be heard between the notes. Everything unnecessary is stripped away.”
The silence does echo in the background and it can be heard between the notes indeed. Is everything unnecessary stripped away? Hell yes! As the bonmot about sculpting goes, the sculpture is there at the start inside the marble, you just have to chip away what is unnecessary – this is how I imagine Barlast’s work method and knowing what’s not necessary, knowing how to be just enough is knowing everything. Proportionality in harmony and disharmony, density and scarcity, loudness and silence is the key to the alchemy of Barlast’s sound.
Musik för Scener is made of fluid sounds, underpinned by Philip Holm’s double bass as the only solid sonic ingredient in the mixture (except in Roppongi Beat, the album’s only more or less conventionally structured composition). The otherwise ambient sound carpet flies by the wings of Heikki Hänninen’s shy guitar sounds, and folky melody fragments played by Sanna Salonen and Minna Koskenlahti (beware of her solo percussion album Toinen from last year!) on what is a showcase of obscure Finnish-Swedish woodwinds like the bass mänkeri, the åspipa and the månmarkapipa, rarely heard on commercial recordings.
This is nocturnal music and by that I mean a dark night with a clear sky – a night for those who don’t fear the dark, but embrace it as an opportunity to see more, see deeper, see further.
MUSIK FÖR SCENER (2022)
Barlast's third studio album
Released on August 5th, 2022