Playlist by Antti Klemi
Time flies. I made my first playlist for Todestrieb back in 2009. It was a busy year for CIRCLE OF OUROBORUS: eight (!) releases, for example two full-lengths - Tree of Knowledge and Islands -, different kinds of musical experiments (I still cherish the ambient atmosphere of "Your Air Becomes My Water" on IPSOS), ideas spinning here and there... Now those times seem to be very distant, and our pace has slowed down (but far from stopping, I can assure!). However, something else has awakened. I have found music again, in a form of electronic, industrial tunes, usually mixed with (black) metal. I'm talking about ABSOLUTE KEY, my solo work, which has been active for three years now, so it was just natural to gather this second playlist around ABSOLUTE KEY and its influences too.
Being a noise / industrial artist, I haven't listened to actual noise etc. so much. I know the usual suspects and all kind of weird and avant-garde music appeals to me, but otherwise I have approached this genre from an outsider's view. I guess this has been both a curse and a blessing. Maybe I have done many things in a wrong or at least hard way, and maybe I haven't understood all the possibilities that this genre has to offer. On the other hand, I feel that I have kept my approach fresh and unique, at least in some parts.
It's hard for me to get excited only by the sound itself, I need something concrete. It's not just a snapshot of a feeling - I want to tell the whole story. Therefore, I usually build my songs in a form of a dramatic vault, as a self-conscious wave if that makes any sense. And from the start I have wanted to keep black metal in the picture, so the playlist below isn't about just synths and beats. Especially now in my newest creations there are for example real drums and guitars present, to break the mechanic atmosphere. A rusty cyborg magician, that is maybe the homunculus I want to create.
So I hope this playlist opens some doors to my doings, be it ABSOLUTE KEY, ABSAVA (my collaboration with Hail Conjurer) or VOID OF AUTUMN, a pure black metal band of mine. And as I said in my previous playlist, this list can change from day to day - as snakes shed their skin, also keys can open always different doors.
Framtiden Är Ett Svävande Skepp, Förankrat I Forntiden 1972
Although psychedelic Swedish rock music from the 70ies can be quite far from my doings in theory, I must say that all these long flowing jams of TRÄD, GRÄS OCH STENAR, BABY GRANDMOTHERS and the like have made a big impact on me. ÄLGARNAS TRÄDGÅRD is a different kind of a wizard though: strongly rooted in Swedish mysticism, this band is wandering somewhere between experimentations, folk, obscure landscapes and hazy hard rock. Bells, flutes, violins, spacey riffs, all filtered through pine forests and underworld experiences. A long lost grandfathers of ARCKANUM and WULKANAZ? Heh, now I'm exaggerating a bit, but if you have courage, I recommend checking this band's debut out.
An old ghost from the past... Never-Ending Black Torrent of Death stroke like a poisoned, rusty spear 15 years ago and when I dug this EP from my dusty shelves some time ago, I noticed that it hasn't lost its charm a bit - on the contrary, I understood that the band's murky lo-fi black metal must have influenced ABSOLUTE KEY's music somehow subconsciously. This album glows in eerie lights, full of anguish and hate, songs twisting and turning like an insect. The result is somehow unfinished, unpolished and sketch-like, but that just makes the music more impressive. An impulsive burst of pure blackness, and I just love those buzzing guitars and shabby drums. HATEFUL ABANDON went to totally new directions with their later albums - and I worship those too - but Never-Ending Black Torrent of Death has a special place in my heart.
Valo tihkuu kaiken läpi
Yhä hämärää 2005
I guess there won't be a playlist or an interview without me mentioning PAAVOHARJU. These glorious hobos of lo-fi electro folk or how you want to put it ("Bollywood music, church hymns, beautiful pop tunes and ambient esoteric noises", says Discogs!) stepped to the limelight in the beginning of the millennium, released two full-lengths and disappeared - to come back in 2013 with a murky lo-fi electro / rap album! However, I chose the debut for this playlist - its youthful essence of heavenly aspects and abandoned house aesthetics is just brilliant. Songs come and go, different vocalists lend their voice for these little tunes, sometimes everything is clear like a celestial vision from the heavens, sometimes everything scatters into the dirt... It's so hard to describe what this album is all about and what makes it so charming. A true exemplar for ABSOLUTE KEY's mellower side.
Ilkka Vekka of HAARE mentioned that ABSOLUTE KEY's first demo tape was somewhere between RIDE FOR REVENGE and electro-period BEHERIT, and who am I to argue with this wise man? I wanted to choose this classic album instead of Holocausto's later works however, because Drawing down the Moon has already so much experimental and daring elements. Of course there are ambient songs like "Nuclear Girl" and "Summerlands" mixing the soup, but also these "pure" black metal songs possess something extraordinary. Besides their primitive excellence, the rhythms are so goddamn catchy and that echoing wall of buzz is something you want to drown in with a smile on your face. Although my music might be closer to H418ov21.C and Electric Doom Synthesis, Drawing down the Moon is still always in my mind when I am working with my beats and screeches.
Although Jef Whitehead's first creation - LURKER OF CHALICE's eponymous debut album from 2005 - is a modern classic, I wanted to give some credit to this other beast too. These are just demo tracks from the band's early years, but I like how the black metal elements are still quite absent and the focus is on waving guitars and massive world-eating ambience. Actually there is one ABSOLUTE KEY album in the making, which has some similar tones and shades as in Tellurian Slaked Furnace. Mellow, lingering, spectral.
Polulta eksyneet / Riite
Löylystä ja luonnosta 2019
This mysterious Finnish duo has released a few tapes so far, but the band has made a strong impact on me from the start. Especially METSÄKIRKKO shines on stage, when bells, drums, horns, loops, samples and other organic elements grow to the massive heights in a shamanic, ritualistic way.
In their records METSÄKIRKKO is a more structured group going through folky mud jams, ambient tracks, fractured piano tunes and what else. I really like their rural, hands-into-dirt way of doing things, and this aspect has lured its way into ABSOLUTE KEY's world too. Although I started with a very electric basis, I want to add more and more "real" sounds to the songs, be it electric guitars, field recordings, weird instruments or something else. And you should check out Brownhill Mafia too, a label run by METSÄKIRKKO guys - they have lots of interesting underground artists in their roster like SAMULI NÄSI, NUORI VERI and so on.
Then something old... TANGERINE DREAM has been my first crush what comes to ambient (a too narrow term in this case I must admit), and although I like their previous albums too, Phaedra appeals to me most. The gentle leadings from one theme to another, natural waves rising over each other, then fading again, the rhythmic compositions... I always yearn for some rhythmic, because plain noise isn't my thing, and same goes with ambient music too. Although there is a time and place for formless humming too, I want a backbone, a red chord, something concrete to open ways. In general I start from a pulse or a rhythm quite often when making music - riffs, melodies and other layers comes second. That's why Phaedra is a so important album for me: although the music is like relaxed swimming of astral whales, the band's kraut roots are still shining in the ocean floor.
Holy Testament 1 2011
More beautiful rhythms. SINK is a band full of visionaries and professionals, who can lead their ship in whatever direction they want, be it black metal, industrial compositions, drone or something else. Actually I am wearing their shirt on right now, and it says "Infinite Drone Ritual. Throbbing Sonic Womb. Black Wall of Sound." so it's obvious that we are talking about a Special Band right now. This band can utilize their vast knowledge of music, influences and know-how without being too professional or clinical. On the contrary, they have that specific artisan feeling in their songs, every note and sound is somehow hand-made. I could have chosen some other record from them too (for example Ark of Contempt and Anger (2016) shows beautifully the band's softer side), but Holy Testament 1 gets my vote this time: everything is in balance but still just a step away from the edge.
No list without CURRENT 93 either. Earlier I was more interested in David Tibet's neofolk side, but after delving into my own electronic experimentations, also these older albums have revealed themselves in a totally different way. Imperium is dancing on a line between electronic and organic, mixing old and new, and songs like "Locust" have taught me a thing or two how to build a song a layer after a layer. Beautiful but also somehow terrifying work.
Psalm 69 was maybe the closest to industrial music that a young Klemi could experience in the middle of the nineties. I won't say that the seeds of ABSOLUTE KEY were sewn already back then, but as with CURRENT 93, also this album has shown new sides now. Back then the metal songs were the thing, but now I appreciate songs like "Scarecrow" and the splendid closing duo "Corrosion" / "Grace" more. Of course we are still talking about basic mainstream stuff, but maybe the years have cast this album and memories in gold and therefore I truly enjoy these screechy and screwed tunes.