Polkka Love MachineCS (ltd. 177)
total length: 28:57 + 26:07
release date: December 23, 2015
CD-R (ltd. 77)
total length: 55:02
release date: December 23, 2015
"Polkka Love Machine" @ bandcamp
Polkka Love Machine is the title of a performance made by the Finnish theatrical group Sabotanic Garden founded by Pasi Mäkelä and Jussi Saivo. The piece appeared in 2009 and has toured extensively ever since in France, Germany, Austria, USA, Czech, Estonia and Finland. Now it's been turned into a musical project in which Pasi and Jussi explore the depths of ritual eroticism.
What we hear is a set of six laid-back songs with a lo-fi sound but refined old-school approach. Slooow rhythms, hum of amplifiers, bluesy splashes of vibrating guitars, subtle electronic tones and ghostly auditory hallucinations... Retired jazzmen on mushrooms and sedatives? A session of deep seductive self-hypnosis? Or a result of super hot sauna overdose?... In any case, a great collection of Finnish love-making music.
Jussi Saivo is also the member of such projects as Tiermes and Aural Holograms and a chief of his own Saaren Levy label. Pasi Mäkelä aside from performing with Sabotanic Garden plays weird music as PAM and co-operates the micro-label Meteorismo.
With Polkka Love Machine there is something not be the seen and that is the theatre group Sabotanic Garden for whom this work was created in 2009. They toured in France, Germany, Austria, USA, Czech Republic, Estonia and Finland with this, but these days they use the title of that performance work as a band name. Now we know the Zhelezobeton label as a home for lots and lots of music that is generated with electronic means, but while these are also present in the music of Polkka Love Machine, there seems to me to be also quite some guitars at work, hissy amplifiers and a bit of distorted vocals. It has surely all quite a lo-fi feeling to it, which is perhaps also unlike much of the music Zhelezobeton normally releases. It is not easy to put the music down to one thing or another. It has that ritualistik undercurrent, but it might very well these are more used as something tongue in cheek by these musicians. There is quite a bit of charming lo-fi, even pop-like tonal material in this, with shimmering melodies, a desolated bass, guitar feedback and then this demented voice. It could very well be all a bit of a joke, but if so, they are quite serious about the joke, and I enjoyed it a lot. Lovely music.
Long time readers of the aQ list, and we mean looooooong time readers, may remember a Finnish drone outfit called Tiermes (aka Temple Of Tiermes). Tiermes mainman Jussi Saivo did time for a spell in aQ faves Circle, but the music he made in Tiermes was something altogether more grim and sinister, minimal and mysterious. Those Tiermes records remain some of the most stunning dronemusic ever, fusing hushed atmospherics with brooding minimal heaviness.
So we were pretty thrilled to discover that Jussi had a new group, one with the odd moniker Polkka Love Machine. So even though we knew this was the guy behind Tiermes, we had visions of something much more playful and silly (as some Finnish things tend to be), but instead, the sound of Polkka Love Machine is a beautiful, and beautifully bleak extension of the sonic rituals of Tiermes. The sound is more 'rock' only in the sense that it sounds like proper songs, or well, maybe not PROPER songs, but there are actual instruments, the bass is the driving force, the songs rooted to thick, sinewy, low end melodies, in some ways it reminds us of an even more abstract Bohren, and maybe a bit less jazzy, but similarly nocturnal, moody and mysterious. Processed vocals drift in and out, as do fragmented bits of percussion, occasionally fluttery little flights of guitar shimmer flit by, or thick rumbling swells throb ominously before fading into the background. A few moments get almost carnivalesque, but even then, it's creepy, abandoned carnival, the sort nightmares are made of. The rest of the record is more a sort of abstractly tribal drift, barely rhythmic, more sort of softly pulsing, wound up in slithery bass, and ominous overtones, a blackly beautiful, drone-jazz drift, that should definitely appeal to fans of all sounds slow and low, murky and minimal.
The title of the release maybe a bit misleading. Polka music is, most of the time, uptempo joyfull and has a lot of instruments. This release is anything but that. It’s slow, depressing and sometimes concists of only one drone and one sample.
Vocal samples in this release are really low, almost throat-chanting, drones. Combined with the other drones it sounds like a droney album.
The depressing part comes from these drones. It feels like you’re in the middle of a giant puddle of organic material which slowly pulls you under the surface. At the end of the album you’re chocking and anxiously trying to keep your head above the mud.
The sounds are really well thought over as they complement each other very nicely and never leave you wondering about the choises the artist made.
It may sound like this album isn’t really great, but that’s not true at all. It has a certain eerie feeling that can also be comforting when you’re in the right mood. It is just that I wasn’t in a really depressing mood last week when I listened to the album a couple of times. It is also best experienced with a headphone to make it even more immersive.
Long story short: If you’re really depressed, or want to be taken down a giant pool of muddy drones, this album is yours to buy! If you’re not, still buy it and support an awesome label and an awesom artist.