Paavoharju - Laulu Laakson Kukista

For the better part of the past 15 months I’ve done quite a bit of my music listening late at night with a pair of headphones - a direct result of sharing a living space with a girl. Not that she doesn’t dig my music, but our place isn’t conducive to listening to Portishead and watching Privileged at the same time. Plus she goes to bed earlier than me, so there's a few good excuses to keep it down.

As a result I’ve gotten into the routine of winding down the evening with something more nuanced, ethereal, or just plain ambient. Music that fits that late night, solitary mood that dark apartments and headphones go with. Earlier this year the slot was filled with Beach House’s Devotion (shoot, something else I overlooked at list time), and For Emma, Forever Ago. Over the summer it was often older gems like Dummy, Yo La Tengo’s Painful, and Boards of Canada’s Music Has The Right To Children. As the year was winding down I started going to Portishead’s Third on an almost daily basis, then Grouper’s Dragging A Dead Deer Up A Hill more recently.

The past few nights though my late night listening has been Paavoharju, and the strange, beautiful sounds of their latest, Laulu Laakson Kukista. You may have seen the name Paavoharju, not to mention that arresting artwork, at various other places. Coke Machine Glow had it in their Top 10 of the year recently, as did a handful of the music blogs I trust most. I picked it up over at emusic the other day, and it’s turning quickly into one of the better investments I’ve made over there.

Laulu Laakson Kukista mixes folk influences with ambient sounds, vinyl scratches, electronica, and field recordings/found sounds to create a wholly unique sonic environment. Add to that the alluring female vocals (all in their native Finnish) and you’ve got a record that sounds dense, eerie, and inviting. This isn’t music for everyone, but open-minded folks looking for something unlike much they’ve heard before will almost certainly get swept up into this one. Here’s a sample, but Laulu Laakson Kukista is an album best experienced in its entirety.

MP3 :: Kevätrumpu
Stream :: Uskallan
Stream :: Kirkonväki
(from Laulu Laakson Kukista. Buy here)

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