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Horte – Maa Antaa Yön Vaientaa (Pelagic Records)

I am usually drawn into music in one of two ways. It either reminds me of something I already know or have felt, or it shows me something entirely new to learn. Finnish post-rock band Horte unexpectedly tick both boxes on their latest release Maa Antaa Yön Vaientaa (Let The Earth Be Silenced By Night), a completely absorbing trip through shoegaze, metal, dream pop and other-worldly soundscapes.

Language difference can sometimes be a bit of barrier in music, but it is also a bridge to new depths of understanding. Sigur Rós, Pinkshinyultrablast or even Cocteau Twins would lose something fundamental to their appeal in translation and Horte are no different.  Riikka’s esoteric vocal, with its hypnotic syllabic precision and phrasing, lends each melody a sense of ritual and ancient knowledge, the perfect foil to the preternatural distorted swirl that surrounds it.

Most of the album was recorded at home or at Tonehaven Studio in Tampere, Finland, and while both Juho Vanhanen (Oranssi Pazuzu) and Saku Tamminen (Sink, Dark Buddha Rising) were involved in production and mixing, it has only subtle flashes of the hardcore metal edge you usually associate with Finnish music. Horte take a different artistic route to recreate their seamy, primordial world. Opener ‘Pelko Karistaa Järjen’ (Fear Destroys Reason) shows the band’s use of manipulated field recordings as a framework for their sound, transforming natural woodland into the bestial cries from an unseen spirit world. Dissected by heavy bass riffs and light percussive flourishes, the song’s eerie synth pads fade into a drone, setting up the segue into ‘Ilman Nurkka’ (‘Without Corner’), a dreamier yet mechanical beat-driven adventure, providing a confident emotional counterpoint to the primal fears that seep from the opening track. The same writing process is prominent on ‘Kilpemme’ (‘We Shield’). A guitar loop sidles into view while synth keys push through layers of ferny textures to create an unsettling backdrop to Riikka’s rising incantations.

Further in, ‘Valoa On Liikaa’ (‘There Is Too Much Light’) briefly takes us on a detour through more minimalist territory. Meandering synths slowly weave a filigree cocoon around the vocals, encasing their glow with sinewy, fibrous samples. Next, there is a momentary pause before Horte launch into the two longest, most determined offerings on Maa Antaa Yön Vaientaa.  First, ‘Kun Joki Haihtuu’ (When the River Evaporates) is an unhurried behemoth of a song, densely packed with layers of treated vocals, industrial percussion and rattling, deep distorted bass. It follows its own, seemingly random path without ever turning back, as rushes of fuzz and swarf-like guitars crash over in its wake. Next, album highlight ‘Väisty Tieltä’ (Give Way), streaming below, takes a cue from early My Bloody Valentine with its gorgeously confusing time signature held together by a singular fuzz-bass/organ riff.  Trembling waves of shoegaze guitar move aside momentarily for Riikka’s dark angelic tones, creating a reverberating vacuum before the bass line drops in once more. Pure bliss for just over seven minutes.

Rounding off with an alternative version of a song from their 2017 self-titled album, ‘Konttaa, Ne Konttaa II’ sounds here like a closing prayer rendered in wax cylinder, its striations warped and scratched with wear. This age-worn reflection of the original hints that the band has come a long way in their time since, or “Nyt jotain vahvempaa / Kohti jotain vanhempaa” (“Now something stronger / Towards something older”). Ultimately, Horte have something quite special in Maa Antaa Yön Vaientaa; an album that ignores the arbitrary boundaries of language, egos, creative processes and genre norms, and just lets the music speak for itself. Don’t let its ‘niche appeal’ fool you, this is the real deal.       

 

‘Maa Antaa Yön Vaientaa’ is out 27th August via Pelagic Records.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.