Paavoharju- Joko sinä tulet tänne alas tai minä nousen sinne

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Friday, October 18, 2013

I generally tend to review a lot of music in similar genres, but it’s always nice to take on an album that is a challenging listen. Svart Records has certainly provided me with plenty of experimental material that was metal oriented, but Paavoharju’s Joko sinä tulet tänne alas tai minä nousen sinne is one of the first ones that provided me with something truly different and took a few listens to fully get a feel for. In the past Paavoharju has taken an experimental folk and electronic slant, but this effort find the group heading into completely different territory and taking on a darker tone than before. This is an incredibly dense album that doesn’t reveal all of its layers until you really take the time to dive into each track, but it ultimately feels like a truly unique experience.

One of the biggest changes on this release when compared to Paavoharju’s two other full lengths is the incorporation of hip hop elements. The group has collaborated with rapper Paperi T, who is also from Finland, on the majority of the tracks and this instantly gives the material a fairly different dynamic than before. Hip hop is a genre that I have gained quite a bit of appreciation for over the years and have explored a number of underground and experimental acts when I needed a break from metal, but Joko sinä tulet tänne alas tai minä nousen sinne certainly doesn’t sound like your traditional hip hop album. The reason for this is that the rapping has been placed in a very untraditional environment, as Paavoharju’s soundscapes eschew a lot of the elements you might expect. Sure, there are some electronic oriented and beat driven sections, but they are drenched in grit and noise that transforms them into something completely unrecognizable.

But before exploring the rapped sections and other vocal sections, I think it’s best to dive a little further into the instrumental work as this is part of what makes the material so dense and challenging to explore. While there is a consistently darker tone, it never feels like the soundscapes are repeating themselves and are always branching out into new territory. The press material that came with this album stated the major theme is alienation, and this seems accurate as the instrumentation and sound recordings often have a feel of familiarity but they never sound exactly like anything else I’ve heard before. Paavoharju’s soundscapes seem to be constantly changing shape and evolving, as electronic beats and somber melodies often appear without warning and then fade out almost as suddenly as they had appeared. Rather than reminding me of hip hop or the experimental folk the band channeled in the past, Joko sinä tulet tänne alas tai minä nousen sinne seemed to have more in common with the more avant-garde side of the electronic spectrum, as well as artists that have used field recordings to capture a darker or hidden side of everyday life. It’s one of those combinations that’s a bit hard to describe, but if you’re willing to really dive deeper into each of the twelve songs on this release you’ll discover a recording that has fleeting moments of beauty and serenity mixed into a much harsher and distorted landscape.

In addition to Paperi T’s contributions, there are some spoken word and sung sections from Paavoharju’s main members as well as somber female vocals that have an almost ghostlike quality as they ebb and flow along with the instrumentals. Both of these elements were well integrated and added to the overall atmosphere of the recording, but the rapping is what most listeners will likely pay attention to on their first time through as it is what instantly jumps out. Although I don’t speak any Finnish and therefore have no idea what is actually being discussed throughout these songs, the edginess and grit in Paperi T’s delivery reinforces the darker and desolate feel that Paavoharju consistently captures with their arrangements. It isn’t uncommon to see reviews mention that an artist has been able to transcend the language barrier with their material, but that really seems like the case here as the overall tone of the performance makes it possible to connect with the songs.

Paavoharju has been one of those bands that has consistently pushed boundaries with each of their albums and been impossible to truly categorize into one specific genre, and that continues to be the case here. Joko sinä tulet tänne alas tai minä nousen sinne has elements of hip hop, electronic and ambient soundscapes, and even some folk and metal but it creates something unique using all of these familiar styles. The combination of warm and inviting sounds mixed into a harsher, alien landscape makes for an experience that demands multiple listens but those who give this effort the opportunity to suck them in will find it to be rewarding.

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