Various Artists – Terässinfonia Vol. 1 / Terässinfonia Vol.2 CD Freak Animal Records 2020
Freak Animal Records have always been a huge supporter of new and up and coming projects in the noise-industrial-experimental underground, no matter how obscure. These two collated volumes are then noted to have a more specific function: that being to specifically focus on current activities with the Finnish underground as evidenced by the tagline of: ‘The sound of Finnish experimental noise. Terässinfonia : Steel Symphony’.
Noting the role of a good compilation is to showcase projects you may have not come across before, on that front I only recognise a handful of project names across the 24 contributions here, which includes (in order of appearance): Umpio, Kitu, Tyhjä Pää, Hazarda Bruo Sonsistemo, Atrophist, Unclean, Edge Of Decay, H.Ö.H, Jazzhand, Rotat,Junkyard Shaman, Contortus, Metsäkirkko, Ihmisen Jälkeen, Nuori Veri, Parempi Ratkaisu, Amek Maj, Toteslaut, Maskhead, Vitun Siat, YANA, Circle Of Shit, Ahola & Silander, Electric Hobo, Tyhjiø. However, as there are then far too many contributions spanning the two discs to focus on individually, some of the notable highlights of those projects whom I am not overly familiar with include:
- Kitu – Edeema: features a strong contribution of hollowed-out industrial rumble and soot-infused ‘abandoned factory’ ambience.
- Hazarda Bruo Sonsistemo – Loishäätö: contains upfront ‘detailed’ sounds sitting over a rising tide of thickly atmospheric distortion.
- Atrophist – Mutation Cycles: offers a touch of sonic respite on the first disc, with a droning composition that edges ever so closely towards dark ambience.
- H.Ö.H – Mittausteknologian Kehittyessä: aims for more experimental expression with a short track of wonky sparse cutup sounds and tape loop material.
- Jazzhand – Gavia Arctica: stands apart given its main focus on natural based field recording, while a minimal underpinning drone and vocal and relegated to being low wihin the mix.
- Junkyard Sharman – Harha: opting for an enveloping ritual ambient drone-work, the compositions subtle scrap metal elements sitting off within the background.
- Nuori Veri – Jatkumon Ahjo: ranges from minimalist ‘micro-tonal’ elements, which are blended with sampled choral vocals for emotive effect.
- Parempi Ratkaisu – Ali-ihmisten Kärsimys: actually reminds quite strongly of Grunt’s sound, given its focus here on raw noise which has been roughly hewn into intertwining scrap metal loops.
- Toteslaut – Strike the Master Sword: strongly impresses with a track of raw and overblow power electronics, complete with rough vocal proclamations.
- Yana – Tuntematon: shifts tactic to charts a minimalist soundscape of sparse tones and a variety of scrabbling sonics.
- Ahola & Silander – Koitos: is notable with its thick and warm, yet hollow tonal quality to its clinical experimental drone-work.
- Tyhjiø – Aurinko: being a raw and spitting noise-industrial track with significant sonic heft thanks to its massive production sound.
Despite not all tracks getting an individual mention above, there is a lot to like and discover across the 80 minutes of material spanning two separate CDs. But it is also worthwhile noting that a number the more established names like Umpio, Unclean, Edge of Decay, Rotat, Contortus, Maskhead, Circle of Shit function to represent the harsh noise, scrap metal industrial, and ripping power electronics sounds of the Finnish underground. The striking collages of the cover artwork provide a suitably strong visual presentation and are further pressed as four-panel digipacks. Solid compilation collections all round.