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The Anaksimandros - River of Finland

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Artist: The Anaksimandros

Album: River of Finland

Label: Eclipse

Review date: Aug. 16, 2004

Don't waste your time searching for the River of Finland on any map - it doesn't exist, further evidence that The Anaksimandros take very few things seriously. They stick their collective tongue at musical conventions, save one – making sounds simultaneously. They generate a mesmerizing amount of clamor, plangent counterpoint, fanatical rhythmic pulse and frayed drones that takes to heart the King’s advice to Alice: "Begin at the beginning…and go on till you come to an end; then stop."

The Anaksimandros and their compatriot collective, Kemialliset Ystävät share members and aesthetics, but they develop from different starting points. KY's music is an intricate patchwork of studio overdubs; The Anaksimandros albums are unadulterated records of what happened. Their improvisations are dominated by relentlessly strummed instruments - sometimes plucked, sometimes scraped - with the occasional snare drum, bells, gongs, synth and human moaning. Each part alone would sound silly, but The Anaksimandros don't believe in solos. Together, the wayward lines form an engaging, extroverted whole.

This Eclipse record is the group’s second LP, and fifth release overall. It actually features track titles and fades in and out between pieces, but they serve little purpose other aside from the occult entertainment (titles like "Lappi Fast Witch" and "The Bones Tell Me Nothing" practically beg for a mystic agenda). They simply let the tape roll, start playing, then push stop. River of Finland is ultimately snippets from their massive archive, peepholes into a private ritual. A piece like "Lappi Fast Witch" puts time on hold as it ties down a drone on the verge of extinction.

Using a tape recorder with a single microphone, seemingly positioned at random, they create distorted aural perspectives. At times, one can almost hear how the instruments have been positioned in the room, like on "Wolf Visitors," where a bass drum booms leadenly from the background while a buzzing drone, noodling synth and catatonic mewling flutter closer to the mic. At other times, such as on "The Bones Tell Me Nothing" a shrill wall of guitars, bells and voice fight to escape the speaker.

By Matthew Wuethrich

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