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Hotguitars with Santtu Puukka - Hierarkia

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Artist: Hotguitars with Santtu Puukka

Album: Hierarkia

Label: Karkia Mistika

Review date: Mar. 5, 2006

Neither sound engineer/guitarist Teemu Korpipää nor guitarist Jyrki Laiho maintains a high profile within the mainstream of Finnish music, but dig into the underground, read the fine print of random liner notes and their names seem to appear everywhere. Laiho has performed with Circle, Ektroverde, Kuusumun profeetta and a raft of other Pori-based groups. Korpipää meanwhile, has manned the controls for dozens of groups, popular and unpopular, mainstream and experimental. Hotguitars is their musical id unchained and unleashed on an unsuspecting public.

On their previous handful of CD-Rs, EPs, and 7”s, the tandem focused their energies on more traditional guitar mangling – feedback, volume and noise their chosen weapons. Hierakia shows them brandishing an expanded arsenal. Their first long-player is neural nausea, a bonfire of arthritic electro-beats, furnace-heated glitch, horrorshow ambience, ruthless filtering and tweaking, noise-mongering, and guitar skronk. However, the whole dense, hyper-detailed mess is not the main attraction – it’s bound, gagged and shoved into the corner of the mix, all to make room for the poetical rants of Santtu Puukka.

Reading from Nuorallatanssia, his first book of poetry, Puukka delivers a paranoid and anxious stream of images that targets pretension, uptightness, environmental degradation, human relationships and societal norms. The ingredients are vintage punk, but the execution evinces a discipline that sets it apart. These words don't express political manifestos or nihilistic diatribes; they represent an individual fighting overwhelming sensory input with the one thing each of us owns: language. His articulation is lethal – the double consonants of Finnish become tossed spears, vowels overflow with poisonous invective – and his pacing is calculated for maximum damage. Questions are followed by silence that demand an answer, phrases are waved menacingly before their conclusion is thrust home. His tone of voice, at all times full of urgency and emergency, mutates into a chorus of personas.

Korpipää and Laiho also rein in their convulsions, letting their sounds skitter across some desolate cerebral plane. There is no linear development to Korpipää’s digital molding of static, errant bass throbs and patches of squall. He is Puukka’s angst made sonic. Laiho, meanwhile, cuts his six-string assault with a heady awareness of why so many love the guitar in the first place: the riff. His sculptured slashing and burning always displays a headstrong logic, even at its most incendiary.

Hierarkia creates the effect that this dialogue of word and sound is raging inside the head of some imaginary individual, one formed where the contributions of Korpipää, Laiho and Puukka meet. It is this inward turned gaze that transforms what could have been yet another tiring and bludgeoning indictment of society’s ills into an exhilarating and unsettling passion play of one wading their way through the 21st century jungle.

By Matthew Wuethrich

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