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Tomutonttu - Hylyt

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Artist: Tomutonttu

Album: Hylyt

Label: Dekorder

Review date: Oct. 19, 2012

A somewhat baffling accumulation of sonic debris, Hylyt is the latest emanation from Finland’s Jan Anderzen, a member of similarly-abstract outfits Avarus and Kemialliset Ystävät. Presented as two untitled 20-minute pieces, making the trek through the proceedings is akin to crawling through a narrow tunnel: at first it’s sort of fun, but after a while you’re sort of ready to reach the other end. Of course, if you’re claustrophobic then it won’t be enjoyable from the start.

From time to time Anderzen provides a foothold, often a percolating synthesizer arpeggio, and those moments help give some much-needed focus and a sense of progress. Things here feel crowded, but it’s more the incessant movement than actual density that makes it feel that way. The real issue is the disjointedness — it feels as though the sounds burbling, bouncing and squelching their way past don’t really mean anything. There’s no sense of a master plan, so it’s simply a collection of individually interesting sounds which, brought together here, don’t add up to anything greater.

For those familiar with Kemialliset Ystävät, the general philosophy of Tomutonttu won’t be too big a surprise, as there’s a similar playfulness and aesthetic at play. Here, though, there’s a more artificial, perhaps synthetic, approach. Where Kemialliset Ystävät seems aimed at an organic, maybe even pastoral, abstraction, Tomutonttu feels more alien and less analog, with harder edges and a sharper sound. Which isn’t to say this is difficult listening, any more than, say, Nurse With Wound is — it’s difficult if you’re looking for "normal" music, but I expect that those reading this won’t necessarily be too put off by echoing, unclear voices, scraping spring-like strings, warbling synths, and buzzing electronics layered like a broadcast from the future that’s been accidentally scrambled in the transmission.

As these tracks play, it’s easy enough to focus on a sound here and there and find something charming, and intriguing. But a few minutes later you’ll latch onto another, then another, and soon you realize that while they’re each individually interesting, you haven’t really gone anywhere.

By Mason Jones

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