As yesterday’s playlist indicated, the Avey Tare solo album has arrived, and I’ll do my best to write something about it in the next day or two. In the meantime, though, those of you attracted to the wilder shores of the Animal Collective might be interested in this one, the latest effort by a shadowy but productive band from Finland called Kemialliset Ystävät (“Chemical Friends”, I am informed).
Kemialliset Ystävät, if you’ve never come across them before, are part of a pretty lively Finnish psych scene, which I always mean to dig into in earnest. I have one or two Avarus and Kiila albums, but the vast expanses of Kemialliset’s discography – 40-odd strong, I believe – remain largely beyond me, unfortunately: maybe one of you could give us some clues as to where to start properly?
Anyhow, the beautifully-packaged “Ullakkopalo” is great, being a crotchety forest jam, all rustle and sprung rattle, which harbours some of the same kindergarten freakout sensibilities of the Animal Collective’s earlier work, albeit pushed much, much further out. Like AC, there’s a certain whimsical infantilism here that might jar with some listeners. But the way Kemialliset Ystävät’s hypnotic little melodies (“Ystävälliset Miekat” being a great case in point) emerge from the improvised thicket, and the way everything is played, notwithstanding the density, with such brightness and clarity, is really genuinely charming.
Other things that come to mind when listening to the frictional chaos of “Ullakkopalo” are Kraut commune jams like Amon Duul, plus some of the most untethered outriders of the free folk scene, notably Matt Valentine and co’s Tower Recordings, whose impressionistic, collagist way of grafting disparate snippets of sound together is a decent analogue. Much of Kemialliset Ystävät’s pipes, strums, squeaks and glitches sounds like it was processed through a laptop, while retaining its organic vibes.
As the album goes on, though, some skinny but intense fuzz guitar soloing cuts a swathe through the found-sound rituals. On “Maksaruohoja” or “Mestari Ei Väsy”, to take two, the thought occurs that there are some similarities to the playful, uncanny tapestry of last year’s Broadcast And The Focus Group album – if, that is, the collective had expanded to include guest spots from Ben Chasny.