Dear friends,

here is a mix of Nielu in it’s entire preliminary phase. All other preview tracks and studies have been deleted. I will leave only the mix online as I retire into virtual silence to finalize the album. Nielu will be released through Pale Noir December this year, both in digipack and digital form. More news to come later on.

Manifesting Nielu has been such an important journey for me that I would like to reflect upon it and how everything came to be. It’s quite a long story but I hope it’s worth your while.

It has been almost two years since I held the first recording session for this album. I spent a weekend alone in my friend’s demented grandmother’s apartment recording her old decrepit and very detuned piano through various pedals and hardware. I was asked by Pale Noir to create a release for them, and it was then I had the first flashes of the vision that would become Nielu.

At first i thought the process of composing the album would be quite straightforward. I would just record the piano, mix the sounds a bit and that would be it. A minimalistic session vibe to pause with. Short pieces of dusty longing and some strange ideas about living to die.
Little did I know what life had in store for me and how that would affect my musical path.

Following incidents and hardship in my personal life my tangled mind started showing the same kind of distortion and symptoms that forced me to create my debut EP, Korpinkorva (https://soundcloud.com/utu-lautturi/utu-lautturi-korpinkorva). As was the case back then, also now I found refuge and solace in music. It was best therapy to sit amongst wonders of nature and record them, sing with and to them, finally morphing them as pieces of audio art releasing my inner turmoil. Never before had I felt so strongly about the words “transforming flesh into sound”. The title Nielu means throat or pharynx, and I felt it was a great representation of the feeling I had of once again falling into an abyss, not of spirit but of flesh. Of not being able to stop feeding my dreams and everything good and pure in my life to a monstrous maw, devouring all that is worth living for.

So the process of Nielu expanded, folded on itself and took new forms daily. Simple visions became twisted layers of conflicting elements, pictures pure broke into ravaged nightmares. Throughout the winter and spring of 2013 I recorded hours worth of sounds, instruments, vocals and did extensive research into software sound manipulation, but all the time felt I couldn’t reach a coherent vision of what Nielu could truly be. I hadn’t the vaguest idea how I would compose all the different shards and facets, all screaming to manifest, into one whole.

Then, in the summer of 2013 I spent a week on a retreat in the foothills of the French Alps. In a stone walled ascetic lamb shed turned into human accommodation, opening into a view of a rugged mountain face and my surroundings completely resonating in tune with my inner space, I achieved a strong sense of what I needed to do. It would take a lot more time and work than my previous vision but I believe so it often is with uncompromising manifestations. I had taken a laptop and recording gear with me so I spent most of the retreat wandering the mountains, recording more sounds and with headphones on arranging all of my recordings into compositional frameworks.

From there on I have worked with Nielu. Sometimes just for a minute or two, sometimes for hours upon hours, days after days. Experimenting, creating, destroying, mostly feeling inadequate and unfitting for such an endeavor, with only few glints of success here and there. I feel like a complete beginner in this form of art, but I’m determined to evolve. In any case, for the past year Nielu has been a focal point in one way or the other. I’ve used it as a tool of self-reflection and realization, as a bottomless pit to pour both my mind’s tar and glitter in, and as a companion in some of the most difficult times in my life. It has been a grand experience indeed. I’m eternally grateful to Nix of Pale Noir for her patience and support in allowing my artistic vision to bloom in it’s own time and not rushing the release. Thank you.

Now the process in nearing it’s end. The framework is strong, the compositions in order. All doubt about what I should do, what would be proper or enjoyable by others has gone. Only a passion for the purest self-expression is left. I will never achieve the kind of perfection I’m aiming for but that’s the beauty of it. I am not perfect, far far from it. I am a wretched withering sack of water, meat and bone, prone to mental disturbances. So that is what also my music must sound like.

Saatto (escort), the last track of Nielu is an epitome of exactly that. It was the last thing I played when recording the aforementioned piano. It was a crispy day, rejoicing a season’s passing, just like today. The old keys were lovingly loose under my fingers, the detuned sound so reflective of my life. There was a strong sense of stepping into a new era, a profound feeling of blasting away the shreds of shackles binding me to a limited view and expression on the vast stage of the theater of life. I was one with the piano and the distortion and echo and noise pedals with their magical knobs. They were there to escort me into and through a sort of rebirth. Maybe Nielu will escort you into a new place or space as well.

So. That is the story of Nielu in a nutshell, and of it’s ending track, Saatto. All the pieces of Nielu have stories, and some of them have been told here in Nielu’s blog. Feel welcome to scroll down and check them out.

But for now, with a heart full of wonder and gratitude I bid you fare well.

Pelkkää pihkaa / Only Sap

It’s been a while since updating this blog. There have been intense issues and a struggle to overcome almost unbearably painful tragedies in my personal life. These kinds of things affect the creative process, of course. However in this case, after making it through the darkest night of the soul, I would call the effect extremely beneficial. At least it has changed the way I approach Nielu.

All the time I’ve wished to create something pure, something true and honest, depicting the inner life of mine as accurately as possible. To certain extents I feel I’ve succeeded. But now I see I’ve also unconsciously created a huge amount of blockage in creative channels, brewing stagnant juices - resulting in not only pure self-reflection but also comparing my work to others. I’ve let outside influences carve some of the routes I would take in the process of creating this album. And that is something I do not intend to foster.

So I’ve let go of all goals and/or aims artistically. I will allow anything and everything pure, self-reflective and intuitively resonating to take form - but only that. This means more time, more experiments and possibly less approachable results. But it will be something of Power and Purity. Something that, at least in my life, will stand the test of time and serve as a honorable testament.

Pelkkää pihkaa is the first composition resulting from my new approach. The elements of Nielu are all there - the old woman’s detuned piano, field recordings of rain and sounds of scratching moss and stone. There is violin played by my good friend Valo, and some recorded harmonium. Of course I’ve added some sound design as well, ie. picking deep frequencies from some blows on the piano and creating the droney background after the first drop. The high pitched psychedelic swirling is the result of routing the piano through some fx pedals and some post-production in Ableton.

As to most of the tracks, I will add vocals and possibly some deep organic beat work, but these versions will only be available on the album - something to look forward to! I hope you can relate with this new approach, and I’m deeply grateful for all the wonderful comments, sharing and support throughout the process.

Stay tuned, and stay creative!

-Utu

It is time to preview the first whole track from Nielu. This is called Tea From Decomposing Leaves. There will be added vocals and a bit of an organic rhythm pattern to the finished product. But apart from those and a final mix and mastering, this is something that’s pretty well brewed, so to speak.

Again, the focal point of the track is the same decrepit old woman’s piano introduced earlier. I wanted to play a cavernous few chords and just keep them going in an attempt of depicting solitude and a the sort of mundane loop going on in a depressed mind. When life and motion have no meaning the colors in life are faded and merge as a bland mass, like decomposing leaves. This is where I wanted to head with the piano.

But then, nothing stays the same. Time changes everything - even the nature of depression. That’s what inspired me while composing the background noise which is actually quite a varied cocktail. There are various guitar tracks recorded in different places with different equipment. There’s some warped mundane household noise. And a small piece of nature sounds recorded with my extremely poor old school cellphone mic (mainly heard in the beginning with a pad part morphed from the recording). The silent scratches and textures are the result of morphing the original piano track, routed through a few distortion and echo pedals.

I wanted to tie all the different facets with something, so during my last summer’s stay at a retreat in the incredible mountains of Southern France, I recorded two long sessions on a Korg Monotron, a sub track and a rising high pitched screech. I wanted them to reflect how often depression gathers silent momentum, little by little turning into anxiety and possibly worse, active mental outbreaks. And so in the end the composition opens up to an ill-pitched wail, also played on a Monotron, and then falls again. 

The artwork for this track is a bit off-placed and actually depicts more the inner turmoil messing my mind at the moment, than the actual vibes when composing the brew. All in all, hopefully Tea From Decomposing Leaves offers you some kind of meditative yet churning mindset.

I wish you all the most powerful change of year. Stay creative!

-Utu

Nielu is proceeding like swallowing pins. Tearing, shredding, inch by inch, scale by scale transforming fear into focus, anxiety into acceptance. As any feat of metamorphosis, it is both frustrating and rewarding. I’ve been engulfed in the process of examining the possibilities of sound as a tool for shifting awareness. I really want to compose every sound on this album dripping with intent, yet flowing with ease.


As an example of these experiments I’d like to share a study into the (he)art of Drone ambient. It’s an extremely deceptive genre in seeming to be something anybody can put together quite easily, yet when actually attempting to pull it off…well, I certainly managed to pull off something - that is, extraordinary amounts of hair. I feel immense respect for the masters of this genre. Anyway, here’s my shot at some ritual drone work. This track also serves as a testing ground for some new plug-ins and automation routes.

Headphones are, once again, essential in order to get the true “picture”. Hope you find a focused silent space to trip with me.

Thank you for all the support.

Stay creative!

Utu

One of the main themes in Nielu is transformation. Transformation of thought processes, of emotional energy and mindset. Through confronting darkness and chaos by resting in them, making them allies, we can harness the power of focus, which in turn can be directed at improving our lives in various ways. That is, in essence, what Meren nylkemä (Skinned By The Sea) is about.

I recorded the sounds in Nice, France. I was very excited about the way the waves pushed and dragged smooth pebbles on the beach with their ebb and flow. The sound was pure magic, and one of the most comforting, yet exciting, I’ve heard in my whole life. However, as I sat there with my (very lo-fi) recording gear early in the morning, immersed in the ocean’s song, I also felt a very destructive force rising with the waves. It is so mind-blowing to think about each of the pebbles geological history and how we as humans compare with it. Our fleshy sacks of water and bone will soon be gone, yet the sea will undoubtedly continue it’s slow smoothing of Nice’s shores for aeons to come.

With this in mind I decided to try some extreme sound manipulation of the recordings. All you here in this piece is derived from the sounds of the sea. There is no slicing or rearranging of sounds other than layering six different parts of the long original recording, and reversing two of them.

For the destruction and warping of the sound I used both hardware and software eq, compression, saturation, some sound exciters and a bit of reverb towards the end of the track. With these tools I painstakingly automated all six layers of sound, which I then bounced as groups for some fine tuning. There is no real mastering done so it’s not quite as massive as it will be, if I decide to take it aboard Nielu. Although the track is mixed for speakers, the depths can definitely be best experienced through a pair of good headphones.

Hope you enjoy this one, as it is a very personal track for me and quite the mirror into my soul.

Stay creative,

Utu

The key element in the first passage of Nielu is a decrepit and rusty piano. It was recorded at the home of an old woman who had moved to a nearby retirement home due to her increasing dementia. 

Her grandson was housekeeping at the time and kindly gave me a weekend’s access to record stuff. The piano was absolutely wonderfully detuned. In addition to recording the sound itself I ran it through multiple fx pedals in order to have vast soundscapes to experiment with.

Somehow staying there surrounded by the old woman’s furniture and very granny-like paintings conjured in me some ghostly feelings of what must’ve been lonely and frightening years for the old lady before moving out. I feel it reflected on how I approached the piano. Chords of solitude, even depression took hold.

The wild violin is performed and recorded by my good friend Valo Lankinen, a music producer from Helsinki. He simply violated his instrument on top of the piano recordings. Much thanks and respect that way. I feel the violin gives a great edge of insanity to the otherwise smooth and solemn atmosphere.

Hope you enjoyed this peek. Many more to come so stay tuned. And stay creative.

-Utu