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

Saattohoito
Laihaksi kuluu aika
Nahkeita lakanoita ei vaihda enää kukaan
Ainoa todistaja 
On ikkunan takana
∞
Hospice
Time wears thin
Sticky sheets are no longer replaced
The only witness
Is behind a window

Saattohoito

Laihaksi kuluu aika

Nahkeita lakanoita ei vaihda enää kukaan

Ainoa todistaja 

On ikkunan takana

Hospice

Time wears thin

Sticky sheets are no longer replaced

The only witness

Is behind a window