Here it is, number 68 on the Quietus’ Best Albums Of The Year So Far list! It’s Finland’s very own Oranssi Pazuza, with their fourth album, Värähtelijä!
A lot of the reviews of this record mention black metal at some point, which alongside all those umlauts and the silly band name (“Orange Demon”) might well be enough to put off cautious listeners. Relax, I am here to reassure you all. There is nary a blastbeat to be heard, and not much wild tremolo. Granted, the vocals are a bit growly, but compared to the ferociously dense attack of a Mayhem or a Darkthrone this is a record full of space and room to breathe. Nothing to frighten the horses, in other words, and it’s certainly not as aggressive or alienating as (minority) AW favourites Deafheaven.
That said, it is definitely metal, but it’s metal with a psychedelic space rock, even krautrock bent. Basslines wobble all over the place, synths sound alternately like an outtake from 2001 or Deep Purple, while guitars chime, roar or just sparkle in the void. Oranssi Pazazu just seem to be chucking whatever they feel like into the mix but it works and hangs together, even the bits that make me think of an angry Pink Floyd. The title track sounds like Harmonia covering Planet Caravan, and elsewhere there are vibraphones nestling up to tribal drumming and cookie monster vocals. It’s an extreme melange of sound and influence, weird in the best sense of the word, slightly disorientating, a little unearthly.
I’ll be honest, there’s nothing here for the blues rock or classic pop aficionados amongst us, but I do think the fraternity that likes Mogwai or Explosions In The Sky could get something out of this if they approach with open ears. Hell, there’s even an eighteen minute track with changing time signatures for the proggers (and what a belter it is, opening with the most black metal section of the record, moving into a five minute ambient interlude of glistening guitars and stewed bass that recalls electric Miles Davis before building back again to something that approximates the sound of a star swelling and bursting in a supernova).
I really like this record. It does what the best music should, lift you out of quotidian existence and show you a world that is utterly different. Not sure I’d like to live there, but it’s a great place to visit.