Ahti & Ahti: Why Do Birds Suddenly Appear, Ouidah, 2020
Why Do Birds Suddenly Appear? is the debut LP from the Turku, Finland based duo, Marja Ahti and Niko-Matti Ahti released by the new Blume imprint Ouidah.
Comprised of a single work, stretching across the album’s two sides – combining field recordings with electronic sound and treated objects – Why Do Birds Suddenly Appear? culminates as a series of interlaced sketches, sounding spaces, possible and unlikely situations, and flirtations with fragments of memory, the very materiality of which poses a challenge to our casual perceptions of freedom, against the relations of power and context.
Shifting between the acousmatic and the diaristic, Why Do Birds Suddenly Appear? unfolds as a poetic narrative, speaking the language of the sounds themselves and the spell of their shapes and energies, transforming into an imaginary travelogue of imagistic sonority. Traces of lambs and shepherds, stray cats and swans, embedded within expanses of ambience and electric sound, are not arbitrary or benign. They are glimpses of being, time, and place, woven as a structural metaphor that unveils the political potential of sound, ritual, and movement across northern and southern boundaries, while consciously addressing the meaning of its organization.
Astoundingly diverse in its materiality, and visionary in its structures and approaches, Ahti & Ahti’s Why Do Birds Suddenly Appear? encapsulates a holistic form of avant-gardism, drawn on a deep sense of humanity and forward thinking experimentation, which seamlessly addresses a multiplicity of meanings within sound and the act of creation. Bristling, tense, and immersive, the LP presents a sonorous body within which the hand of the artists becomes increasingly obscure.
”Let us unfold the animal outward: the bronchia will become a thick foliage, keeping its respiratory function, but in reverse, naturally (CO2 absorption), reversed also concerning color, from the tint of calves’ lungs to its complementary cabbage green. The digestive system will become roots, maintaining its role of drawing in nourishment from the outside environment. […] for each animal form there exists a corresponding vegetal form. The man who would find his vegetal negative and unite with it would restore the integrity of the cosmos.”
Vegetal Negatives is a game of sonic mutations, mimicry, inversions, and association inspired by a text called “On pataphotograms”, by the French writer René Daumal – a quasi-metaphysical essay that toys with breaking the conceived separateness of natural forms through poetic imagination.
The four electroacoustic compositions on the album combine and arrange field recordings, electronic feedback, Buchla and ARP synthesizers, bowl gong and harmonium, textures of detailed acoustic sound, and sustained tones with gentle microtonal beating into a precise musical narrative. She juxtaposes recordings of rooms and empty vessels, natural and artificial climates, spontaneous and staged events. Ahti draws upon Annea Lockwood’s ideas about associative movements between sounds based on shared characteristics and sonic energy. Her approach to field recordings is neither diaristic, documentaristic, nor purely acousmatic, but rather it starts out from somewhere in between these notions: the sounds hover between abstraction and the deeply familiar, moving into a realm of poetic metaphor where they are set in relation to each other, fleetingly mirroring or shadow-dancing. Acoustic environments mutate into synthetically derived shadow forms.
The opening track, “Coastal Inversion”, moves from a seemingly familiar seascape into an ocean of wavelike synthetic staccato patterns, turning itself inside-out on the shore, before diving back into a sea of resonance. ”Rooftop gardens” arranges a series of largely unprocessed field recordings into a dream-logic sequence of upward movement towards the clouds. On the other side, ”Symbiogenesis” brews a slow evolution of wet, airy and earthy sounds and resonant friction. The closing track, ”Chora”, imagines a meditative space of breath: filter resonance posing as organ pipes against a backdrop of breezy industrial hoovers merges halfway with a harmonium improvisation that foregrounds the frictions of the wooden instrument itself, just before filtering out into resonant harmony.
Released March 29 2019 via Hallow Ground
Tiheäsalo & Ahti are Topias Tiheäsalo and Niko-Matti Ahti from Turku, Finland. They both have been working in the field of music and sound art for the past couple of decades. They are also part of Himera, a work group organizing concerts and a yearly festival in Turku.
The duo’s first release is called ”Four Letters – Life”. The work touches on the very basic issues of human condition, life and death, and the preparedness for something that is impossible to be prepared for. The work contains dialogue in Finnish: these parts have been translated into English and can be found on the cover of the CD.