Noise music is an acquired taste, but sometimes it’s surprising how much you can acquire in one sitting. Not that I’ve suddenly gone from my initial reaction of wondering what the hell is going on in Utu Lauttiru’s Nielu to singing its praises to all who’ll listen, but I have found myself going from wanting to to turn it off to thinking, well that was sort of interesting. What you have in Nielu is aggressive, unlikeable buckets of drone and industrial-ish noise that, all of a sudden, opens its hands to show you Finnish folk music set in a sort of deconstructionist framework. Or maybe it’s a somewhat graceless set of piano notes loosely working their way around a melody but finding that they need to kick through some junk someone’s left on the floor. And sometimes, as with “Wait and Witness” or “Skinned By Sea,” it rears up on its hind legs like some massive noisebeast monstrosity that roars into your face for several minutes at a time and isn’t interested in giving you a break.The acoustic elements that get thrown into the mix here seem like almost ironic efforts to humanize the music or at least give the timid listener some kind of anchor point. But they’re shaky and brief and we all know they don’t belong here. Please feel free to admit that the voices singing like some sort of twisted ghost chorus in “Mother Mountain Father Stream” gives you the creeps. You won’t be alone. But you have to admit, it’s a little fascinating—the same way a terrible accident is fascinating.
Nielu is challenging, by design. It requires patience and an open mind. Lautturi’s work has the ability to just about drive me away before making me need to hear a little more. It’s not something that I want to hear a lot of, and parts of it certainly stand out more, but it’s a hard listen that I’ve had to take in doses. Surprise elements help soften the blow, but it’s still a musical punch in the head. I would recommend Nielu to listeners with very experimental tastes, or for those who need something extremely visceral. You can look quite deeply into this work. Whether you like what you see is a matter of opinion.
Available from Pale Noir.