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Approximately Infinite Universe

CCA, Glasgow
4 stars
The parallel rise over the last couple of years of so-called free folk scenes in both America and Finland has thrown up a fantastically diverse array of acts, many of whom embrace 1960s hippy idealism alongside a primitive DIY aesthetic. Getting artists from both camps to collaborate is an inspired idea by the Contemporary Music Network in association with the low-level No-Fi and (No.Signal) organisations. While the first night of this short UK tour suggests compromises have been made as cultures don’t so much clash as tip-toe around each other, identities and influences nevertheless fuse in often unexpected ways.

Closest to folk in the conventional sense is the opening set by Es, aka film-maker and Fonal Records boss, Sami Sänpäkkilä, and Tara Burke’s Fursaxa project. Their fusion of wordless vocals with organ, guitar and FX creates a hauntingly spectral gush. Tampere based Jan Anderzen appears onstage twice. First up is his Kemialliset Ystavet band project, who are paired with Axolotl’s Karl Bauer on electronic percussion. Led by insistently repetitive bass and wigged-out guitars, the combination leans towards the rhythmic mantras of German Kosmische music.

Even more surprising is Helsinki diva Islaja, aka Merja Kokkonen. Aided by Blevin Blectum’s & Samara Lubelski, the trio take a beat-heavy foray into Teutonic gay disco. Finally, the lights are dimmed for Dream Triangle, in which Anderzen in his Tomutonttu guise joins Spencer Clark and James Ferraro’s Skaters duo for a blissed-out finale of insular chilled-out beauty. Overall, the spirit of a more themed version of the sadly lost Subcurrent festival, which ran in the CCA for a few years, is conjured up in a magical display of sonic alchemy.

The Herald, October 2008

ends

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