”When you stop doing what you want, you’re free to do anything at all.” This pronouncement by Finnish sculptor Heikki W. Virolainen (1936 – 2004) came to mind as I listened to SlowHill’s new album, Fennika.
SlowHill is a full-fledged side project of mosaic-like beauty by two musicians with lengthy and prestigious pedigrees (DJ Slow aka Vellu Maurola, b. 1975 and Tapani Rinne, b. 1962). They were at liberty to do anything and it shows: the music flows free, it is effortless and internalized. The Now, living in the moment filled with vitality, produces a tingling sensation in the fingertips.
Fennika by SlowHill is like a hockey player’s summer or a sailor’s winter. What’s left? Memories, longing, hope, friendship and brotherhood. Faith in the future. Time has taken on a golden verdigiris and attained harmony – it is a shameless beauty, for chaos has been emptied and organization creates something totally new. We’re not talking just about digital and organic structures, but also of melodies, colors, light, space, dramatic structure and time dimension – the result is something that only the northern zone of melancholy is capable of producing.
An emotional state is somewhere between will and consummation. SlowHill’s music is how the world feels to them. This fact imbues this music that creates its own destiny both direction and substance.
We can say that destiny is the greatest common denominator here, not the meaningless genre designation you might attach to it, be it ’horizontal listening music’ or whatever.
One essential facet of SlowHill’s internalized music is its ability to move off center stage and into the background when the listener wants it to, but it is right back in the spotlight the second you start concentrating on it. This is a byproduct of DJ Slow’s production methods, which sense the listener’s emotional reactions in advance, and of the way the pieces follow each other. The whole has a flowing and natural feel to it, which is only fitting considering the dj:ing background of one of our protagonists. That is the framework of the music dealt with, the bedrock on which the stories are constructed. This dramatic arc is supplied by Tapani Rinne, a pioneer in the art of infusing products of music technology with a warm, human glow and gentle breath-like rhythms as he slowly exhales the music out of a variety of horns. It’s like watching the gentle undulation of faraway hills.
There are friends present in this stream, sampled and recycled by SlowHill, connected to their destiny (eg. Come Back as a Butterfly – Rajaton orchestra; Riekko – Wimme Saari; La Noche En La Isla – J.Karjalainen, originally inspired by a Pablo Neruda poem, originally recited by the man himself, but untangling the web of copyright would have taken longer than the making of the album... perhaps some day we will hear it in its original form).
Put on SlowHill’s Fennika and surrender yourself to the mercy of a stream that creates its own destiny.
Eeropekka Rislakki 23rd November, 2004, Helsinki
(translation and embellishment by Arttu Tolonen)