Olli Aarni – Nielu

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Like a bank of obdurate, unmoving clouds hanging above an even greyer ocean, Nielu’s clouded vista closes itself off from the troubles of the world. As the subdued loop continues on and on, it slowly unfolds and its textures begin to unravel. Music: on. World: off.

The first part of Olli Aarni’s latest piece of music (‘Hehkuva tuuli’) is a half-awake, half-asleep soundscape. The dulled, as-if-heard-from-afar ambient throb has that brighter repeating loop tucked away in its centre, swaying to and fro thanks to the wind-swept ambient air and the deeper texture of its sea. Eventually, the brighter part will disappear, leaving only the turbulence of its waves and the steady thunder of its motion. Despite it taking inspiration from the harsh conditions of Fennoscandia, Nielu is a largely tranquil album, although the music isn’t without its stark or bleak weather; those grey clouds give in to a draught of icy air, but even though the temperature is cold, the music still reveals a precious beauty, like a shard of ice or a snow angel in the depths of winter. The evocative music hangs in the air, bringing with it the muted sounds of the season.

A weather-beaten face will lead to an increased circulation of blood, and likewise the textured drones begin to circulate within the airstream, creating spirals within the grey, pulsating clouds which appear so solid and full of shadows on the ground but are so thin when slicing through them. Nielu is Finnish and can be translated as ‘vortex’, ‘throat’, or ‘swallowing’, and the music is like a vortex, at once pulling you into and submerging you in its evocative drones. You inhale it; it goes into your heart. It comes as no surprise to learn that Aarni considers Nielu to be his personal, definitive ambient album.

‘Sumuhuntu’ is the slimmer composition of the two, with a settled-down tone of serenity and acceptance. Clouds clear, until only the partial, fading spittle of drizzle is left. Nothing much seems to be changing, but that’s all an illusion as the music’s surf sprinkles the face and the higher tones rise to the surface. But they’re still not 100% clear or distinct, like a mermaid’s chorus of buried song.


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