Olli Aarni and Mia Tarkela – Unimetsä

Olli Aarni and Mia Tarkela - Unimetsä, white flowers against a dark background with bright red light leak.

“Unimetsä” is a cassette + zine project featuring music from Olli Aarni and photography by Mia Tarkela. The photographs were taken while on mushroom-picking trips in the Finnish forests of Joutsa and Vantaa, and show bucolic natural scenes bordered by soft focus and light leaks, evoking a dreamlike atmosphere. The music complements these images perfectly, using hazy ambience to create the same sense of peace and calm as often experienced outdoors in the midst of nature. The release is completed by a bonus download of additional music compiled from Aarni’s extensive archive.

The first piece of the album (side ‘A’ of the cassette) opens with pretty, glowing ambient chords. Subtle movements and fluctuations echo the constant low-level activity of the forest. Change happens, but so slowly as to be almost imperceptible; new pitches come and go quietly and unobtrusively. Later on, more prominent surges and retreats increase the energy and momentum just a little. The entrance of a higher-pitched gleam feels like that moment in a sunrise when the light first clears the tops of the trees, and a soft lower-pitched chug announces the beginning of activity at ground level as humans and other animals start their day.

The second piece is in many ways a repeat of the first, differing in its harmony but with the same relaxed ambient mood. It’s like being in the same forest, watching the same sunrise, but on a different day (or perhaps the sunset of the same day). This time, the movements of different pitches conspire to create the impression of a two-pitch pattern see-sawing gently. Taken as a whole, “Unimetsä” is a hymn in praise of nature, of beauty, and of the calmness and peace they bring. The music is not particularly ground-breaking in its form or ideas, but sometimes this kind of well-crafted microtonal ambience is just what you need to hear.

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Olli Aarni


Image by Mia Tarkela

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