Karjalainen: A Handful of Dust Is a Desert (Karaoke Kalk)
Finnish artist Hannu Karjalainen dons his full name after an extended
hiatus from his delicate musical explorations. His previous efforts
as Hannu came out in the mid to late 00s, and in the time that’s
since lapsed, Karjalainen has clearly honed his chops and has
produced a fine album of gorgeous serenity.
It reminds me of the
lushness of Leandro Fresco’s El Reino Invisible on Kompakt last year,
but A Handful of Dust might be a little more active. Still, it
resonates a similar vibe of warm tranquility without sounding like
new age treacle. “Angel” starts things off nicely as a warm
welcome back for Hannu, a beatless hazy pattern that will likely
appeal to fans of the woozy ambience of Boards of Canada. “The
Emigrant” is stark and clear by comparison, its gorgeous simple
melodies weaving in and out of each other like twinkling, far-off
stars. But most of A Handful of Dust resides on the spectrum between
those sounds, often peaceful and rarely overtly melancholy. “Meille”
has a drowsy lilt that recalls some of Stars of the Lid’s more active
moments, while “Love, Unconditional” unfurls with a gorgeous,
gassy haze. Only “A Year in a Day” deviates from that
amorphousness, with a regular, delicate hook that feels like a nod to
tech house with only the faintest rhythm section to back it up. It
breaks the album up nicely, the most active track before the two
starkly beautiful closers, “Love is a Black Lion,” whose
painfully pretty patterns recall some of the more haunting moments of
vintage Rapoon, and “Breaks My Heart She Aria,” a dreamy epilogue
punctuated by far off rolls of thunder and reverberated crashes.
an album that took me by surprise, pretty quickly winning me over.
I’ve had it on repeat regularly as one of my latest ambient
favorites. Highly recommended.
Buy it: Bandcamp