Album Appreciation: Musikki 1 by MAHTI

Right… let’s start again.

That’s because my last attempt at writing something about this new album by Finnish band, MAHTI, ended with me becoming so zoned out listening to it that I never actually managed to formulate any words about it… let’s see if I can manage to do better this time.

As you will have gathered ‘Musikki 1’ is one of those sets that you hook yourself onto and just let it take you off into the ether. To get me going, here’s what that band themselves say about their music:

Lengthy semi-improvisational pieces are built on top of complex, hypnotic grooves which are layered with opaque guitars and strangely soothing noise elements. In the heart of it all there’s kantele, an ancient Finnish string instrument played by Hannu Saha, who has studied Finnish folk music in theory and practice for nearly five decades. 

Add into that mix the rhythm section from Circle (Jussi Lehtisalo and Tomi Leppänen) and psychiatrist Teemu Elo, and you have a heady mix that promises something rather special and potentially unique.

…and that is pretty much what you get, five diverse tracks which, if they have an underlying theme binding them together, it is that they all seem to exist on a plane that is above the mundane… tracks that seem to unlock something that is more, well, you could call it spiritual if you wanted… but certainly takes you out there… wherever you like ‘there’ to be.

This happens right from the start with opener ‘Pala 1’ which immediately gets underway with a lush melody that just gets you and from there on… well that was my issue with the last listen through… I just listened and lost myself in some wonderful floaty thoughts. And when you do get into it like that you come to hear what’s going on underneath… a great melange on music from different places which just fuse together seamlessly… the drone with the intricate…

This continues into ‘Pala 2’ which has a lovely spacey feel to it, coupled with industrial pops and bangs… with the kantele, and perhaps other strings, breaking through on occasion… again there is so much going on hear that is difficult to describe how it fits together… but fit together it does…

After that ‘Pala 3’ sets off at more of the sort of rate that you’d expect with two members of Circle on the team… but even then there’s another angle… actually, no, another dimension which soon comes out… something more bucolic… after the industry of the previous track this one feels far more at one with nature… a communion if you like which, as a listener, you just want to fold into… it is fair to say that there is an element of menace here… somehow keeping you on your toes… but, nevertheless, you come out of it with a sort of wholesome feeling… in a good way obviously…

‘Pala 4’ is a bit different again… there is a more present sense of motion to this… it’s not quite motorik, but it’s not far off either… but to analyse it is to miss the point here… this is clearly music to kick back too… and again it’s difficult to keep focus for the purposes of this piece because I keep wanting to lean back into it and let it enrobe me…

…and before you know it you’re at the final track… and immediately enjoying the deep bass beats underpinning the delicate lattice-like playing above it… like everything here it really is an absolute joy just to let go and let the music take you… an absolute case study in the idea that great ambient music is far from passive… this is very much there front and centre… but never overly intrusive…

Right I’m off to listen to this again now… without having the self-imposed job of writing about it… an album that is more than worthy of your attention… well perhaps one that makes you lose your attention… and in the shit show that is much of the twenty first century… that’s surely no bad thing.

‘Musikki 1’ is released on Riot Season Records, and is available here. A second album’ Musikki 2’ will be out on the same label later in the year.



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