'Värähtelijä' is the fourth album from Finnish avant-garde crew Oranssi Pazuzu, who, apparently, have been transgressing the boundaries of black metal by infusing their sonic noir with experimental textures for a number of years now. I'm actually a newcomer to this act but, when this turned up for review, was intrigued enough by press sheet blurb proclaiming these Finns as "one of the most forward-thinking and interesting metal bands." That's a bold statement which both is and isn't backed up by their latest offering. After fully digesting ''Värähtelijä', sure, I'd agree that Oranssi Pazuzu are "forward-thinking" in their aural aesthetic, and their music is certainly an "interesting" blend of black metal and psychedelia, but they fall short of the metal genre's true sonic iconoclasts (Solefald anyone?) who have, and continue to, push the genre's boundaries in all kinds of innovative directions. Oranssi Pazuzu, while creatively interesting and inventive on the surface, this is within their own meditative space; ultimately failing to break any palpable boundaries.
Further, aside from judgements as to their iconoclastic worth, this album is not without its inherent flaws. Take the sporadically introduced voices throughout. The harshness of the growls and the discordance of the music, somehow, don't quite gel quite as much as you'd expect. They go together about as well as milk chocolate and pickled onions in a toasted sandwich. Both leave a bitter aftertaste that isn't pleasant in any small way. Then again, perhaps this is the crux of Oranssi Pazuzu's intentions. Could it be they want to induce feelings of trepidation and abhorrence through the listening experience? If so, at this, they've succeeded... and not only through the dissonance and mismatched sonics in the instrumentations, but also through the oppressive repetition of looped layers that can, often, annoy rather than unsettle (take 'Lahja' as prime example), and songs' rhythmic structures with some offbeat time signatures.
To discuss flaws with a few individual tracks - 'Havuluu' is probably about as annoying as it gets with its drone-ridden, quasi-sludge repetition sacrificing imagination for self-indulgence. The 'throat clearing' vocals on the title track are a growling low point as the gurgled delivery is entirely lacking in its conviction. 'Hypnotisoitu Viharukous' builds up a bit of a darkened groove in its own twisted, rhythmic space, although don't expect the black 'n' roll of Vreid et al; this is more of a plodding affair that has no real direction, crescendo or climax. 'Vasemman Käden Hierarkia' actually creates a neatly menacing atmosphere in its initial passages, although this is diminished when the vocals are introduced into proceedings, and the song never really fulfils or delivers on the early promise of its motifs (as such, its 17+ minutes duration becomes a tad tiresome).
While the overall experience of listening to Oranssi Pazuzu is a fairly trippy one, it is, unfortunately, also a fairly tedious one during certain (overly long) passages of music, with too much repetition of songs' central motifs showing a lack of compositional imagination. However, like all good music that sets out to challenge the listener, it all depends on what mood you're in as to how you'll digest, comprehend and judge 'Värähtelijä'. I can't really call my experience with the album a pleasant, or even positive, one, although I can certainly declare it an interesting one.
Review by Mark Holmes
26th February 2016
4) Hypnotisoitu Viharukous
5) Vasemman Käden Hierarkia
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"While the overall experience of listening to Oranssi Pazuzu is a fairly trippy one, it is, unfortunately, also a fairly tedious one during certain (overly long) passages of music, with too much repetition of songs' central motifs showing a lack of compositional imagination."