by trevor elkin
Finland’s Siinai are mainly known for their collaborative work with Spencer Krug’s Moonface project but their own third album, ‘Sykli’, might just change all that. An absorbing labyrinth with shifting krautrock loops, spiky guitar pendulums and mesmeric, abstract vocals – you will get completely lost in it.
Going into a Siinai album is an adventure. 2014’s left-of-field concept album ‘Supermarket’ was a hypnotic odyssey through shelves, aisles and consumerism, but ‘Sykli’, which explores the cyclical rhythms in life, death and the universe, is much more ambitious. Just like the bracing instrumental landscapes conjured by Godspeed You! Black Emperor, or Tangerine Dream, Siinai are the gods of their own sonic domain, where every mundane detail is both sequential and without meaning. Experienced from inside its whirring machinery, ‘Sykli’ is both overwhelming and addictive.
Opening with ‘Temppeli’ (Temples), levitating synth pads and pulses cast us out into the astral plane, where overtone (throat) singing and breathy drones add some ancient mysticism to an already quite profound sound stage. Next, the title track builds gradually at an atomic level. Metronomic percussion and staccato guitars punctuate darker, choral textures, later joined by meteor flashes of brass until the whole thing explodes in a super-giant star. These vivid themes are intentional, as Siinai says, “with this record we were seeing a lot of space imagery, specifically like in the movie Interstellar.”
The pivotal point of the album is ‘Ananda’. With its eleven-minute mantra of repetitive strings and chants propelling it into infinity, it plays like a Black Hole possessed by a single psychedelic hook. ‘Mestari’ (Masters), the shortest track, provides a gentler come down and something of a rest before ‘Europa’ looms – a calamitous Tesla ball of feedback from which emerges a lead melody (the only one on the album), rounding off a genuinely memorable musical experience.
‘Sykli’ gives lots of insight into Siinai’s potential above and beyond their notable collaborations, not least their transcendent, philosophical approach: “Making music is, for us, a cycle of its own. Not positive or negative, just life happening.”
‘Sykli’ is out now. via Svart Records
You can buy it here