The instant I saw this title it put me in mind of Morgan Fisher’s curated compilation Miniatures. No doubt there have been other attempts at the concept. I believe The Residents tried a similar thing on their mere 40-song long Commercial Album. Any similarity between Panu-Pekka Rauhala’s artistic endeavour on display here, and the other two I mentioned is contextual only.
Panu-Pekka Rauhala is a Finnish composer and sound designer, and his website cover picture has him looking owlishly into the elevated lens, and surrounded as he is by a plethora of instruments, he gives off a suitable boffin-like air. Intellectual approaches such as that on 60 Songs… demands such a stance, I would think!
Once you get past the headache-inducing cover art, which may or may not be indicative of a twisted sense of humour in the land of the pickled herring, the music therein, as indicated on the Bandcamp description, is indeed highly filmic, and tends towards a classical or jazz approach, with compositional traits linking the whole thing together.
The best way to play this is in one sitting, and paying full attention, but conversely it also works as background music. Make sure you play it on a device that does not insist on inserting a gap between the tracks, as that is more than a little off-putting, I can tell you!
Snatches of melody permeate these one-minute snapshots, the linking themes borrowing from modern classical theory as expounded in the works of Philip Glass. The spotlight occasionally falls on individual instruments, but for the most part this is a fine example of ensemble playing. The percussive clatter of Glimpse (track 7) is followed by the disembodied chatter of Holography (8), which adds interesting use of electronica to the mix, a tool used sparingly but effectively throughout.
The one word track titles read like scene cues in a sci-fi movie: “Displacement”, “Imagery”, “Jovian”, “Replicant”, “Waken”, “Xenomorphic”, and so on. I half expected Thomas Jerome Newton to make an appearance at any point. Mournful cello creeps across the surface playing with the linking melody on Jovian (10), machinery marches to the orchestral heft of Krypton (11), and we are only 11 tracks/minutes in.
Rock arrangements are uncommon, and the appearance of some highly technical and off-kilter guitar work in a Holdsworth mode on Unhuman (21) comes as a nice surprise. The guitar continues into the lightly stirred ambience of Vision, Waken and Xenomorphic (22 to 24) with an eerie e-bow effect as the suite becomes becalmed somewhere way out in a far galaxy.
Xenization (26) pops its head round the corner of a smoke-filled jazz club, Bivious (28) finds some be-bop under a stone, Gamma (33) with its lovely piano flourishes presaging the re-introduction to the linking theme is a little marvel, Kiloyear (37) glistens like sunshine on a rain-soaked pavement, Ominous (41) stomps around, muttering and dread into Perplex (42). Moods change quickly on this album, the film is a cut-and-paste arthouse movie seemingly randomly zigzagging through the human condition. A circus freak charging about in a house of mirrors.
The last five minutes commence with the piano-led sturm und drang of Darkening (56), continue with almost Univers Zero heaviosity of Emotions, creep creepily into Fatalistic and the rising tension of the tick-tock rhythmic tension of Gnomon, and end with vocal countdown of Hour, and the film has become as noir as can be.
The entire performance of the album by a full ensemble on the video above reveals all. This is intelligent music for folk who like to venture several steps beyond verse-chorus-verse-chorus-middle eight-chorus in their esoteric listening habits.
Total Time – (Guess!)
Panu-Pekka Rauhala – Piano, Composing
Vili Itäpelto – Synthesizers
Ossi Maristo – Guitar
Tuomas Rauhala – Drums
Paul Uotila – Double bass
Erik Hippi – Tenor Saxophone, Flute
Matti Laaksonen – Cello
Riku Vartiainen – Cello
Lotta Ahlbeck – Violin, Electric violin
Aino Rautakorpi – Violin
Record Label: Independent
Country of Origin: Finland
Date of Release: 14th January 2018