Finnish collective Kemialliset Ystävät has beaten the path through the weedy wilds of the psych-folk revival that sprung up in the early aughts and passed through to far more experimental trails than most of those who joined them on that journey. The collective, always and forever a rotating lineup centered around the direction of Jan Anderzén, is now cultivating a uniquely kaleidoscopic brand of experimental electronic pop that bubbles with color and chaos – albeit contained chaos, like a dayglo hurricane captured in a soda bottle. The record is nothing if not delightful, mostly because it seems to still see the world through eyes glazed with a wonder that’s long since been closed off in other outlets and facets of life.
This is children’s music if it weren’t processed into shiny bits of positivity and machine-fed through advertising algorithms. There are no didactic lessons here, just a willingness to free the spirit. This is just a shimmering sonic encapsulation of the quick-cut attention span, color-saturated visions of how children can’t help but see the world. There’s awe and fear and beauty and light all bumping each other in line one minute, then rising slow and steady like globules in a lava lamp the next. This effect might have something to do with Anderzén’s process of building aural skeletons and sending them out to his collaborators to dress and color in as they choose, allowing for some planned results and some very surprising ones.
The songs on Slippi Empii swirl through the headphones with sounds chirping like frogs, buzzing like sonic gnats and burbling like a CGI brook in the confines of the listener’s headspace. It’s both very real and somehow hyperreal, an uncanny valley of sound that feels as if it might come alive into rubbery reality at any moment. Anderzén’s band of aural tinkerers have cracked open the cosmic bridge between our world and the animated wonderland across the pale – think Rodger Rabbit (or Cool World if you must) – only the prevailing artists are Robert Beatty and Jamie Zuverza. Siipi Empii is the band at their best, bursting with life, pulsating with color and crackling with a positivity that’s elusive in most catalogs these days.
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