Aki Yli-Salomäki - J​ä​i mieleen (Album Review)

Finnish neoclassical composer Aki Yli-Salomäki stretches his sparse compositions towards oceanic and blurred parameters on Jäi mieleen, an album of nine patient, thoughtful and colourful compositions for strings and synthesizer. The first three tracks see heavily sustained bows of cello and violin rise and fall around melancholia, sometimes finding disharmonic notes. However, Yli-Salomäki leaves these more complex intuitions to subtlety, emphasizing arid and emotive landscapes akin to those found in Northern Suomi. 

Though these tracks have a meditative quality, they mostly inspire introspection and recalibrating of our circadian rhythm, the listener's sense of time mitigated with temporal ambivalence. The pristinely recorded instruments are courtesy of violinists Kreeta-Julia Heikkilä and Siljamari Heikinheimo, violist Jakob Dingstad, and cellist Jaani Helander. However, when Yli-Salomäki joins them with synthesizers on "Vain kaikuja I (Only Echoes I)," a new dimension is alluded to by extrapolating the deeper resonances of the acoustic instrumentation into something more metaphysical. 

Jäi mieleen appears to get more experimental the longer it exists, and "Vain kaikuja III (Only Echoes III)" lays witness to spidery electronics crawling across frenzied pizzicato strings and subtle ambiences to chilling effect. This suite continues with "Vain kaikuja IV (Only Echoes IV)," a droning and nightmarish foray into the album's deeper recesses, before concluding with "Vain kaikuja V (Only Echoes V)," a glacial mound of synths, screeching strings, and textures that culminate in a profound observation. "Siirtymä (A Transition)" closes the album with gentle tones, transitioning from orchestral seriousness into a cosmic and rose-eyed proclamation of the dream-like potential of music.

"Jäi mieleen" translates into English as "It's stuck in the mind", and this title could reveal the artist's motivation; an attempt to iron out the creases of memory with compounded sonic structures that apply incendiary pressure across the base of the listener's unconscious mind. This highly effective album makes quite an indelible impression on your day.