From Norway, we have the composer Juhani Silvola and his Post-Biological Wildlife (EIGHTH NERVE AUDIO 8nerve003), released on his own label. This fellow covers many bases, but among other things he plays in a folk duo with Sarah-Jane Summers, the wonderful violin player recently noted. Post-Biological Wildlife is an extremely imaginative and quite innovative set of electronic and electro-acoustic compositions; he doesn’t feel the need to explain every single piece and its workings with extensive sleeve notes, and indeed the cover is quite bare apart from an austere nature photo on the cover and some stark lines of text inside.
This particular set is attempting to draw influence from the wide history of avant-garde music, with explicit intent to reference the works of the French INA GRM school (this is most evident on ‘Machines of Loving Grace’, a very affectionate tribute to musique concrète that manages to avoid descending into pastiche) and 20th century chamber music, but he also favours more contemporary endeavours such as harsh noise from Japan and even modern techno from Finland. I think all of the music is created through electro-acoustic methods, with the exception of ‘Vaster Than Empires’ which is derived from layered samples and recordings of the violin playing of Sarah-Jane Summers. ‘20th Century Meditation’ is evidently the minimal-techno homage, and it’s brilliant; I like the way it seems to inhabit electronic music from totally different periods, appearing to be both 1950s and 1990s at the same time. I’m starting to sense all of Silvola’s music has this degree of accessibility; he’s not afraid to make music that’s enjoyable and approachable, without making life difficult for the audience.
On the title track ‘Post-Biological Wildlife’, I would say he’s trying the “heightened sense of nature” thing that seems to crop up regularly on the Gruenrekorder label, and among those musicians like Thomas Tilly who somehow manage to present, in sound, detailed micro-studies of tiny insects and organisms in the water. But Silvola’s world is also very dramatic and imaginative; towards the end he seems to be combining multiple weather systems (thunderstorms, tornadoes) clashing in an impossible space. Meanwhile the epic piece ‘Speculative Phonography Pt. 1’ likewise draws on a large library of field recordings and assembles them into a detailed, complex, semi-narrative journey across imaginary terrains, adding passages of uncertain drone and ambiguous chords to wend us on our merry way. It’s here also, I think, that the “harsh noise” elements rear their feedback-laden jaws for the occasional blast of roarage and ferocity. At all times however Silvola is like a breath of fresh air in what may be a rather over-crowded field; his sounds are very new and individual, in an area full of over-familiar tropes and tricks, and he exhibits a lot of warmth and creativity in these pieces.
Curious listeners wishing more may wish to bend an ear to his 2017 release on this label, Imaginary Archives Vol.1: Ritual Music From Nameless Civilisations. This, from 17th January 2019.