Lauri Hyvärinen, Cut Contexts, Russia, Intonema, int032 CD (2021)
As was the case for so many musicians across the world, the global pandemic and consequent lockdowns in 2020 and 2021 forced Finnish guitarist Lauri Hyvärinen to consider how to use the time he would have spent travelling and touring: he went over recordings he had made over the years and created five 7-minute minimalist collage pieces. Composed from field recordings, various objects (some bounced on the floor) and melodies played on acoustic and electric guitar, these tracks can be so sparse as to be barely discernible from white noise and deep listening is necessary for some of them. On the other hand, other tracks like “Gyral Drifts” and “Unurned” can be super-busy with “Unurned” in particular featuring almost continuous background ambient noise in the major part of the piece. Generally what happens is that the background noise or other field recordings are allowed to run, over which guitar melodies may play … extremely slowly, as it happens, on a couple of tracks … and prompt the guitarist to change the ambient background. At the same time, the background noise itself may prompt a change in the guitar melody or inspire a new one.
The result is an album of more or less continuous music marked by sometimes sudden and unexpected shifts in melody and sound, and in mood as well. The contrasts in volume among tracks can be huge: some pieces can be extremely quiet and subdued, marked by little more than long droning sounds, and others can be very loud, even overwhelming, like the tumbling “Twig Mesh”, if allowed to be. Cut from their original contexts by the pandemic and the lockdowns, these recordings when put together and interacting with Hyvärinen’s own thoughts and moods – at times they influence his decision-making, and at other times he consciously directs them – create their own sonic worlds.
The best way to listen to these tracks is to play the album as a whole from the first to the last track initially and as often as preferred, and then perhaps to mix up the order of the tracks to create your own soundtrack on subsequent hearings. No doubt Hyvärinen will approve; what the theme behind the album may be is that we can influence events to some extent and they us – but ultimately perhaps, we can never have as much influence on the things happening around us as we would like to believe.