Jaakko Aukusti - 'Mountain'
We have a whole host of new albums being released over the next few weeks, and some particularly exciting releases too (the Delay Trees being a great example), but for our first 2 album releases of the year we'll be heading to Finland, starting with just a few words on Jaakko Aukusti and his release 'Mountain'. His pre-album single 'Moon Tower' was a particularly unexpected hit in my household over Christmas, mainly because I accidentally assigned it to my 'Christmas Family' playlist rather than the 'Nordic Music Review New Music' playlist, and we thus found ourselves with it streaming around the house on multiple speakers over the Christmas holiday period - and I've been looking forward to the album ever since.
For those of you who haven't come across Jaakko Aukusti before, he's another musician originating from Turku (home to Stillwalkers, Matti Jasu and many more...), and this is his debut album release. During 2016 he received some great coverage not only in the highly recommended One Quart Magazine, as well as other respected publications such as Clash Magazine. And this interest is understandable, as there is a striking distinctness to his always inventive and sometimes magical music writing, which is hugely entertaining and simply just great fun to listen to.
'Mountain' contains 10 tracks that are packed full of big catchy tunes, dancing synths, guitars and clever rhythms - offbeat bedroom pop constructed to the scale of a Disneyland theme park, and I quite simply love the album from start to finish. From the opening of 'Oasis' we are thrown right into glorious mayhem with a syncopated melodic theme, whilst 'Forget' is packed full of upbeat catchy ideas. Pre release single 'Moon Tower' has such a positive feel, that I might even suggest it could be added to your favourite Christmas playlists for years to come, whilst the inventiveness is maintained with 'Ruby Eyes' and the shimmering and reflective 'What if All Else Fails'. There is no let up in latter tracks, with a huge 80's sounding synth theme in '自宅 (Space Cowboy)' and I just adore the concluding track 'Turmoil' - I love the complexity of the opening rhythms, followed by more playful melodies and big instrumental sections.
'Mountain' has accompanied me everywhere over the last few weeks, at work, in the car and most memorably a long coast run where I took great delight in listening to it 3 times consecutively. It really is an impressive album, there is a never ending supply of tunes, some bold, others more delicate, and all accompanied by gentle vocals, which are very easy on the ear. So fascinated have I been by the complexity of the sounds and rhythms, that I've found myself wondering how this is all performed live - and the answer to that is 'brilliantly', if the selection of online performances I've watched are anything to go by. I really recommend this album no matter what your normal tastes in music are, and I already can't wait to hear what Jaakko Aukusti might conjure up next time around.
Nordic Music Review 8.5/10