Pihka Is My Name (Finland) - ‘Everything Is In Between’ (album)
It’s not often that I take musical recommendations from British newspaper The Sunday Sport, but they’ve got it pretty much right with their 5* recommendation of Finnish electronic ambient minimalist band Pihka Is My Name. I’m less sure whether their story about ‘Boris Johnson’s Sex Dwarf’ getting drowned in a trifle is entirely accurate, or (to ensure political balance) whether the story about ‘Jeremy Corbyn‘s Sex Dwarf‘ getting eaten by otters is entirely true either. But at least their legendary Cardiacs story was more accurate. Well perhaps.
Anyway in less than 60 words they seem to have summed up why ‘Everything is In Between’ by Pihka Is My Name is worth listening to and good on them.
We have written about the Helsinki duo (composer / pianist / arranger Henna Helasvuo and producer / synthesist / engineer Lasse Turunen) a couple of times previously, notably when they debuted with track ‘Binaries’. The idea behind the project is that Pihka is a small robot, the former imaginary friend of a boy who doesn’t want to have an imaginary friend anymore, and she disappears off on her own adventures. I think at the time I described the storyline as a hybrid between ‘Toy Story’ and ‘Babe: Pig in the City’, showing a frightening knowledge of the latter films plot in the process.
I’ve mentioned ‘Binaries’ previously, and it’s a stand out track, with a gorgeous melancholy cello accompanying the bubbly electronic dance, although if you don’t like it, then you probably won’t like the rest of the album – because it’s very much written in a similar style. ‘+-‘ is harsher in the opening, a sense of foreboding with the booming synths, before a lovely piano carries the track forward, whilst ‘The Irresolution and the Ego’ has a fleeting orchestral feel.
‘Little Bubbles’ focuses on one of my favourite topics, that “humans seem to think that the somewhat randomly pointed enemy represents only a single idea. This concept is fortified by the Social Media. It creates little bubbles around groups of people. Imaginary, yet seemingly impenetrable little bubbles.” It’s powerful musically, and the intense rhythms will draw you slowly in, with the soundscape developing to an almost cinematic scale.
The softly textured ‘Would You Reimagine Me’ works for the most part, whilst ‘Between the Icicle and The Flame’ feels really Steve Reich inspired, and the evolving shapes seem to create new melodies from within, and for me it’s a real highlight. The album ends with the dramatic title track, an almost frenzied climax, again with the cello at the forefront - there’s even some vocals to add to the final mix.
I did fear that the style of instrumental electronica would result in an album which felt somewhat two-dimensional, and it’s certainly true that PIMN do write in a very distinct way. But they weave such clever patterns, and it’s written to a bold cinematic scale that allows the visions of their adventuring robot to be really clearly pictured. They may not always be quite spot on with their political sex dwarf scoops, but the Sunday Sport definitely know their Finnish electronica.
Nordic Music Review 8/10