Sonic Debris: The psychedelic minimalism of Jarse

In this occasional series Joel Kupiainen takes a look at the secret forms of Music, hidden in plain view. In the second edition of Sonic Debris, Joel discusses Turku-based psychedelic minimalist power duo Jarse.

In this occasional series Joel Kupiainen takes a look at the secret forms of Music, hidden in plain view. In the second edition of Sonic Debris, Joel discusses Turku-based psychedelic minimalist power duo Jarse.

Kaarlo Stauffer

Kaarlo Stauffer

Of the whole circle of experimental musicians associated with the Fonal label, few have as singular and distinct a vision as Turku-based multi-instrumentalist and electronics wizard Jari Suominen. His contribution as keyboardist for psychedelic folk-rockers Kiila and his work with his older group Shogun Kunitoki is characterized by a penchant for simple, yet blissful chords and melodies and the warm tones of analog oscillators. Rumor has it that the man harbors a particular fondness for the round buzz of square waves when working with sound synthesizers.

Fonal

Fonal

Jarse’s debut album Det går runt igen – which was almost completely ignored to death by the Finnish music press upon it’s release in the summer of 2014 – takes this approach and refines it further. Performing as a duo with drummer Jaakko Tolvi, whose extensive activities as a drummer alone would require a feature in itself, Jarse take a bare bones approach to psychedelic music from the angle of repetition and minimalism.

Riffs and themes carry strong hints of vintage Scandinavian psychedelia, though never sounding outdated or clichéd. Occasionally Suominen sings soft melodies over his organically pulsating collages of sound.

A four song-cycle, the album stands as a milestone in modern Finnish psychedelia. Often repetitive keyboard and guitar-lines are layered on top of each other, creating a kaleidoscopic mass of sound. At other times a single guitar or synth plays beautiful repetitive melodies against bubbling electronics. Riffs and themes carry strong hints of vintage Scandinavian psychedelia, though never sounding outdated or clichéd. Occasionally Suominen sings soft melodies over his organically pulsating collages of sound. It plays like a soundtrack to a film, equal parts retro-futurist sci-fi and scandinavian fantasy.

Live, Jarse is a real treat. While Tolvi’s solid drumming is always a pleasure to hear live, the duo’s compositions really come alive in a live-setting. Operating as a duo, there’s an amount of pre-recorded sounds to the live show, but the emphasis is on the hypnotic repetition of the live guitars and keyboards performed by Suominen. Unlike a lot of psychedelic music, though, Suominen’s compositions, especially his melodies, are actually quite accessible and memorable, which makes the live show very approachable, despite the obvious experimental flair.

Apparently, a second album will eventually see the light of day at some point in the future. Jarse has also provided an alternative score to the cult flick Conan the Barbarian at the H2Ö-festival in 2014. We at Sonic Debris hold our breath while waiting for future endeavors of this dynamic duo.

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