I was disappointed the last time I reviewed a heavy techno album from Finland, but faced now with the promise of something “left field”, for which I’ve always been a sucker, and the unmissable invitation to “open my bowels”, I took the plunge once again. Tähtiportti means Stargate. This is worth knowing as it features in a number of the tracks.
Ah.. Kraftwerk. That’s what I initially thought when listening to the opener “Krunuien Kruunu: Karkjaportti”. But this is darker and more sinister, and digs into deep and cavernous recesses. The sultry sounding vocalist [Albert Witchfinder] then hisses and whispers something in Finnish. The cosmic techno sonorisations are dark but create an interesting aura. I have no idea what the vocalist is telling us as my knowledge of the Finnish language is not up to the task and my translator was very little help on this occasion so I’m none the wiser. Apparently this “darkly ancient flow of poetry” with primitive techno is about abysses. What I can say is that with the darkest of electronic forces in the background, the effect is extra terrestrial.
“Poikarakkaus” is like a cult ritual. The track title is repeated as if it means something. When I looked up “poikarakkaus”, it came back as “pederasty” or “boy love”. Strange. I read that it’s a Finnish cult song from the 80s. When the track title isn’t being repeated, the spoken word accompanies a monotonous and repetitive beat with a few cosmic bleeps thrown in. Then “Ole Oikeassal! Lihaportti” moves up in tempo, sounding like an exciting theme song or video game as you’d expect of a track, the second half of whose title translates as “Meat Gate”. The Voice (no, not that TV programme) remains the same. “Tähtiportti iV: Luciderin Pylväs” is a hypnotising, ritualistic chant. The bell has a nighmarish tone. Sinister whisperings accompany a minimalistic rhythm. The album ends with “Vimeinen Tähtiportti”. The words and sounds come from a distant world. The lone drum both tones down and enriches the atmosphere of solitude. It expands again but in the deadened, inhuman style to which we have become accustomed over the course of this strange album.
I don’t think this could work in another language. The Finnish poetry adds to the interesting patterns and explorations of this obscure work. You’ve got to like your techno and like it dark. Tähtiportti take us into an intriguing and strange world.
(7/10 Andrew Doherty)