Literally while I was jotting down the 2008 year-in-review list I first listened to this totally incredible cdr by Ester Poland, an obscure Finnish free-folk collectives around Lauri Väinölä and Teemu Vatanen. I can’t help but wonder whether free-folk collectives outnumber any other social form to make music in Finland but if they’re as good as these guys I’ll be happy to keep them coming.
For “Lepakonmetsästys” is now holding its place as the year’s biggest surprise in my 2008 list. It’s almost too good to be true as it combines almost everything I’m looking for in music: Washed-out folk that is totally out there. Weird, uncanny metal in the vein of Urfaust or Circle of Ouroborus. Frenzied repetitive riffing that’s always on the verge of psychedelic freakout, think the “true Sheffield psychedelia” people like Dukkha or Skultroll. Unsettling bucolic imagery on the album cover, hinting at the sombre marriage of metal and folk that the musicians pull off so gloriously. A somewhat trashy approach to releasing music, as witnessed by the pathetic photoshop work in the booklet or by the colour printout that is out of focus. A label named “Wooden Sherpa” that seems to be devoted to releasing the collective’s work only. And a mysterious back-catalogue which includes a 35-minute “disasterpiece” and other tracks that, the label claims, can be “measured by no man”.
And let’s not forget the track titles. Album opener “Filosofian kuolema” takes on Burzum and indeed offers more than ten minutes of buzzing guitar, the drums barely audible back in the mix, at least most of the time. While this might seem a bit formulaic, rest assured that Ester Poland are doing it right. And by the time you’ve reached the third track, “Hemofilia”, with its massive doom riffs, you’ve already heard a windspiel chime blissfully and chances are you’re beyond caring. If not, “Franz Emil Himmelbaum ja tippukiviluolat” is up next and will win you over with yet another magnificent instrumental, this time very laid back and richly orchestrated, but still spaced out, like Grails jamming with Kemiallisett Ystävät. Unplugged. By the way, Ester Poland’s latest cdr has come out on Luovaja. I’ve yet to hear that one, but I will. 9/10 -- Jan-Arne Sohns (14 January, 2009)