“Still Lives” is the third solo full length by the Finnish composer Marja Ahti, following a pair of releases on the Hallow Ground imprint. As a collection, it may be seen as a series of studies on the liminality of the listening act and an investigation into the physicality of sound. Ahti forges vivid electroacoustic environments from field recordings, analog synthesizers, acoustic feedback, magnetic tape and digital processing, resulting in a set of articulate, prickly, and surprising compositions. In the artist’s words, “These pieces could be conceived of as vanitas paintings of a kind – selections of mundane or archetypal objects, sounds that have their own distinct qualities, but exist only by virtue of being temporary events. From another angle, one could think of them as shrines – objects assembled and set in a particular relationship to each other, charging each other in their given constellations.” Marja Ahti (b. 1981) is a musician and composer based in Turku, Finland. Originally from Sweden, Ahti has been a part of the Finnish experimental music scene for more than ten years in different constellations. She is currently active in the duo Ahti & Ahti with her partner and as a member of the Himera artist/organizer collective.
Released by Students of Decay October 8, 2021
The Current Inside plays with the theme of currents – connecting and animating movements in the form of air, water and electricity. It approaches sound as a poetic medium, focusing both on the experience of sound as form and energy and on a loosely narrative arc, suggesting a riddle on the relations between the sounds. It implements alternative as well as intuitive tunings, analog and digital synthesis, recordings of sonorous spaces and vessels, electromagnetic fields transduced into audio, acoustic close-ups of elements in motion and other field recordings. Fluently connecting quite diverse sound sources, the music lingers in a zone between abstract sonorities and vaguely familiar acoustic environments.
The Current Inside was released by Hallow Ground on May 8 2020.
“Comprised of a single work, stretching across the album’s two sides – combining field recordings with electronic sound and treated objects – “Why Do Birds Suddenly Appear?” culminates as a series of interlaced sketches, sounding spaces, possible and unlikely situations, and flirtations with fragments of memory, the very materiality of which poses a challenge to our casual perceptions of freedom, against the relations of power and context.
Shifting between the acousmatic and the diaristic, “Why Do Birds Suddenly Appear?” unfolds as a poetic narrative, speaking the language of the sounds themselves and the spell of their shapes and energies, transforming into an imaginary travelogue of imagistic sonority. Traces of lambs and shepherds, stray cats and swans, embedded within expanses of ambience and electric sound, are not arbitrary or benign. They are glimpses of being, time, and place, woven as a structural metaphor that unveils the political potential of sound, ritual, and movement across northern and southern boundaries, while consciously addressing the meaning of its organization.”
Released by Ouidah on March 27, 2020.
cafeOTO · TR016 – Marja Ahti & Judith Hamann – ‘Portals’ [sample]
“Swedish-Finnish composer/sound artist Marja Ahti and Australian cellist/composer Judith Hamann developed Portals collaboratively from their respective lockdown spaces in Finland, sending recordings back and forth across the eastern most arm of the Baltic sea from Turku to Suomenlinna. Their lines of acoustic & electronic sound pull each other through different composite terrains, revealing imaginary scenery and creating a palimpsest of geographies and time. Akin to film-maker Andrei Tarkovsky’s focus ‘on the pressure of time’, Marja and Judith give weight to each frame of sound’s internal narrative, letting each move slowly from land to island, sea to forest, mundane to remarkable, domestic to public, as if caught in dream motion. As the title suggests, the release offers frames, or windows into Marja and Judith’s combined hearing, into spaces they’ve created together during this time: simultaneously near and distanced.”
Released by Takuroku, May 27, 2020.
Digital download available from Cafe Oto’s portal.
Vegetal Negatives is a game of sonic mutations, mimicry, inversions, and association inspired by a text called “On pataphotograms”, by the French writer René Daumal – a quasi-metaphysical essay that toys with breaking the conceived separateness of natural forms through poetic imagination.
The four electroacoustic compositions on the album combine and arrange field recordings, electronic feedback, Buchla and ARP synthesizers, bowl gong and harmonium, textures of detailed acoustic sound, and sustained tones with gentle microtonal beating into a precise musical narrative.
Vegetal Negatives was released by Hallow Ground on March 29th 2019.
A piece for the Longform Editions series, an online gallery of extended, immersive music. Entering a Cloud draws inspiration from the cycles of liquid in the atmosphere and in the body. A strange substance trickles, evaporates, condensates, crystallizes, melts and coagulates into slime, carrying vibration and resonance. Inside the cloud visibility ends at arms length.
December 12, 2018.