Keraaminen Pää

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Islaja's fifth solo album finds Merja Kokkonen continuing to explore a variety of musical approaches as part of her own never-quite-pinned-down aesthetic; when a song like the opening "Joku Toi Radion" puts together shuffling beats, huge bass growls, muted brass tones, interwoven lead and backing vocals, and organ breaks over vibes, one gets the sense that easy simplicity is not on offer here. Yet, at the same time, it's an immediately catchy, easy to grasp performance with a subtle hook, making Keraaminen Pää, like all her releases, something that invites the listener in rather than challenging them (as so many of the bands she has worked with often seem to do). Fairly straightforward songs like "Pimeytta Kohti," centered around keyboards with vocals front and center in the mix, interwoven with instruments arcing in and out of the mix, never chaotically but constantly expanding the reach of the song. "Rakkauden Palvelija/14. Kasky" almost sounds like it's going to turn into a 4/4 dance stomper, and it does so via a combination of different percussion instruments, a guitar that is both rhythm and solo, and arrangements playing around her soft then suddenly commanding singing, all backed by parts that sound like lost ghosts. Harpsichords and swirling synths play around "Suzy Sudenkita," the woozy melodica break on "Dadahuulet" is set against a delicate string part, making it sound like a carnival, a haunted house, and an avant-garde art project all at once. The exquisite construction of "Ajanlaskun Aatto" is no less compelling, and further demonstrates her exquisite, careful ability.

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