Whispers from the Woods

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After 1997-2000, its generous three-CD anthology of MCMS, Last Visible Dog offers another comprehensive look at the early years of an obscure artist of the free-folk fringe, Uton. The Scandinavian enigma, whose pastoral drones evoke both the projects of the Jewelled Antler Collective and the soft noise bliss of the Double Leopards, gets the full treatment for this set, his first official release after a number of private and semi-private CD-R pressings. Whispers from the Woods culls over three hours' worth of material previously released and unreleased, packaged with very little information and an eye-catching 12-panel booklet that puts the forest at the heart of the music's imagery. Each disc presents one full album, plus a couple of compilation tracks and unreleased pieces. Disc one consists of the 2002 Haamumaa album Tämän Ganan Jälkeen. Here, Uton uses mostly acoustic instruments to create a dense, droning form of secretive free-folk, where the influence of the American underground scene is quite obvious. It is a strong album in that vein, further reinforced by the two unreleased bonus tracks and "Oua," taken from the compilation set Melting Works. Disc two makes a harsher proposition. "Mikä Rasvaa Maan Gisällä" (first released on Hammasratas in 2003) revolves more closely around the electric guitar and approaches noise as a grainy texture. The first disc tended to suck the listener into its universe, but this second helping pushes away any attempt at making a more personal contact. This disc also includes two bonus tracks, plus "Neutral Power," which first appeared on the Humbug compilation Cottage Industrial, Vol. 2. On "Ay Um Au Lam," first a CD-R on the Jewelled Antler label and the bulk of disc three, Uton went for a sound in between the previous two sets. The result is quite satisfactory, though not as poignant as "Tämän Ganan Jälkeen" and with much more tape hiss. Acoustic and electric instruments are used almost indistinguishably to produce soundscapes that are very reminiscent of the Double Leopards -- out of the free-folk current, but not quite into the noise scheme of things. This disc is rounded out by two more previously unheard tracks and the 20-minute EP Buddhamania, which is a great companion piece to "Ay Um Au Lam."

Track Listing - Disc 3

Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 7:17
2 3:46
3 5:04
4 4:29
5 2:04
6 6:45
7 10:26
8 3:41
9 6:06
10 7:41
11 5:26
12 7:16
blue highlight denotes track pick