It is remarkable how little music instruments change over time. Percussionists still pound drums and various other found objects. Symphony orchestras, even those with the most modernist repertoires, are not fundamentally different than they were one or two centuries ago. And the synthesizer, arguably the 20th century’s most significant musical step forward is still operated by the same black and white keys.

A new album by Helsinki’s Otso Lähdeoja illustrates this point beautifully. He presents us two series of imaginary recordings: one is meant to have been performed in 1952 and the other in 2022. Each piece is labelled with a date, and the two series are interspersed so as to draw a less clear distinction between them.

It works exceptionally well, regardless of whether or not you pay attention to which piece falls into which category. In fact, several of the album’s most successfully esoteric moments come from the mid-century themed pieces, recorded on an upright piano. The album features customized sound processing modules, field recordings and synth patches.

OTSO’s execution is virtually flawless. The title AAVE, which translates as ghost or phantom, directs our attention to the album’s often mysterious vibe. But make no mistake. The disc is packed with deeply engaging performances. There is a high degree of technical skill here pre- and post-production.

This is OTSO’s third solo release. His bio describes him as “an omnidirectional researcher of all things sonic.” At various times, he has called Finland, Canada, Belgium and France home.

Kevin Press

The Moderns, vols. 1 and 2, by Kevin Press are available exclusively from Amazon.

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