LP - Black Vinyl in an 'Inside-out sleeve', original artwork by Islaja, polylined inner sleeve.
Islaja presents her new album ”Angel Tape”, the first release on the new Helsinki-based label Other Power. Drawing inspiration from childhood epiphanies while listening to an alleged recording of angels singing, Islaja has crafted an album that stands out as a major work in her expansive and celebrated catalogue, which includes previous releases on labels such as Ecstatic Peace!, Fonal and Svart.
Islaja, aka Finnish artist Merja Kokkonen, describes her new album as a “counterwork” to her most recent albums, where the mode of composing was more song-based. This time around, she goes more in the direction of vast fields of sound where the human voice is a key ingredient of music that breaks free of strict stylistic guidelines and traditional song forms. Rough around the edges, atonal and otherworldly, "Angel Tape” is the result of a lifetime of inspiration from something beyond the immediate realm of our experience, an attempt to catch the elusive essence of musical otherness.
”As a child, I listened to the ’angel tape’ my mother played, and I never thought that the human voices I heard on it were angels singing. Instead, all the aural debris lying just beneath the surface caught my attention as I thought it was mysterious and something from a different world than ours, and so that was probably what was referred to as the ’angels’ so miraculously caught on tape”, Kokkonen explains. ”I think this was one thing that led me on this lifelong quest to find new sounds and forms in music.”
The tape she is referring to, a mid-80s church recording, was passed around in religious circles. Each time the tape was copied, it became slightly more distorted. It was believed that this recording of religious music had accidentally captured for the first time the voices of actual angels singing. The tape was rumoured to have originated in Kansas City and to have made its way to Finland.
Whereas Islaja has often thought of albums as being collections of recent songs presented together, ”Angel Tape” has a strong sense of conceptual coherence. The music comes from a place. That doesn’t mean that one must take a single path from one place to the next, as close listenings of the album reveal layers upon layers of not only sound but also of mood and meaning. From the human voice in its barest form, to the rising dense walls of sound moving and reshaping, ”Angel Tape” is a captivating album that unveils new contours with each repeated listening.
A2. Pulpit Rising
A4. Oh Divine
B1. Angel Tape
B3. Teresa’s Song