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Artist: ÖÄK

Album: ÖÄK

Label: Zerga

Review date: Oct. 25, 2004

In a less mundane world, ÖÄK’s “legendary,” “seminal” recordings would change hands for hundreds of dollars and sweaty, black-clad scenesters would praise the group’s name from Moscow to Los Angeles. Instead, this long-defunct Estonian power trio has become the ultimate arcane cult act; isolated in the post-Soviet underground of early-’90s Tallinn, the band’s buried legacy consisted solely of local cassette compilations plus several slightly higher profile tunes on the LP/CD sampler Mykistäviä Välikohtauksia/Dumbstriking Incidents (Bad Vugum,1994). Until now.

Released by Finland’s excellent Zerga label and remastered at wake-the-dead volume, this new retrospective 7” unearths ÖÄK’s complete 1993 studio sessions, including all three songs from the aforementioned anthology. Hastily laid down in the midst of a hectic tour, the EP’s five slices of tilt-a-whirl sludge electrify grimy psych-punk with heady experimentalism and blown-out, metallic thrash. Churning tape loops, distorted vocals and Peeter Krull’s grainy guitar hyperactively orbit leader Erkki Tero’s bludgeoning fuzz bass and Allan Amberg’s relentless, stiff-backed drumming. The breakneck turmoil pauses only once, to make way for the distant flute, raked turntable and lazy trip-hop shuffle of the transcendently whispered “Salvo” (which inevitably explodes in a destructo-splatter coda). Despite the aura of general unrest, fragments of ’60s classicism somehow shine through the layers of hostility and muck. Single of the year? More like single of your lifetime.

By Jordan N. Mamone

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