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Avarus - Ruskeatimantti

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Artist: Avarus

Album: Ruskeatimantti

Label: Tumult

Review date: Mar. 28, 2005

Ruskeatimantti is colossal: a double shell combed through the Finnish underbrush gathering select nuggets of its mainstay alchemic enchanters, Avarus. Rooted in the apparently like-minded and humanly linked collectives Kemialliset Ystävät and Anaksimandros, Avarus has been the first of the clan, outside of their damning behemoth-countrymen Circle, to get a few toes clipped in U.S. mind-soil. For those who have been unable to keep tabs on Avarus' missives since their birth in 2001, this collection is the perfect primer. Tumult has brought us a stunning assembly of Avarus' first tasty batches that were originally served in blink-and-their-gone editions: four CD-Rs and one 7" whose original pressings totaled a mere 750 copies.

Aware or not, this near-anonymous septet follow a lineage that seems to ricochet from Philemon Arthur and the Dung to Terry Riley's time-lag to Godz to planet Earth's inner chakra. Avarus' vicissitude consists of liquid rhythms filling the cracks between surface clatter and scrawl, flowing along the brink of pre-articulated titanic constructions. In short, Avarus are a heavy trip.

Two of the Finnish Lal Lal Lal label's Avarus CD-Rs, Posum Ekor Kait Dataran and Horuksen Keskimmaisen Silmän Mysteerikoulu make up the first disc. The two track Posum opens with "Horuksen Vasemman Silmän Mysteerikoulu," a dazzling sundial of four interlocking parts and wispy nods to the group's keystone ingredients: rusty, gaggling electronics, hovering background drones, and a drummer-less clatter of sticks and cans. A lofty, leading flute surges with glee and the third-eye vibe burns sweetly. The second piece, "Horuksen Oikean Silmän Mysteerikoulu," validates the entire reissue. Avarus’ wayward groove juxtaposes carnival culture and druid sacrifice, enough to feed on for days. At the end, a toothy acoustic riff melts its own harmonic head.

Avarus are adept at knowing when to switch gears, and do so across these two disks with a regularity that speaks to the group's eerie sense of economics and space. Pieces never bore, yet simmer enough for higher states of consciousness to slowly develop.

Surprisingly, Avarus flare just as brightly in short form. Lonnon Ilmioita 7" works just as well as the four-part Maximum Highway Lifestyle or the 23-minute kraut collection closer “A-V-P.” The single’s two pieces start out as base rave-ups, then intensely multiply with spectrums of tumble haze, beads and enough low-end quake to rattle the forest floors. "Sataa Nuuskaa" is a wallop of Ege Bamyasi-funk that also introduces some sawing Finnish fiddle that feels indebted to mid-’70s Billy Bang.

Horuksen Keskimmaisen Silman Mysteerikoulu is a 12-piece EP from 2001. Its subtle introduction expands upon branch rustling, plodding percussion and late-night campfire melodies. One of Avarus' strongest abilities is to create the air of ceremony and ritual, not unlike Paul Giovanni's compositions. Throughout Horuksen spirits are summed, sent back, and dance lustfully in a primitive canopy. The smoldering jazz whiff of "Eno Muista Mua" has a belt low enough for the tree dwellers to shake the cone loose but still holds up the song. And "Salaperainen Imjarvi" also meshes a jazzbo know and tight folk structure, a tender rendering of form that encompasses all Avarus' work.

The cover art and photos on this condensed package mirror a few of the original releases and are either pretty dazzling or a summer camp counselor’s staff photo. The only misstep here is the lack of information on the group: the inverted pyramid. A tidy paragraph from the Tumult Overlord or a Finish smartie could've placed a little context to the collection. Nonetheless, Ruskeatimantti is a beacon of the Finnish underground, a starting point for both the listener and Avarus.

By Eric Weddle

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