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 Review archive:  # a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

Sakset - Lahja [Ektro - 2016]

Sakset, the collaboration of Finnish sound artists Läjä Äijälä, Jussi Lehtisalo, and Tomi Leppänen, teamed up with Ektro Releases for their debut album, Lahja. Soft, haunting, and oddly smooth, Sakset's non-traditional approach allows them plenty of leeway in the electronic realm to craft something uniquely them. While there is a certain familiarity to it, it's tough to pin down, and therefore, enjoys a life all of its own.

Summoning slow, synth chords of yore, Sakset forms a solid base from which to craft their own quirky, engaging, and oddly danceable avant-electro on Lahja. While comparisons to Kraftwerk are apt, one would not be too far comparing this to more modern artists like El-P. Granted, Sakset plays it a lot slower and crispier, but there is a definite similarity to the drawn out smoothness of the progression. Although the beats get off to a wonky, almost disjointed start on "Hiljaisesti," the competing synth lines work together to elevate the song above the strange programming and clashing rhythms. Ephemeral noise bits act almost as scratches and further the hip-hop comparisons on songs like "Tyytyväinen" and "Lahja." Strange, distant, echoed vocals play further in the back than expected, and add another layer of complexity to the album. Having a cadence of their own, one feels the head nodding beat pull even harder to get one moving. Lifting the album up, songs such as "Vuosi helvetissä" and "Kirjaimiksi poltettuna" add lush, gorgeous synth lines into the mix and showcase the full scope of Sakset's mission. Whether borderline grimy and rough, or airy and fantastic, Lahja is full of tones that are guaranteed to make one smile.

Sakset's debut is a well thought out and well executed piece of electronic synthesis that would fit well into a number of different scenarios. Whether bopping around the kitchen preparing dinner, or staring out the window in contemplation, Lahja fits the bill. And, despite the "wanted poster" like picture of the band on the back, I'm willing to trust these guys with their future work.

Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5

Paul Casey
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