REVIEW: Pihka Is My Name – Everything Is In Between

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In 2020, the Tuonela Magazine staff were introduced to something a little different: the ambient electronic/instrumental group, PIHKA IS MY NAME. Made up of Henna Helasvuo and Lasse Turunen, this musical duo released a teaser of their sound, “Binaries,” coupled with a very delightful video depicting their titular “mascot” character, Pihka. This powerful, artistic piece instantly caught our attention, leading us to enjoy several more singles, an interview, as well as their set on Camden Live’s Lockdown Streams 36th episode. Now, at long last, the independent release of “Everything Is In Between” is in sight on March 26th, 2021! Stay tuned for our interview with the band, coming soon!

Naturally, the album begins with Binaries,” which the band had already told us was the intro/opening track to the album. Its lovely, innocent soundscape – with that hint of melancholy – really sets a great pace for what is to come. The tinkling sounds and strings create a sweet and atmospheric soundscape that quickly draws the listener in. This feels storied; you know there’s more than just music happening here, especially as the disco beat – something in heavy metal that I often criticize – is put to good use to give some rhythm to the piece. With that in mind, I want to point out that even though PIHKA IS MY NAME uses a dance beat a lot of the time, it’s never boring or repetitive. These guys know what they are doing. Furthermore, the band said that they wouldn’t use lyrics, but more of a “voice” for Pihka; the way it is used is fabulous in this track as an intro for what to expect in the rest of the album to come. Off to a great start!

There’s a really interesting, almost glitchy intro to “+-,” one of the singles. This song stands out for its brilliant use of strings (cello mainly) that I absolutely can’t get enough of, making this a stand-out track on an album of stand-out tracks. These singles, incidentally, are wonderful and really add to the listening experience, so I encourage you to swing by their YouTube channel and check out the rest of the videos because they help set a scene for the music, adding a multimedia level to the sound as a whole. It’s also really lovely art that’s worth checking out on its own too!

The decision to use vocal-like parts for Pihka, as opposed to direct vocals/lyrics, really works for the band right away, already seen in songs like, “The Irresolution and The Ego.” Here, Pihka does get lyrics as she asks if you would imagine her, if you would know her name. This track is another personal highlight for its curious, observant groove and general feel, making its way onto many of my ambient playlists. This song also has some very intense fluttering sounds and a very good build-up into a song that it ultimately really funky. “Little Bubbles” has a very danceable beat for the most part, though it winds down before changing into “Assembly Out of Line,” which is a touch slower, or perhaps darker?

Another noteworthy piece is “Between the Icicle and the Flame,” for its use of one of the metal mallet percussion instruments (like xylophone, marimba, etc.), creating that icy, tinkling feeling that so suits the song’s name. “Would You Re-Imagine Me?” is a softer, sweeter, more gentle ambient piece, while environmental commentary “Digital Water,” has a darker, more echoey feel. Henna Helasvuo‘s pianos permeate throughout the album and are an ever-present element of wonder and melody. You can tell that a lot of (if not all of) these songs started out as long jam sessions where the duo found a zone together and made it work for them. It’s great to see such artistic partnerships are still blossoming! The electronica and synth parts are never at any point annoying and while there is a lot going on, it never feels like too much.

The album closes up with the title track, “Everything Is In Between,” which brings the whole experience full-circle, ending on a note that feels conclusive for the album, yet not like the end, per se. There’s a darker, deeper power to the soundscape of this track that builds up with some strings and drums to create a very nice climax and ultimately conclusion to the whole album, leaving the listener feeling good, yet wanting more.

“Everything is in Between” is a breath of fresh air in the music scene, perfect to bring in your spring 2021 – with something lighthearted, sweet, and powerful. This is an easy recommendation for fans of electronica/EDM, ambient/atmospheric music, pop music, fantasy, concept albums, and more. In fact, I’ll just blanket recommend this album in the hopes that you enjoy it as much as I do! I hope to hear much, much more from this band in the future!

Tracklist

  1. Binaries
  2. +-
  3. The Irresolution and The Ego
  4. Little Bubbles
  5. Assembly Out of Line
  6. Would You Re-Imagine Me?
  7. Between the Icicle and the Flame
  8. Digital Water
  9. Algorithm and Blues
  10. Everything Is In Between

Lineup

Henna Helasvuo

Lasse Turunen

Art by Elli Maanpää

Label

Independent

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