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Arttu Silvast (Finland) – Surface (EP)

In yet another example of tempus’ ability to fugit, it staggered me to discover that the minimalist indie ambient-classical composer and multi-instrumentalist Arttu Silvast last paid us a visit in December 2021. I was certain it was only a few months ago.

Anyway, when he did he was promoting his EP ‘A Comforting Theory of Life’, which was an ambient soundtrack for a podcast, ‘Pekka Sauri’s Comforting Theory of Life’, which he produced with said Pekka, who is a well-known public figure in Finland, a politician and psychologist who hosted a radio show called ‘Yölinjalla’ (‘On the nightline’) tasked with comforting and solving callers’ worries and problems during the night on the radio. A sort of agony uncle, Finnish style.

That soundtrack would, by necessity, have to be comforting. Arttu found that the end result was so comforting that the music was worth a solo release even though a couple of the tracks were a little gloomier than I‘d expected.

I noted his ability to assuage my angst in the way Holly Herndon does on her intensely psychological track ‘Lonely at the Top.’

Now Arttu returns with another ambient and “cinematic” to use his own words EP, a five-track one entitled ‘Surface’.

I’m having to work a little in the dark on this one because Arttu has released little detail on the EP. All I know is that “he dives deeper still into the realms of ambient music and harmonic soundscapes” on it.

There is no underlying theme lyrically because he doesn’t write any. Both the product and its benefits arise out to his ability to create a tranquil atmosphere through electronic wizardry, like Jean-Michel Jarre on valium, and he is a master of it.

Titularly, the theme seems to revolve around a scene before and after rain and the contentment he feels afterwards although there is little to hang your hat on in that observation.

The way he does it musically is fascinating, by way of the lingering drone notes of the first track, ‘Before it rains’, and the simulated metal rain falling on a tin box and the ‘six tones’ that might be played when Man meets Alien again in a sequel to Close Encounters of the Third Kind in ‘The surface’.

Then in ‘A midday mirage’ a synthesiser arrangement that sounds like massed harps while ‘After the rain’ is more like a requiem and reminiscent of the track ‘On the nightline’ on his previous EP. For ‘After the rain’ read ‘after the battle.’

And finally, in ‘Contentment’ you could be wandering in the Elysian Fields, searching for the souls of lost heroes. Hand on heart this is possibly the most beautiful piece of new music I have heard all year.

Arttu transports you into ‘Space’ in every track, or perhaps to the ocean floor, as is you wish; every nuance is catered for.

I think I may have made this analogy before, in a different context. At the Manchester International Festival in 2019 there was an exhibition by Laurie Anderson, ‘To the Moon’, a virtual reality experience that was a lunar expedition followed by an interstellar one. You were literally walking in space.

I can only vaguely remember the accompanying music but it was eerily similar to this EP.

Now that’s not a bad recommendation, is it?                                    


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