Siinai - Supermarket (2014)
Toil and triumph characterised the last album from Finnish instrumental momentum rockers Siinai. Olympic Games traded exclusively and beautifully on the idea that hard work reaps great rewards, not only in the Greek tradition it celebrated, but also in the way they made the record sound. Long periods of seemingly aimless synthesiser mulch would gradually, gloriously erupt into a winners' refrain as the finish line came into sight. Time and time again, physical exertion was followed by deep relief and joy. As a dynamic template for an album, it was pretty unbeatable.
Siinai - Supermarket (2014)
Electronic, Post-Rock, Krautrock | Splendour Records
V0 | MP3 | unmixed | 2014 | 48:09 | 86 Mb
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1. En-Trance (03:00)
2. Shopping Trance (08:15)
3. Aeiouyäö (03:51)
4. Jonotus / Queue (11:29)
5. Prisma (07:05)
6. Smiling Cashier (04:55)
7. Vasikka (04:33)
8. Exit (05:02)
It's noteworthy, then, that for the album that follows it, Siinai have decided upon a synthetic hub of monotony - the supermarket. Somewhere people only go because they have to. No triumph, just toil (unless successfully beeping through vine tomatoes as salad tomatoes on the self-checkout counts as a triumph). Siinai's approach is understandably smaller and darker here, as they explore the world of the freezer aisle and that bit where they put all the broken stuff and let you have it for cheap if you're there after rush-hour. But the key thing is that they don't hate the supermarket. If anything, Siinai's supermarket is more a Vangelis consumer wonderland than a George Romero irony-fest with fat zombies clawing at the produce.
As an example of simply conjuring images with music, Supermarket is splendidly accomplished. Artificial lights seem to burn from above at all times while you listen and there are even warped, tinkling, Supermarket Sweep-style checkout noises in the keyboards on 'Smiling Cashier'. There's a dark and relentless monotony to so many of the melodies - a monotony that slows any semblance of a tune to a crawl so laborious that you won't be able to hum them to yourself. But that's the whole point, really.
It's almost impossible for music to convey that monotony without itself being monotonous, but the real challenge is in then making it interesting. Siinai manage this by folding in the occasional expertly-positioned sound detail. 'Smiling Cashier' not only features those checkout beeps, it also deploys a terrifying synthesised, repeated yelp. Is it a seal croaking? A dog barking? In my head, it's the face of the cashier smiling laconically as he laughs in slow motion, features gorily peeling from his face while he gradually slumps forward onto the conveyer belt, where nets of Babybels have started to pile up.
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