Accompanying Valo Siroutuu is a book filled with drawings, pictures, lyrics, and recollections of the experience making one of the year’s most enchanting collaborative records. In it, Sontag Shogun’s Jeremy Young writes, “There’s improvisation. And there’s communion.” Valo Siroutuu (‘The Light Scatters’ in English), was principally recorded on the island of Kimitoön, Finland in 2019. Throughout this warm, engaging aural universe, a forgotten world is unlocked and the togetherness felt throughout Valo Siroutuu merges with ancestral energy to light a new path ahead.
Valo Siroutuu is alive. Beyond the lilting soundscapes and hushed vocals, the sound of children playing, obscured conversations, or scratchy footsteps are the living, breathing tendrils spreading into infinite directions. Questions become assertions; conjectures become memories. “What will it be like when it gets too late?” Jesse Perlstein asks in the translucent layers of “On Perceiving Time.” Lau Nau hovers in the background, a specter remembering her full form as her voice beams in like shards of moonlight spreading across the lush string and piano arrangement. Inhabiting the island, the music casts its own shadow across the landscape.
The way Valo Siroutuu springs from spacious, emotive sonic environments to intimate vignettes adds to the feeling that this is a sprawling life story; the narrative of a place through time. “Kuiskaan Itseleni” begins with bubbling modular synthesizer and acoustic guitar laying a latticework of aural mycelium that spreads wildly into verdant swathes. Lau Nau’s voice flickers, breaking off pieces of the primordial web so that the distant path can drift forward, becoming ingrained in the sounds of tomorrow. Piano chords hold pensive glances skyward on wistful clouds so the gilded streams below can overflow and saturate every facet of this place. Cathartic and reflective, it’s also a reminder of the interconnective nature we all share at the source; the grandeur buoyed by whispered acuity.
If the title track is like this shrouded, glowing figure floating above the world on the darkest night, a reminder of tomorrow’s inevitability, then “Suddenly, This Darkness Comes Over Your Face” is the feeling of embracing that certainty. Upward arpeggios gleam against the starlit sky as a quick, simple rhythm drives the song onward. Wordless vocals meander between constellations as the song’s title is repeated as a reassuring mantra. This is the celebration and “On Perceiving Time” is a remembrance. “What can we be as it falls away?” Perlstein sings, reaching higher as the music builds into monuments and we all come apart, dispersing into the ether so we can come around and come together again.
Valo Siroutuu is a collaboration for the ages. Spread across minutes as easy as millennia, Lau Nau and Sontag Shogun tapped into something special on that island. There’s a rare magic that can happen in the world when the moment is right and stars align. This group of innately talented musicians found that clarity and let it circulate through each note. The results speak for themselves. Valo Siroutuu is stunning.