Finnish visual artist and filmmaker Hannu Karjalainen's music draws inspiration from ambient, drone, modern classical and dream pop. His first album Worms In My Piano was released in 2007 on Osaka Records and the second album, Hintergarten in 2009 on Simon Scott's Kesh Recordings. A Handful Of Dust Is A Desert, his third album – and the first under his full given name - arrives after a prolonged break.
Hannu Karjalainen's association with Karaoke Kalk started with his remix of Dakota Suite's The End Of Trying Part III on The Night Just Keeps Coming In in 2009 which also featured remixes by the likes of Hauschka, Deaf Center, Loscil and many more. Now, luckily for all concerned, Hannu is releasing a full length album on the label in the form of the exquisite record A Handful Of Dust Is A Desert.
The album opens with the track Angel which is a truly heavenly composition reminiscent of Boards of Canada's finest work. The Emigrant makes effective use of sinister synth-lines and delicate glockenspiel patterns to invoke a kind of science-fiction soundtrack atmosphere. Throughout the record, our ears are graced with truly sublime sound-scapes and transcendent textures.
The title track is actually the shortest tune on the album, but in no way less evocative. It's looped piano melodies are comparable with Susumo Yokota's later recordings in their minimalism and poise. A Year In a Day continues to walk the fine line between ambient and electronica – which is one of the albums great virtues: it shows how lively and eventful ambient music can be. Certainly ambient music benefits from having a strong pulse as Karjalainen demonstrates in various tracks on the album. The song Love Is A Black Lion features a sample from the afore mentioned Dakota Suite tune The End Of Trying Part III, and therefore somehow closes a circle.
This powerfully contemplative album comes to a controlled landing with the majestic Breaks My Heart She Aria; another in a long line of mesmerizing drifts, with a floating choral voice delicately enveloped in strings and pitched percussion.
A Handful of Dust Is A Desert is instantly captivating and for lovers of ambient music, dream listening. As an artist who trained in photography and is mostly active in the world of visual art, Hannu Karjalainen clearly enjoys a great deal of creative freedom in his music. This is the kind of desert you won't mind getting lost in and even take pleasure in roaming through the expansive sonic landscapes and horizons it embodies.