- Perälä mines minimal techno on this compilation of twisted rhythms.
- If you follow Aleksi Perälä with even a cursory interest, you'll know that three things are certain in life: death, taxes and Perälä Bandcamp notifications. To call him prolific is a huge understatement. I'd wager that the worldwide promulgator of the spiritual-movement-meets-Pythagoras-rejecting tuning system, Colundi, is releasing music at a faster clip than just about anyone. I mention this as his latest vinyl release, a triple-pack collecting the best tracks from his seven-part Spectrum Analysis series, feels like something of a historical document—since he completed the series earlier this year, he has released 23 albums. That said, Spectrum Analysis is still an essential Perälä release. He turns in nearly two hours of lean and wiry dance music filled with sunspots of color that'll turn the heads of both Colundi disciples and recent converts.
But now comes the inevitable part of any article about Perälä: what, exactly, is Colundi? This is a question that has plagued producers as much as reviewers. As the Colundi Bandcamp page puts it, "We fail to reliably express our precise thoughts and intentions using words. Consequently, you may fail to understand us. We apologise for the effects of such misunderstanding."
Descriptions of Colundi, which was created in partnership with Rephlex Records cofounder Grant Wilson-Claridge, inevitably turn to the ethereal as much as the musical. As Perälä told Angus Finlyason back in 2015: "You know that feeling when you hear a really amazing song and your hairs go up on your body? Colundi is that feeling all the time."
This is a long-winded way of saying that listening is believing. If you need your hair to stand up, "FI3AC2032020" is a good place to start. It has the traces of Perälä's background in IDM, as duetting arpeggios gleam over propulsive low-end. The opening tune is a case study in how his Colundi is able to transform even the most established dance tropes. On paper it's a slice of haunted dub techno, but the toughness in the quantized crush and stagger of the low-end becomes bright—almost silly—when Perälä's signature microtonal arps and chords dash across.
My favorite parts of the record are when Perälä works with minimal techno. His template for most of the LP is fairly straightforward: chuck some techno drum programming and bass underneath a cascade of Colundi chords and arpeggios. There's something about the locked and looped rhythms of minimal that work particularly well in this format. Perälä shows restraint and economy on the ten-minute "FI3AC2030030," which unfolds its melodies over a vintage Minimal Nation-style groove. "FI3AC2031060" is another piece of minimal funk, but the snake charmer melody is a bit less Detroit and more Bar25.
The lengthy runtime does lead to a few head-scratching moments. The track order, for one, feels somewhat random, if not disorienting. I love the microhouse squidginess of the second track, but it quickly gets overshadowed once we hear the first grayscale kick of "FI3AC2030010." Perälä finds his footing around the seventh tune, slowly moving away from techno, but even in this more cogent second half, the narrative is interrupted by some of the record's best club moments, like the dub techno of "FI3AC2035050" or the party-rocking swing of "FI3AC2033060."
This is a relatively small complaint, and probably an issue of scale. Not only does Perälä release so much music that it must be a challenge to cull it into a singular narrative, he also has some fairly grandiose ideas about what he's doing musically and, well, theologically. "Colundi's like a huge sphere," he explained to Finlayson, "and then there's Christianity and Muslims and atheism and science, little bubbles [underneath it]. I can't put it any better than that." When you're writing music with the second coming in mind, it seems fair to forgive a few sequencing slips. Plus, every song on this album (including the two digital bonus tracks) feels like another essential Colundi anthem, in all the dazzling shapes, sizes and colours you'd expect.