Music Review | posted 23.10.2021
Ka Baird & Pekka Airaksinen
FRKWYS Volume 17: Hungry Shells
RVNG intl, 2021
Text Kristoffer Cornils
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Cover Ka Baird & Pekka Airaksinen - FRKWYS Volume 17: Hungry Shells

It has been over two years since Pekka Airaksinen passed away and since then little attention has been paid to the legacy of The Sperm founder. The recent announcement of a collaboration between him and Ka Baird on RVNG Intl.‘s FRKWYS came as a surprise. The US American voice performer and body musician and the Finnish composer started working together in 2018 for a a joint performance at the Dutch festival Le Guess Who? by going on walks, meditating together and using Buddhist parables that had come to Airaksinen in a dream as the foundation for the lyrics – not at all a surprising beginning for what would eventually end up as a FRKWYS release. A title like »Syzygy (For Pekka)« alone points to the fact that Baird had to finish the recordings herself, but the music is still clearly marked by the esoteric-avant-garde signature sound of her late partner. Whereas Baird’s albums such as »Respires« drew on a spartanic sound design for maximum physical impact, “Hungry Shells” is sometimes comparable to her solo releases in terms of effect, but considerably more dense in regards to what is happening beyond her vocal gymnastics. »Grey Body« calls to mind the death industrial-leaning releases of the Schimpfluch family, while »Parallax« recalls early electronic music and the album closer, the ten-minute title track, sounds as if Iannis Xenakis, György Ligeti and Aube had written it together after a long night out. Only up to a certain point, that is, because the bouncing rhythms towards the end of the piece take Baird and Airaksinen back to unfamiliar territory they had already entered before with »Syzygy (For Pekka)« or »Roseclouds«: pop music, or at least a very idiosyncratic version of it. That some parts on »Hungry Shells« give off that impression is perhaps due to Baird’s comparatively disciplined vocal performance. At times she even sings quite conventional melodies and only experiments with electronic manipulations of her voice, mostly layering it for greater effect while leaving the underlying structures of the pieces untouched. It almost seems as if she is deliberately holding back in order not to take away Airaksinen’s place in the spotlight. That, after all, was rarely directed at him even after his death.

Please find »FRKWYS Volume 17: Hungry Shells« by Ka Baird & Pekka Airaksinen in the webshop of HHV Records: Vinyl LP
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