IRKLIS – Onkalo [STURM]

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IRKLIS is a project with a much longer trajectory than its own name and with a constant process of development. In its more than 30 years of history, this band has changed its name several times and has continuously regenerated itself according to the times, the circumstances and the influences that could appear at any given moment. But even so, none of these metamorphoses has changed their philosophy and their relationship between their understanding of music and its link to other external concepts such as literary references or scientific arguments.

Originally, Roman Alexander Brüning and Aleksandrs Olgerts Berzins founded the band in 1988 as Formā Anonym. In 1992, with the addition of Robin Brüning and Kai Franke, they changed their name to Audioscope, and in 1997 they changed the name of the band to Studio KHz. IRKLIS was born with renewed ideas but without Kai Franke as a member of the band.

Nowadays IRKLIS has recovered the industrial and analogue sound of their previous stage. Their most recent work, Onkalo, lends its name from a Finnish word that describes a den for animals, but this name is also the name given to the nuclear waste dump located in Eurajoki (Finland) 500 metres underground, a horrible inheritance that we leave on this planet and to our future generations.

Onkalo is the fourth album by IRKLIS. The 11-track opens with Landfall, an astonishing blend of the band’s evolving ingenuity, as its opening bars augur an eroded and inhospitable landscape, but everything changes when a surprisingly organic bass line and drums appear. Omen is a cut with a post-industrial feel, with a rough and rather primitive percussive part, ideal to accompany a set of synthesizer lines that respond perfectly to this sonorous temporality, with a bass game with a wavering modulation and a ceremonial melodic part that takes over the whole panoramic range when it appears. With Pale, IRKLIS manages to perpetuate this post-industrial image with an electronic sound more typical of genres such as electro, but, perfectly reconducted to his usual style, in addition, the vocals that he includes promote both its industrial aspect and a mystical and ritualistic appearance. Fahrt ins Ungewisse takes you into a bubble, it makes you levitate, it accompanies you on the journey you experience when you leave the suffering of life and move to a pleasant place where there are no problems, no pain, no bad vibes, its melody and all its harmonic environment show fragility, serenity and confidence.

Zintis izzüd is a cut that combines the dynamism of a binary rhythm, with electrifying textures and a melodic background that manages to lower the tension of the track, a perfect mixture in which the constant changes show the creativity and the capacity of these musicians not to settle in a uniform context. Shine is a curious mixture of styles such as indie or gothic, which exhibits two completely distanced behaviours such as the degraded sound of the voice or some synthesizer lines, and the clear sound offered by the drums and other melodic elements. Asche is radioactive, pervasive, dark and gloomy, but even so, in this bleak underworld there is a small outbreak of beauty and optimism embodied by a few piano notes. Circles is full of musicality, starting with an arpeggiated background accompanied by fuzzy vocals, backing vocals, pads and again beautiful piano articulations.

Overthrown, the ninth track on Onkalo, is a straightforward piece, with a binary metric, a marked kick and various percussive elements continuously accompanying the rhythmic part, with an acid bass and a strummed vocal. Into Eternity presents a marked break, with an element that is quite reminiscent of the scratch used in the first productions of this genre, but much more updated and obviating that it is just another complement, as this cut is very rich in nuances. Onkalo closes with the track of the same name, an emotive cut that clearly details the end of this work and also a possible end of our species and our planet, symbolising the emptiness that these copper capsules may cause in the future.

Release date: February 28th, 2021.

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