Tuonela (soundcloud, bandcamp), a sound artist and self-described “primitive musician” out of Katoomba, Australia makes sounds using “very basic software.” With no synthesizers and “no idea how Ableton works,” he produces and processes wonderful sounds, and for someone so prolific, his work still exhibits no sameness, jumping across modes and always somehow making the “epic” look, well, effortless. At the same time, Tuonela has a singular style, one that offers transcendence and earthiness all at once.
Tuonela created and yesterday alerted me to the remix posted above of my January 2015 Disquiet Junto ice challenge contribution, and as expected, he found hidden spaces and mysteries and narrative in my track that I never thought existed.
We connected a couple years ago through the Disquiet Junto, from whence have come many of my most interesting musical nodes these days. The sheer volume and unwavering quality of his output have become welcome additions to my feed. I can’t keep up, but that’s ok, because fate has intervened often enough to create a bond. Early on in our interactions, Tuonela’s heartfelt enthusiasm for my stock-and-trade rock ‘n roll was a catalyst for me to continue experimenting with the challenges in the Junto and exploring my nascent fluxus-driven ambitions.
No doubt his eschewing of Abelton and, for that matter, most of the emerging tools of sampling-era electronica, contribute to the accessibility of his work (at least to this 20th century relic author). Make no mistake, this is digital art, but of the type that peels itself back to reveal some of the human hand. No algorithms (or any number of monkeys at typewriters) left to their own devices would take us on his journeys or arrive us at his destinations.
Tuonela less writes “songs” and more creates “landscapes.” Valley Suite, a July 2014 release “sonically inspired by the majesty and mystery” of his Katoomba, Australia home and the surrounding Blue Mountain Range, is ancestral, modern, celebratory, cerebral and expansive all at once. The closing track, Megalong Morning, is 15-minutes of restrained and meditative drone, a wonderful reflection of the peace found at the summit of a rock climb, perhaps, or that sense of awe at the edge of your own land’s Grand Canyon:
The Valley Suite record falls in with my own predilection for Tuonela’s quieter side. His contribution to the Junto’s sonicvoid challenge to soundtrack a silent film was a highlight for me in that collection of contributions:
And the titles of his tracks are their own font of inspiration.