Title - The Year The Earth Stood Still
Artist - Ari Lehtela
For those unaware, based in the state of North Carolina, Ari Lehtela is originally from Finland, truly one of the best countries in Europe when it comes to outstanding guitarists and composers.
Both a guitarist and composer as well as a master guitar builder, Ari released his West Eats Meat CD way back in 2007 and lo and behold he is back in 2021 with the self-explanatorily entitled album The Year The Earth Stood Still.
The Year The Earth Stood Still was recorded with a range of string instruments built by Ari himself. Assisting Ari on the 12-track, 56 minute CD are Tom Harling (saxophones) and Dave Bullard (drums).
Recorded, mixed and mastered by Tom Harling, The Year The Earth Stood Still is a veritable avant-garde masterpiece and the overall effect creates quite a beguiling mix of experimental instrumental music in the realm of the late great American instrument builder Harry Partch and in more recent years, U.K. born avant-garde rock guitarist Fred Frith.
2. Sight Distance
3. March Madness
6. Foot Divide
10. Conflicting Reports
11. The Year The Earth Stood Still
This crisply fresh, always inventive and highly accessible new album opens on a short Prologue before bringing us the crystalline Sight Distance, the beautiful March Madness, the short but sweet Guise, and then we get the aptly-named, near-nine minute Pandemonium, the achingly omnipresent Foot Divide and the acoustic Interlude.
Here on The Year The Earth Stood Still, Ari Lehtela renews his own musical sense of direction, playing a number of ultra-strange sounding instruments that he actually built by hand himself, with even stranger sounding instrument names such as Search Engine 1x/2x, Hybrid Tango, Long Neck Tela, shabas, sarod (an instrument from India with this model built by Ari), a setar (featured on the track Interlude but built in Turkey), along with more easy to identify instruments like bass, synth, piano, harp, percussion and more.
Phew! So, and continuing on with the music, next up is the mournful yearning of the ten-minute Blursdays which is itself followed by the bass-led, sculptured pecking of Spiral, the artistic jazz ebb and flow of Conflicting Reports, with the album rounding out on the stoic nature of The Year The Earth Stood Still, closing on a short Epilogue.
Speaking about the concept behind The Year The Earth Stood Still, Ari explains, This album was to be conceptual as opposed to a bunch of random cuts. As 2020 rolled in, and I was still cutting tracks, I made a decision to change the direction of the album to reflect what was going on in the world in that strange year.
So basically the tracks, which were nearly 100% improvised, focused on my reflections and ponderings on the narrative and reporting from both the mainstream and alternative media.
The Year The Earth Stood Still contains 12 tracks with each track reflecting the flow of the pandemic from month to month, and even day to day for that matter, in chronological order. Mind you that the improvisations were not cut in the order that they appear but rather arranged in a later stage to best reflect each month.
In closing, music fans seeking out-of-this-world sounding experimental music in 2020 will truly delight in The Year The Earth Stood Still featuring the wildly curious sounds of master guitar craftsman and sonic designer Ari Lehtela.
Amazon Digital Purchase Link
Ari Lehtela @ Facebook