It gets extremely cold during the winter in Finland, yet this country has become a musical hot spot over the past few years. Pylon was one of the bands that were around before the international community was paying much attention. Now that the whole weirdo scene has taken off, a lot of interest in Pylon has started to develop. One of the best known (and one of my favorite) Finnish bands around is Avarus, and Pylon was its predecessor. Avarus members Roope Eronen and Tero Niskonen are the two that appear here. "Not Cobras" is a breathing, psychedelic beast. This album is dense in texture and atmosphere even though it's sparse in instrumentation at times.
There's a wonderful musical quality to a junkyard. Scraps of sheet metal and piles of rusted gears rubbing together create a delightful industrial orchestra. I would love to take a tape recorder to a scrap heap and just bang on shit and make music with found objects. Pylon has this junkyard quality to them. Many tracks feature tribal-romp percussion that sound straight out of the Stomp musical. It's excellent. On the third track, as the drums slam into each other in the background, a single note on a horn or flute is held for a long time while an acoustic guitar skronks along over the top. I love the plodding, circular nature of these songs. They exist in their own world, floating aimlessly toward space.
I don't think referring to Pylon as a space band is too off the mark. But it?s not because they make "space rock" per se, but because of how much scope there is in between the instruments. On many pieces, it seems as though each instrument is in its own room, recorded completely separate from the others. Then, as if by magic, they are able to aurally incorporate the physical distance between them into the recording. I feel as though I'm sitting in an open-air museum listening to this; there are paintings hanging from trees and performers acting on a green, grassy hill. Track 7 in particular feels the most wide open. A blistering horn is being blown on the other side of said hill, calling all of the children home for dinner. In another section of the park, a man bangs out sparse rhythms on a homemade drum kit. And down by the small bubbling creek, a woman dances traditional folk steps while quietly playing her flute. There's so much space between the instruments, it's almost daunting. But this gives Pylon a certain freedom. Despite it's noisy, sometimes harsh nature, this distance makes it also whimsical.
Track 1 is the most claustrophobic of the ten tracks that comprise "Not Cobras." Distorted synthesizer glides through the spiraling walls of phaser-laced drums. I love the sound of putting percussion through an effects pedal, particularly a phaser or flanger. This is the only track that could be mistaken as catchy, as the keys rise and fall in succession. What I most love about this track, and about the record in general, is that they don't stick around too long. All of them are fairly short. It gives the listener just enough time to get into it without overstaying its welcome. These songs are the perfect length.
Pylon is not for everyone. This is definitely on the psychedelic side of things, with a lot of influences coming from avant-garde and drone. But if you give it a chance and really listen, you'll be surprised at how dense these recordings are and how much there is to appreciate in them. "Not Cobras" is an essential document for those interested in experimental Finnish music, since this is one of the releases that laid the groundwork for much of what is happening today. In Pylon's world, everything echoes as we dance around a crackling fire in the forests of Tampere. 7/10 -- Brad Rose (25 May, 2005)