There's so much happening musically in Finland that it's practically a full-time job trying to keep up. But I don't mind the effort as the fruits are generally well worth the labor. Paavoharju is one of the newer names to crop up in the world of obscure Finnish music recently, but they're sure to become commonplace soon enough. With it's spazzed-out electronic leanings, "Yh? H?m?r??" simply has something for everyone. This is a great, great album.
What is truly extraordinary about "Yh? H?m?r??" are the seemingly endless number of different textures. Even more impressive is how Paavoharju mix these varying modes simultaneously, creating an intoxicating blend of natural and electronic elements. "Valo tihkuu kaiken l?pi" has equal parts acoustic guitar strums and synthesizer bursts with electronic beats. This is a narcotic for the masses. It's music created in a vacuum, unaffected by the outside world. "Valo tihkuu kaiken l?pi" is like some bizarre blend of Feathers and Land of Loops. It's excellent, and with the addition of reverb-soaked female vocals that hold the whole piece together like superglue, Paavoharju are performing on another level entirely.
The real depth of these recordings is most obvious on some of the more esoteric pieces like "Puhuri" and "On yh? h?m?r??." While the former sounds as though it was recorded in an outerspace wind chamber, the latter is a decayed church hymnal. Both, however, show a delicate touch that few bands have. Each element of these songs never seems out of place and, while the surface sounds exude chaos and confusion, there's an ethereal thread running through the foundation of these songs. Especially on "Puhuri," where multiple vocal tracks vie for attention over a bed of piano notes. There's this sense of being overwhelmed by ghosts, all of which think you are the center of their eventual salvation. It's maddening, but something unspoken reaches out at the last minute to save you from total consumption. "Puhuri" is an absolutely stunning track.
"Yh? H?m?r??" is a magnificent debut album by another great band from the great white North. Paavoharju's dense web of gurgling ambient beauty is unlike anything I've ever heard. In a world where everyone seems to be copying everybody else in some way or another, Paavoharju resist that temptation and forge ahead on their own. If this is where things in Finland are headed, I'm happy to go along for the ride. 9/10 -- Brad Rose (5 September, 2005)