For me, Waste Of Space Orchestra have been one of the most intriguing prospects of recent years, even before any musical output came from this collection of twisted Finnish minds. Initially commissioned to play the prestigious Roadburn Festival in 2018, they are a unique collaboration that merges the members of Oranssi Pazuzu and Dark Buddha Rising, two of Finland’s finest and most exploratory progressive bands around. The coupling is one that truly manages to capture both band’s styles, combining the psychedelic effects-laden black metal of Oranssi Pazuzu with the heavy hypnotic riffs and rhythm of Dark Buddha Rising, and the result is as fascinating and mesmerising as fans of both bands might expect. The whole truly becomes greater than the sum of it’s parts.
I was lucky enough to be present at the Roadburn performance, and whilst I remember mind-bending magnificence as all ten members took the stage to produce an intense audial bliss, silhouettes against colourful psychedelic visuals, in all honesty I’ve always struggled to remember specifics from the set. It was a moment in time, something akin to a dream, where vague outlines of concepts and structures could be seen in memories, but never properly outlined and always irreproducible. So the announcement of a studio recorded recreation and release of the project was met with great fervour from me, and much anticipation.
The album’s concept is part of it’s unique appeal, and is something I’m still trying to properly interpret and comprehend fully. The three singers or voices are given characters; The Shaman (Vesa Ajomo) who is seeing oppressing visions from the bleak future of mankind, The Seeker (Juho Vanhanen) who is searching for the truth from unknown dimensions with secret methods, and The Possessor (Marko Neuman) who corrupts the other individuals, manipulating them into his own sinister plan. The tracks tell a tale of their search for knowledge, and of a ceremony leading to the opening of a portal to another dimension, where they become one singular consciousness. The lyrics seem to be a mix of both Finnish and English, which leaves the full story somewhat unknown to me, but even the track titles themselves tell an evocative outline, and the concepts presented in each are very obviously considered in the construction of the songs.
These overarching sci-fi themes and otherworldly impressions are wonderfully captured in the music throughout. There are moments of ferocious intensity and warped vocals, juxtaposed with quieter passages of meandering bass lines and electronic experimentation reminiscent of film soundtracks. Something that strikes me though, is that even between the eccentric soundscapes and atmospheres, they still manage to involve outstanding riffs, moments of pure metallic heaviness with such great force as to gravitate one towards unavoidable gesticulation.
It should be obvious at this stage my opinions on the sheer quality of this album; it is truly distinctive, endlessly enjoyable, an utterly intense artistic masterpiece. But I also want to explore it’s themes further; to possibly misinterpret ideas, both purposefully and more likely not. All good music and art has the potency to become personally relatable, to mesh with your own thoughts and conjure a unique experience.
The notion of three distinct parts being or indeed becoming one is nothing new, but how their described individual aspects relate and overlap is always thought provoking. Initially my memories were taken to one of Asimov’s works; The Gods Themselves, where the energetic beings of a parallel universe form triads of rationals, emotionals and parentals; requiring each other in order to “melt” together and procreate. But there was something in the supporting text that made me consider more the ideas of art and the different roles it plays within our minds. The dimensional destination in Syntheosis is described as being “populated by brain-mutilating colour storms and ego-diminishing audio violence”, and it is here our three characters find coalescence, even as a necessity. It’s easy for me to interpret this place as being representative of music, particularly that of the more extreme and progressive genres that are vital predecessors to albums such as this one. The characters could then be considered different perspectives in my mind, different approaches to how music can be enjoyed and absorbed.
Expanding upon this it’s suggestive to me that The Shaman’s bleak visions of the future are ones of artistic extinction and the realistic ending of integrity that can be seen too often. Despite being evocative of magic, it’s a depressing part of the triad, one of nihilistic realism. The Seeker therefore becomes the optimist, the part that searches for answers to this, in the “unknown dimensions” of the musical and artistic underground, using “secret methods” found in the avant-garde and progressive reaches of these areas. Which leaves us with The Possessor, manipulative and corruptive, perhaps the most intriguing and in need of awakening. Music and art are always about escapism to me, transcending and experiencing the indescribable, and perhaps that plan could be considered sinister; it is one that can be distracting or even debilitating, to be so removed from reality. But when all are balanced into a collective consciousness, when the gate is opened and all is seen, this new reality could be considered home. Music (and indeed all art) becomes the question, the answer and the all in between; the enhancer and the diminisher, the provocateur and the appeaser, the meaning.
Release Date: 5th April2019
Label: Svart Records
Buy Album: from Svart Records