Kolhoosi 13 – Politbyro

bandcamp, 2013

Mixing elements of post-industrial noise with synthetic soundscapes, Finnish duo Kolhoosi 13 presents their self-released debut, Politbyro. On their project’s bandcamp page, Juho Lepistö and Niko Salakka declare that Kolhoosi 13 “delves deep into the past of The East.” Such a statement might sound familiar to fans of dark ambient, as many notable projects – Muslimgauze, Herbst9, m2, etc – draw inspiration from a similar concept. However, upon listening to Politbyro, it would seem that Kolhoosi 13 has also adopted details from elsewhere.

Those who follow the genre will notice similarities here: the shaped noise of Sleep Research Facility, the brooding atmosphere of Kammarheit, the somber grace of Kave. Those are fine acts to follow, of course, and Kolhoosi 13 has done a fine job. But while tracks like “Valuma-alue” and “Syvyys” might sound a bit too close to their muses, Kolhoosi 13 slowly begins to inject sparks of jagged noise and harsh passages of distortion.

“Aivolaboratorio 74” and “Sillo” are examples of this; where the ambiance is punctuated by sudden bursts of static and the snarl of grinding metal. It’s here where the Eastern muse becomes a little distant and modern post-industrial factory wastelands rise to the album’s surface. This shift in sound design gives Politbyro some variety, at the cost of some consistency.

At almost sixteen minutes, “Sarkofagi” is easily the album’s longest track, and is a centerpiece that hints at the project’s potential. Moving from earsplitting whines to passages of near silence and back again in organic waves, the track is a showcase for how Lepistö and Salakka grasp their muses as well as their machines. “Virastokompleski numero 104” is its equal, a work of cohesive vision built upon a wonderfully cavernous sense of space, enhanced by buzzing sampled speech and what appears to be the distorted sound of an old-fashioned typewriter. Moments such as these elevate Politbyro beyond a mere shadow project, fashioning its own peculiar and effective identity.

With such a promising debut, it’s no wonder that Kolhoosi 13 was snapped up by Cryo Chamber for its follow-up album, Monuments of Power. While that album is quite an impressive developmental leap for the duo, the growth process began here, with Politbyro, a well-executed collection of ambient experimentation containing seeds of what was to come.