Mika Taanila - Stimulus Progression 10“ 26479
[Apparent Extent]

Mika Taanila - Stimulus Progression 10“ 26479
Eleven field recordings of some of the last remaining MUZAK sound-systems operating in Helsinki, Finland. Recorded in public locations, such as restaurants, malls and parking garages by local film-maker/artist Mika Taanila. These sonic snapshots – ”films without film” – can be seen as a dry contemporary film-take, a variation on the "city symphony” genre in the documentary film tradition.

"For those who care to listen closely, Taanila’s project offers subtle musical scents that waft out from the rustle of commuters and crowds: a haunting acoustic guitar meets a delicate dusting of ivories, some perky yet gentle rhythms stimulate the mid-day slump, and a lulling string arrangement of “Darling, Je Vous Aime Beaucoup” blends with bird chirps. At one point, angelic voices accompany a version of the early 1960s instrumental favorite “Our Winter Love,” characterizing what used to play on America’s once-popular easy-listening instrumental FM channels.

But here, the indoor echoes and airy arrangements do not product the smooth, seamless effect that Muzak and the easy-listening radio formats sought in their transmissions. This collection is, in fact, downright impish. In attempting to capture a diaphanous elevator music setting, Taanila is like a spirit photographer whose snapshots might expose a paranormal shape or two but whose composition becomes cluttered by such mundane detritus as falling objects, broken dishes, moving furniture, indecipherable chatter, and the bedlam of crying children. Thus captured in the jingle-jangle echoes of daily life, the music is all the more ghostly, especially towards the end, when Taanila and his engineers engage in some distortion that lures us into what I like to call elevator noir."