Conditions Of Acrimony
Cassette HMS036

Heathen Harvest

April 2016

Prior to my experience with Conditions of Acrimony, I knew Ester Kärkkäinen only for her visual contribution to Jim Haynes‘ Scarlet and Sigtryggur Berg Sigmarsson‘s So Long, so it was certainly exciting to discover this first album as Himukalt. This album gave me the chance to explore the sonic creativity of an artist who I knew only in a completely different medium. Actually, ‘knew’ is a pretty fictional term when it comes down to this artist, because not even her label, the Helen Scarsdale Agency, knows more about the artist. As stated on the website, ‘The given name we know is Ester Kärkkäinen, and that’s pretty much about her beyond the Nevada return address’. Yet, anonymity has never been an obstacle to perceiving post-industrial music; actually, in my experience, it’s been quite the contrary.

First of all, let me point out that after the calm heaviness of Grant Evans‘ Brittle, it was great to be brought to the extremes of noise that Helen Scarsdale has to offer. I’ve always been very interested in the qualities of muffled, unrecognisable voices that surround my daily existence and routine, and Conditions of Acrimony carried a bit of that. Yes, the vocals here are somewhat of a leitmotif, but they are harshly effected and quickly become a texture, a twisted rhythmic structure, or a simple sonic detail that has nothing to do with inter-human communication present elsewhere on the album. Meaning doesn’t play a role here—it’s all about the abstract interpretation of vocal timbre, pitch, and tempo. The loss of language confuses the perception of voice and contributes to the sense of introverted chaos that Conditions of Acrimony attempts to portray. There’s a lot of pain hidden in the album—a pain that pleads to be exposed and not cured. The same idea goes for all of the other emotions that Conditions of Acrimony manages to convey. The sound is a body that needs no salvation and no help—just a sort of perverse exhibitionism of emotional exhaustion and damage. I’d call Himukalt’s debut a mixture of noise, power electronics, and post-industrial. However, what’s different here is the volume of the record. Compared to most of the pieces I’ve heard in the genre, Conditions of Acrimony is decidedly more subtle and quiet, which acts as a barrier between the album’s audience and the observed subject. The lower volume is like a glass ceiling surrounding an exhibit. It isn’t sufficient enough to hide it completely or isolate it visually; it only slightly deforms what it contains and reveals that you can’t grasp it in that moment of conscious voyeurism. If diseases could be put on tape, this would be the sound of that process. -- Angel S.