** 200 copies ** Oiro Pena moves out of the bedroom. I, like many others I’m sure, was very much blown away after hearing the first Oiro Pena 10” released by Ultraääni in 2019. From where did this Finnish flute phantasm appear? Part of the fun was the mystery of it all, the not quite grasping or understanding the music, or where it came from. The second 10” on Jazzaggression felt like a deeper dive into the Pena universe. With 2020’s Music from Moments on 2 Headed Deer we finally got the origin story. It was very easy to fall for these bedroom recordings of lo-fi spiritual jazz. Last year rumours started spreading about live performances with a full band, which made me curious, what direction would Oiro Pena take next?
For this record Oiro Pena has taken the shape of a quartet, moving out of the bedroom into more traditional jazz territory. The previous shorter compositions are replaced with a long jam, cut across both sides of the LP. A bold leap one might think, but the band pulls it off! The intimacy and folky introspection of the earlier records is pushed aside for the raw energy of four musicians working together in a room.
At the centre of it all is Vauhkonens drumming, driving the band forward, with further rhythmic stability added by the upright bass of Philip Holm. Some space is provided via the airy chords of Staffan Södergård’s piano, while Johannes Sarjasto’s saxophone growls, snarls and howls on top of it all. Towards the middle of the b-side we get a little breather where the session cools down to a suggestive part with bowed upright bass and almost tribal drumming. Cooper’s Test is a daring statement from musicians willing to take risks. The flutes will be lovingly remembered, but it will always be exciting to see where the future takes Oiro Pena!