Strange Encounters….Of A Pop Music Kind

Husky Rescue is a band not many Americans are familiar with. They’re from Finland. Their lead singer was replaced halfway through their career. And they haven’t released an album since 2012. While most of their music deals with ambient pop mash-ups, Ship of Light, released in 2010, takes it a step further, adding a supernatural element to their music. Ship of Light shifts its focus from soft, sun-drenched, sounds to the downright eerie. The title makes this obvious. Something out of the ordinary is going on, something out of this world, even. The album starts with “First Call,” an instrumental track that evokes the opening of a David Lynch film. From there, the whispery voice of Reeta-Leena sings “Sound of Love,” and “Fast Lane.” Her vocals are effortless, breathy, and lilting. That is, until the background vocals kick in. When they do, the music begins to take on a warped quality. Omnipresent and chilling, the melody sounds like a ghost story being sung.

Credit: The Line Of Best Fit

Most of the tracks use lyrics sparingly. The phrases are terse, repetitive, and menacing. “Man of Stone” and  “Beautiful My Monster” do this particularly well. The repetition of their choruses, though never modulating a key, seem to transform. With additional layers of vocals and echoes they feel transcendently creepy. “Wolf Trap Motel” might be the the best example. The song meanders for a while before listeners are greeted by the false cheeriness of “We welcome you to Wolf Trap Motel/So this will be your home and shelter.” The listeners are told they can leave at any time. Repeatedly. So what’s the catch? “When Time Was On Their Side” uses this same repetition, asking listeners to wait, over and over, turning the phrase into a plea. By the time you listen to “They’re Coming” and hear: “Run down to cornfields, concealed/I set signs, four circles of fire/They come/A white ship landing after a red ship” it all starts to make sense. The whole album is about (hold my coffee, Scully): Aliens.

To no surprise, the album was originally inspired by a UFO sighting near band member Marko Nyberg’s house. Part of the album was also record in Lake Bodom, a city known for murder and disappearances. Some tracks were recorded while Leena sang upside down on an iron bed. As weird as it sounds, the influence is there. Sure, you don’t need to actually record on a spaceship for there to be authenticity, but they got pretty close. The crackles and murmurs in the back of mixes transfer over, too. With all the crackles and murmurs, atmospherically, the music is as otherworldly as its lyrics. The icy texture of the bells. The buzzing and whirls of synthesizers. Drums sound like marches at times, approaching and withdrawing, signaling fight, or flight.

Credit: Robin Murray

Conceptually, it seems the album is telling the story of an alien invasion, before and after. However, the Sci-Fi elements of the album never feel forced. They work with the music, are organic and elemental. There are parts of the story I feel like I don’t understand, parts I feel like I was never meant to know, parts that, left up to the listener’s imagination, are both wonderful and horrible in their vagueness. Is this about a group running from aliens? Are aliens telling the story and we’re the people they’re afraid of? Sometimes it sounds like we’re hearing both sides, a tug of war, the last journal entry before battle. Maybe that’s what makes it so engaging. On each listen I find another story within the music, narration that wasn’t there before. Regardless, there’s something undeniably aural about the music. It evokes the Northern Lights. Bright and cold, the music shifts, leaving listeners with a sense of uneasy awe. Ship of Light is the perfect album to play on a still, dark, night…only to realize the stars outside your window are a lot closer than they once appeared.