It’s a hell of a sprawl, but there’s something about the complexity of the atmosphere created by Finnish heavy epic space purveyors Mr. Peter Hayden (named not for any member of the band) on their Winter Records/Post-RBMM full-length that not only holds interest, but envelops it. The album, dubbed Faster Than Speed and centered thematically on astrophysical notions on the nature of time, is comprised of two 33-minute songs – complete ideas in and of themselves – but where Mr. Peter Hayden really stand apart is in the construction and arrangement of their material. Grandiose heavy psych excursions are nothing new, even with the elements of metallic crunch that the Kankaanpää six-piece incorporate, but where many of their center-galaxy-bound peers fill their extended track lengths with heady jamming and an improve feel – nothing against it, it works wonderfully when done well – Mr. Peter Hayden don’t lose sight of song structure no matter how far out they go. That’s not to say that either “Smoke in Space” or “Delta t=0” feel overly composed or somehow contrived, just that there’s a charted course the players are following.
“Smoke in Space” begins its long journey literally from silence. The track is a long groundswell built on post-rock churn and brought to cohesiveness with the creative drumming of M. Marjamäki. S. Kuosmanen’s synth begins first, and gradually the rest of the unit joins in. This section of the song is essential in setting the atmosphere, and by that I mean that the song puts you in the world Mr. Peter Hayden are creating, so that you know what to expect in terms of pace and level of execution. It’s this quiet beginning and ultra-patient build – you could argue it lasts for 22 of the song’s total 33 minutes, though there are ebbs and flows within that time – that keep Faster Than Speed from losing the listener, since as you take on the album, you know right from the start that the ambience in which you’re embroiled is central to the music. You’re not waiting for the song to start, in other words. J.P. Koivisto and V. Vatanen, who join Kuosmanen on guitar, add some of the aforementioned metallic crunch, while bassist L. Kivelä thickens out the sound and keeps “Smoke in Space” from coming off as too tonally skeletal and the added percussion T. Santamaa, though featured more on “Delta t=0,” adds rhythmic flourish. The several shifts from loud to quiet feel natural and show admirable restraint on the part of Mr. Peter Hayden collectively, but like the entirety of Faster Than Speed, keep a natural, live feel that does best services the track’s presentation.
A whopping 33 seconds shorter than “Smoke in Space” – thus clocking in at 33 minutes even – “Delta t=0” is ostensibly the “heavier” of the two songs, though neither is lacking in either sonic heft or thematic weight. Named for a temporal equation that is more complicated than I have either the space or the understanding to explain, “Delta t=0” begins with a likewise patient build, though shorter and led by the guitars, and is centered around a chugging, off-time riff that returns throughout the piece. Vatanen’s sax features throughout and adds to the otherworldliness of the Koivisto and Kuosmanen’s guitars, and more even than the drums or percussion, it’s Kivelä’s bass reminding the other members of the band there’s a structure beneath what they’re doing. It’s a great balance between open jamming and constructed arrangement that Mr. Peter Hayden strikes, and the music loses none of its edge for the occasional scripted turn taken. Once it locks in its guitar groove, “Delta t=0” proves a visionary kind of work, effectively creating its own kind of space metal from established genre components, and as a massive volume swell reaches its apex after the 25-minute mark – Marjamäki’s cymbals only adding to the cacophony – the brilliance of the return to that same riff is a highlight of song and album alike.
The subtle guitar melody that becomes more prominent in the later moments of “Delta t=0” speaks to the dynamics at play in Mr. Peter Hayden’s first album, though one need go no farther than Faster Than Speed’s beautiful fold-out CD packaging to know that the band are serious about what they do. Between their space and sub-stoner elements, their heavier low end and percussive range, Mr. Peter Hayden offer a richness of sound that goes beyond what’s captured here on tape. They’re reportedly been at it for 10 years now (a split here, an EP there), but Faster Than Speed is still very much a debut in terms of how much potential it holds. If they can manage to round out the production more without sacrificing the organic feel, even while remaining almost entirely vocal-less as they are here, they could genuinely push the bounds of any number of genres, whichever you’d like to place them in. It’s a rare thing for a debut to sound so unique, but the time Mr. Peter Hayden have put into developing their style comes through these two songs almost as loud as the music itself.
Tags: Finland, Kankaanpää, Mr. Peter Hayden, Post-RBMM, Winter Records