Petri Kuljuntausta



1. Canvas [1999] 10:18

2. Violin Tone Orchestra [1996] 4:33

3. Four Notes [2001] 7:33

4. When I Am Laid In Earth [2002] 7:03

5. Freedom [1998] 8:58

6. Momentum [1998] 6:10

7. In The Beginning [2001] 12:45


In the pieces on this CD I have concentrated on short sound samples which I have used as a basic material for composing. What fascinates me about using "frozen sounds", is their dreamy, slow and timeless character. After stretching or transposing the sounds down you could start to hear hidden characteristics - microlevel sound phenomena, interesting overtones, colourful, vibrating and sometimes strange textures.

When a musician hits a note while playing, many things happens at the microlevel inside the sound that the musician isn't aware of. In these pieces I have tried to find these hidden characteristics of music and as a source material I have used sounds taken, for example, from my string quartet recordings. Just a tiny sample, lasting only a fraction of second, might give life to a whole new work. Concentration on restricted sound material means a great deal for my composition work, and part of the stimulation and enjoyment is the feedback that you'll get while allowing sounds simply to be what they are.

The "altered music" on this CD might give a vision about a performance of unreal, surrealistic musicians. And partly this is true. These performances are impossible for musicians to realise in live performance. At my concerts I have given an extra dimension and colour to some of the pieces by processing sounds in real-time and/or using additional sounds.

Petri Kuljuntausta


Format: CD w/ transparent VarioPac Booklet CD Case, four page booklet (incl. essay). Coverart: Mika Perkiökangas.

Publisher: Aureobel 3AB-0103, 2004 Finland.

Distributor: Digelius Music

List Price (in Finland): 17-18 euros.


Orders directly from the producer at lower price [12 euros / CD + 3 euros for s&h], contact:


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In January 2005 Star's End radio selected the 'Momentum' as one of the most Significant Album releases of the year 2004.


In January 2005 Inner Space radio selected the 'Momentum' as one of the Best Album releases of the year 2004.



What People Say About





"...wonderful music... its power and sheer beauty of time textures. The sonic fabrics are very stirring to the spirit and ear alike." — Ros Bandt, composer | sound artist


"...excellent CD!" — Springel & Zabrinsky, Brazil


"Wow, is that beautiful! My favorites are Canvas, Freedom and In the Beginning, but they're all gorgeous. A lovely CD!" — Warren Burt, composer


"No wonder Petri Kuljuntausta was the one who wrote in last month [Paris Transatlantic] with that helpful background information on Terry Riley's activities in Finland in the early 1960s, as his own music is as unashamedly minimalist as the works Riley performed and recorded there all those years ago. Working with tiny samples of instrumental sound (the composer freely admits that "these performances are impossible for musicians to realise in live performance"), Kuljuntausta builds structures of deceptive simplicity, either harmonically rich ("Canvas", "Momentum") or more straightforwardly tonal ("Four Notes", "Freedom").
Sorry to be a predictably boring old fart, but the music of Sibelius does come to mind, as does that of Bryars, Pärt and Tavener, and calling your piece "When I Am Laid In Earth" and featuring a harpsichord certainly leads one to believe there might be a Purcell connection in there too, but this is no homage to Michael Nyman's Greenaway soundtracks. Kuljuntausta's looping and phasing has more in common with what Reich and Riley were doing back when young Nyman was finishing up high school. As is often the case with minimal music, you get as much out of it as you're prepared to put in - let it all flow over you and it's pleasant enough, but try to get into how Kuljuntausta has combined his samples and built up the pieces, and it becomes quite fascinating - especially the closing "In The Beginning", where Kuljuntausta adds more colours to his palette in the form of field recordings. Not so sure how you're supposed to get hold of a copy, so you'd better email Kuljuntausta at the address above - as he was most forthcoming with Riley information, I'm sure he'll reply." — Dan Warburton, Paris Transatlantic


"This is sort of a homage to Gaia in that piece [Canvas]. ...sounds like Sibelius, Sibelius with a Kangasaurus [Transmission Genetics simulation software]. It possible to connect us together with a guest. We go there, we go to Finland!" — Kalvos & Damian New Music Bazaar


"I was just going out when I put the record on. The music stopped me, I just couldn't go until I had listened the whole record through." — Hannu Karisto, radio producer | YLE


"Petri Kuljuntausta knows his stuff when it comes to ambient electronica -- he's worked with countless composers and artists, contributed music to a myriad of multimedia projects [...] It's no surprise, then, that Momentum's glacial post-Eno explorations sound and feel like the work of an accomplished musician. Beginning with fragmentary sound samples (some as short as a quarter-second) and stretching, transposing, pitch-bending and ultimately transforming them, Momentum offers a great example of how to create something out of, essentially, nothing. Kuljuntausta's best compositions will take you through a subtle series of gradient shifts and minute color changes, soothing and flowing like good incidental music should. [...] If you're looking for reflective solitude, you've got a friend in Momentum." — Splendid


"Great CD!" — Juhani Liimatainen, professor of Sound Design | Finnish Theatre Academy


"emotionally arresting ambience. — Petri Kuljuntausta approaches ambient music with a solid sense of history and drama. He’s the author of On/Off an 800-page history of Finnish electronic music, a collaborator with Morton Subotnick and Atau Tanaka, and a composer of film soundtracks for experimental film director Sami van Ingen. Momentum finds him distilling his knowledge and his aesthetic discoveries into an evocative series of electronic compositions.
The title Momentum encapsulates the tension within his compositions. Kuljuntausta concentrates his work on what he calls frozen sounds: short sound samples of acoustic instrumentation which he stretches and layers to bring out their hidden characteristics. The result is anything but static, as the layered elements create a constant pull between suspension and flow. Compositions like Violin Tone Orchestra most obviously exemplify this quality, with tightly packed violin strokes creating a marching progression. But even the slow, extended tones of pieces like Four Notes propel themselves forward with quiet intention.
Listening carefully to this music reveals how important dramatic gesture is to the structure of ambient music. Kuljuntausta carefully builds his compositions with a subtle, but effective arc, one that reveals his past creation of film soundtracks. Even a minimal wall of sound like the choral vocals in Canvas gradually develops into an arrestingly emotional experience. Kuljuntausta ends the album with In the Beginning, a quiet drone piece that layers environmental recordings of crickets, birds, and automobiles, in a piece that creates a quiet film for the mind." — Chris Kennedy, Musicworks


"Excellent CD!" — Jyri-Jussi Rekinen, Rytmi magazine


"Momentum is interesting, almost conceptual artistic re-interpretation of previously composed compositions. The basis for the compositions is in short sound samples. As the composer says, these "frozen moments" are dream-like, slowly opening and somehow timeless horizontal sound lines. Totally new kind of sound vibrations has born by strecthing and layering these lines. When looking the sampled material closely enough, in microlevel, from there raise up new and unknown tone lines. Naturally they've been inside the original composition, but now they've got their own acoustical life. At the end the music is peaceful ambient, or well-worked minimalism, and from that we could continue cyclically dive deeper [into the sound]. [...] tempting sound spirals. By strecthing sounds in time he has created interesting sound material. Brave searching of new is rewarding for the listener." — Aksentti magazine


"Seven compositions realised between 1996 and 2002 from the portfolio of Finnish modernist Kuljuntausta, all of which are rewarding listens and some of which are in fact quite sublime. A resolute modernist, yet he has a firm grasp of tradition: awareness of musique concrete, improvisation and working with media artists has helped shape his work. Impressively for music of such resonance and depth, it’s all constructed from digital samples. What he samples is, almost exclusively, live performances of music by real musicians; but he zeroes in on very small and short fragments of performance, micro-seconds of music. He believes that a performed sound has many ‘hidden characteristics’, things that not even the musician is aware of, and things that we listeners easily miss as each sound flies past us in real time. Once captured in his sampler, he calls them ‘frozen sounds’, and likes their ‘dreamy, slow and timeless character’. He stretches, slows down, and transposes each sound, to the degree that he believes he can see their micro-structure passing visibly before him.
Through his process then, he hopes to reveal these hidden depths, and re-express them in deep, vibrant, exciting new contexts. His method is very far apart from that of the restless and cramped blip-blip, digital glitch and mosaic method favoured by so many editors these days; he thinks big, in terms of Vista-Vision, filling large canvasses. About half of the compositions are practically orchestral in scope, grand cathedral-filling and ceiling-rattling epics, with strings, choirs and gorgeous spectral drones. The other principal mode he works in is no less intriguing, one which involves continual-repetitions of short or clipped phrases arranged in near-serial compositions. Of the two, I tend to prefer the former more wide-screen ‘romantic’ mode; apparently he’s executed another recent work based on the sounds of the Aurora Borealis.
The composer admits he is aware of the effect he’s creating – near-impossible music. It could not be played by human beings, but creates the real and strong impression that it could be, or is. He does not reject this possibility, which he likes for its ‘surrealist’ dimension. Certainly you get a piece like ‘Violin Tone Orchestra’, with its eerily fascinating and dissonant repeated tones, and realise that not even the most iron-willed disciplined violinist could manage such precision and constant repetition. Another important component is the spiritual dimension, but this is neither confirmed nor denied by Kuljuntausta. The first composition ‘Canvas’ strikes me as modern music for the Catholic mass; it’s that rich, filed with religious awe and incense-wreathed ornament. Other titles ‘In the Beginning’ and ‘When I am laid in earth’ might be further hints in that direction; the latter suggests a burial mass. All these are deeply moving works.
Although there’s a slight wrong turning at the beginning of ‘Freedom’ (it starts off like some pompous anthem in sludgy Ambient-mode), this CD is otherwise an unqualified triumph. Kuljuntausta could be the Finnish John Wall; he takes as much care in selection and assemblage of his sources. As opposed to Wall’s austere and minimalist path, this composer has chosen the path of maximal and rich sounds. Another surprise from the Nordic realms…I’m delighted and enraptured." — Ed Pinsent / Sound Projector


"Contemplating music. I enjoyed the record..." — John Richardson, PhD musicologist


"I liked it." — Al Margolis, Pogus | Deep Listening


"Appearently Petri Kuljuntausta is a busy bee. He has worked with filmers, urban architects, composers (such as Morton Subotnick and Atau Tanaka) but he also wrote a 800 page book on History Of Finnish Electronic Music. For his latest CD 'Momentum' he uses short samples as the basic material for composing. Overall the music on this CD has an ambient character and the sounds seem to be stretched out a lot - at least by my perception. This is rather pleasent ambient music of a more relaxing kind. Not upsetting or anything, but also something that is very new to me. [...] on a cloudy sunday morning good music to wake up." — Vital Weekly


"I listened to it with great delight." — Jim Nollman


"Momentum is really a beautiful work and I really enjoyed it a lot." — Inner Space


"It is great album! I was so surprised about it's classical sound. Nowadays we talk about "What kind of albums you have in your iPod?" Momentum is one of those that I have selected to my own one." — Perttu Rastas, media art curator | Kiasma, Museum of Contemporary Art


"Sounds behind the Sounds. — Petri Kuljuntausta has travelled a long way in the world of miraculous sounds. He has carried his own compact arsenal of electronic instruments and soundscapes to many arenas. He has build up his own music at his studio and searched the deepist meaning of sound. His music has been published on many international recordings, but Momentum is his first full-length album. Kuljuntausta is best known on his environmental sound compositions. He is interested on urban environments as well as nature sounds, both heard in his compositions and concerts: sounds from London, Milan, Helsinki, as well as sounds of water, animals and Aurora Borealis. The combining link between the works on Momentum is "frozen time": holded and stretched sounds which has got a new meaning. The sounds that you didn't know even exists. Kuljuntausta's method with these compositions is interesting: as a basic material he has used very short samples, by processing them he has brought up totally new things. By slowing sounds down, stretching and changing the pitches it is possible to go inside the sounds, to the new worlds which doesn't open until the sound material is on the computer and under microscopic research. Final output is very interesting and surprising. Behind the music we could find new music, behind the views are new views, behind the sounds are new sounds: dream-like, slow, mysterious and somehow strangely beautiful. — The music on this album is a great prove from the fact that less could be more. From the very limited material and strict starting point has born rich music, which sounds fresh and which also prove the aware of tradition at the same time. For example the spacious and slowly developing soundscapes of Canvas, Four Notes and Momentum are related to Ambient of Brian Eno. The full and dark colours of Freedom reminds the listener of Steve Roach's and Robert Rich's sound paintings. The closing track In the Beginning is like a symphonic poem for environmental sounds. Beautiful and mysterious music. It is good to stop by on these sounds." — Rytmi magazine 2004


"Momentum presents the best heritage of ambient music and Eno." — Jukka Mikkola, Space Junk


"Beautiful music." — Juhani Nuorvala, composer


"Habitué à composer pour des films expérimentaux, des installations plastiques et des spectacles de danse, le Finlandais Petri Kuljuntausta a appris à équilibrer narration et abstraction, respirations silencieuses et intensités, lumière et ténèbres. Plus loin, très concerné par son héritage musical, il base sa composition dans la tradition de plusieurs écoles, comme celle de la musique concrète ou celle de l’improvisation. Il est même l’auteur d’un livre, On / Off, sur l’histoire de la musique électronique finlandaise. C’est son versant le plus apaisé qu’il a décidé de prolonger. Toutes soutenues par de longs tissages d’harmoniques, de cors ou de cordes, ses pièces sont rayonnantes. Composées à partir d’un stock très limité de sources sonores, celles de l’album Momentum traquent le potentiel, brillant ou dronique, mélancolique ou électrique de chacun de ces gisements. Voilà sans doute pour la tradition chirurgicale. Mais Momentum est aussi et avant tout le disque d’une réalité dramatique infime, mélodique ou submélodique, un déroulement aveugle et tactile. Comme après l’extraction de la gangue, les gemmes révèlent leurs feux et scintillent dans une symphonie de couleurs violacées, les boucles et les strates minérales de Petri Kuljuntausta s’accordent jusque dans leurs ponctuations pour dilater le souffle, l’imagination, la révélation." — Denis Boyer / Fear Drop


"...feels really great. There is so much peace and meditation that soul needs." — Unto K. Laine, Professor | HUT, Laboratory of Acoustics & Audio Signal Processing


"Brilliant material!! Peaceful and moving..." — Mika Kärnä, visual designer


"Kuljuntausta's hit piece!" [Momentum] — David Rothenberg, philosopher | musician


"Momentum is het eerste album van de Finse elektronische componist Petri Kuljuntausta. De titel van zijn plaat is goed gekozen, want de minimalistische muziek die we hier te horen krijgen houdt zich grotendeels op in het stilstaande moment. Het verstrijken van de tijd wordt hier als het ware even stopgezet. Als basis voor zijn statische composities maakt Kuljuntausta gebruik van kleine geluidssamples die in vele gevallen niet meer dan een fractie van een seconde duren en die hij vervolgens met elkaar combineert tot loops en in elkaar geweven gelaagde geluidsbrokken. Daardoor kruipt de luisteraar in zekere zin binnen in het geluid zelf. En geluiden blijken veel rijker te zijn dan doorgaans gedacht. In één toon klinken zovele andere tonen en geluiden mee die we anders niet te horen krijgen, maar die met technische middelen toch ontbloot kunnen worden. Doorheen composities als ‘Violin Tone Orchestra’, ‘Freedom’ en ‘In the Beginning’ horen we echo’s van Gavin Bryars, Arvo Pärt, Brian Eno en vooral van minimalistische grootmeesters als Steve Reich en Terry Riley. " — KindaMuzik


"Well done!" — Leigh Landy, Professor of Music Technology


"...sounds real good, I like it very much." — Oliver Whitehead, visual artist


"Last night I watched in wonder as the International Space Station arced its way across the clear blue Devon sky and vanished just before the horizon; this would have been a perfect soundtrack. ...for a lot of people who’ve sipped deeply from the well of ambient over the years Kuljuntausta’s Momentum will be a much admired and enjoyed addition." — Stylus


"It's great!" — Lee Fletcher, musician | producer


"I was really thrilled listening to it, not knowing that it would appeal to me so much. I especially liked the tracks Momentum and Freedom." — Inner Space


"I like it very much, great works!" — Timo Cantell, PhD, Music Sociologist, Professor of Arts Management | Sibelius Academy


"“What interests me using frozen sounds is their dreamy; slow and timeless character. After stretching and transposing the sounds down you could start to hear hidden characteristics –micro level sound phenomena, interesting overtones, colourful, vibrating and sometimes strange textures” introduces the booklet and this describes already the intention. What you can hear in the "Violin Tone Orchestra" piece is the transposed multiplied recording of one violin note. In "Canvas" it's more an overtone communication between very close sounds of different instruments (choir, electronics, whistle instruments...). "Four notes" sounds a bit like early Klaus Schulze..." — Psyche Van Het Folk, Belgium


[Concert:] "Petri Kuljuntausta, the authority of the Finnish electronic music, proved again of his masterity in live-electronics. During the concert performance the sound wizard stayed still, deeply concentrated, behind his impressive looking equipment board. His music was based on concrete sounds and reflected a deep knowledge of the old school of electronic music. Hypnotic music convey the listener along. Just a one violin note could give a solid ground for the whole performance. Skilful musician painted hypnotic visions. A composition based on four violin notes gave a possibilities for rhythmical development. The rhythmical figures were defined over and over, which blowed up listener's consciousness all over again. Devoted and spacious atmosphere lasted until the end of the performance." — Mikko Lehtola, musicologist


[Concert:] "Petri Kuljuntausta's music has published in Europe and the USA. During 2000-2001 he collaborated with a legend of electronic music, Morton Subotnick. Kuljuntausta's music is based on recorded, concrete sounds and soundscapes. ... there are electronic compositions constructed from violin tones. The music segments were originally produced by old-fashioned-way, then evaluated again and transformed into the unreal virtual instruments. Live-electronic processing brings back the performative side of the music." — Aktivist


"Can a work of sound art (aka “music”) survive on color alone? Petri Kuljuntausta makes a good case that it can in his most recent CD Momentum. All of the works represented on his program rely heavily on the concept of color as subject-matter; some exclusively so. Kuljuntausta’s fascination with color takes form in a keen interest in the building blocks of sound and how these various elements (harmonics, beating patterns, etc.) can be isolated and magnified so that they begin to function as their own entities, standing apart from the sonorities within which they originated. As a result, his music is more concerned with the steady revelation of these hidden components than with any sort of linear form or presentation of themes, which would be indicative of the classical tradition. With this in mind, the listener should not listen to Kuljuntausta’s music with the expectation that it should methodically progress from one point to another, but should instead revel in the experience of being enlightened as to the latent powers of expression that are contained within what would otherwise have been considered “simple” particles of sound.
Canvas (1999) relies almost exclusively on the preoccupation with color described above. The piece begins with a sample of male voices singing an F major chord; Kuljuntausta stretching this sample to the point that it really carries a certain timeless quality, and eventually creates other chords that are closely related to the original F major (D minor, for instance). Within this slow-moving texture he alternately magnifies specific pitches or overtones that occur naturally within these chords. The overall sense of this music is that it is derived from Medieval practice, emulating in some distant way the straight tones, smooth swells, and cathedral quality decays of Gregorian Chant. This piece does reveal a subtle sense of progression (the male voices, which begin with “Ah” tones, gradually evolve to express some Latin texts), though it is primarily concerned with exposing the variety of different color possibilities within the original sample.
Violin Tone Orchestra (1996) betrays the influence of Steve Reich, as Kuljuntausta momentarily sets aside the concept of “color as king” in favor of exposing the rhythmic possibilities within a given sample. Just as Reich explored the possibilities of phase shifting in his early tape-loop pieces (Come Out, or It’s gonna Rain), so Kuljuntausta takes a short sample from one of his own string quartets and phase-shifts it against itself. Sometimes the phasing takes place at such a slow rate that it is barely perceivable; at other times it is abrupt and the changes are immediately apparent. The process is still typical of Kuljuntausta’s interest in finding the profound within the mundane, since he is exploring the rich possibilities contained within a seemingly insignificant fragment of sound.
The title of the third piece on the program, Four Notes (2001), is not surprising considering the composer’s tendency towards taking limited resources and producing maximum results. This piece is also derived from samples of the string quartets mentioned above, and is similar to the first work on this CD (Canvas) in that it sets up a relatively static texture out of which pinpoints of color are explored under Kuljuntausta’s musical microscope. This piece, by virtue of its lack of direction, makes it obvious that Kuljuntausta does not consider horizontal form as being an essential element in the message he is trying to convey.
Just as the focus on color in Canvas is reflected by similar practices in Four Notes, so the concept of phase-shifting within Violin Tone Orchestra is reflected in the fourth piece on the program, When I am Laid in Earth (2002). In the latter piece Kuljuntausta works with a limited sound palette, (again he is using samples of his string quartets along with a synthetically produced harpsichord sound), and creates rhythmic friction between a pair of two-note figures. These figures are set in opposition to one another so that the first pattern is slightly slower than the second. As a result, periods where the figures seem to correspond alternate with moments where the patterns are obviously disjunct from one another. In addition, the individual figures themselves eventually split to produce a total of two string and two harpsichord samples.
Freedom (1998) is yet another work that gives color the central role, but it is unique among the other pieces on this CD in that it focusses less on isolated overtones, and more on the beating produced by harmonic relationships between various pitches. A low pedal A is established near the beginning as a sort of ominous drone from which the texture is not allowed to escape, until the end when it finally escapes by stepping up to B. As other pitches are set against this pedal, beatings result in the pedal itself so that it “grumbles.” This is yet another work where Kuljuntausta creates a sense of timelessness due to a lack of harmonic progression; one gets the impression that the composer intends these pieces to be seen as “meditative escapes,” where a given concept is evident from the start and has only to be experienced (less thinking, more feeling). In this sense, it is not so important that the listener be present for every moment of the piece, though doing so would allow the full meditative experience that Kuljuntausta envisions.
Counterpoint plays a major role within Momentum, which suggests a trend on the part of Kuljuntausta towards referencing music of the past (remember his reference to the medieval period in Canvas). In the course of this piece string samples are contrasted with an electric guitar patch, these timbres being subtly altered to produce vague shades of color, or ghostlike effects. As one might suspect from the work’s title and contrapuntal texture, a subtle sense of direction does present itself in the form of a gradual shift from simple two-voice counterpoint to a more complex web of contrapuntal lines. In this way, Momentum stands apart from its peers by virtue of taking more care in the process of getting from “here to there.”
In the Beginning (2001) is a provocative reference to the first chapter of Genesis. Again, the composer uses string quartet samples, but this time they are presented as a slow moving backdrop against which other sampled sounds are set. These samples include city noises such as traffic and trains, coupled with natural sounds such as birds and wind. The composer is still interested with the integral components of the string quartet sample, magnifying particular harmonics or other pitches, but these are not so invasive as in the other pieces. The quartet samples are subservient to the other sampled sounds, much like the string ensemble in Ives’s Unanswered Question is a backdrop against which the proverbial question is asked. As may be expected, In the Beginning moves at an incredibly slow rate of speed, (if it can be said to be moving at all); listening to the piece is like sitting in Golden Gate Park on a sunny afternoon, experiencing the curious conflict between the urban and natural worlds.
Kuljuntausta does not present the listener with an endless variety of stimuli, but chooses instead to focus on the variety that is contained, (though often overlooked), within limited sources. His music offers the listener an opportunity to explore the many possibilities inherent to these sources, and to briefly step back and appreciate the beauty of “common” sound. In this light, his CD is a great success, and deserves the consideration of every serious appreciator of computer music."
Robert Denham, Array | ICMA (International Computer Music Association)