After The Healer solidified Sister Flo’s position as the gold standard in indie pop in 2007, the band’s future appeared somewhat opaque. Now, after two years of silence, out of deep space lands new album AU. While the folksy and pop-sensible Healer was carried by general spiritual and personal themes, the new album is a plunge into the world of hard sci-fi and experimental electronics, the musical equivalent of a Tarkovski film.

“We figured some people might be a bit surprised by this,” notes bassist Mikko Salonen over the phone. “I’m fully expecting this album to get some mixed reviews.”

With vocalist Samae Koskinen building a solo career and band members dropping out one after another, the new line-up has condensed to a quartet. As a surprise recruit, house music legend and electronic experimentalist Jori Hulkkonen has joined the team as a rank-and-file member.

“We wanted to make this record in a totally new way,” Salonen explains. “None of us composed anything beforehand. We walked into Jori’s studio in Turku and started recording all kinds of improvised melodies, jams and so on, which Jori edited into song structures.”

While AU does not jettison guitars and amps entirely, the new science project is a definite departure from Sister Flo’s earlier band form. Due to the unorthodox creative process, AU is also difficult to play live. Thus far the only “live” performance of the new tracks took place 22 November in Turku. “It went pretty well. We put the CD on and went on stage,” Salonen tells us.

Matti Koskinen