Monday, July 26, 2004

Slavic Walkmen does Underground Disco

It's my birthday today. So does time pass by, we'll get a bit older, and blaah blaah. I'm not that much into celebrating since there's not much to celebrate. Just trying to take it easy. A day like another day; no cause for things like nostalgia or melancholy or sadness of getting old (I've had some miserable birthdays in my past, so I'm always a bit afraid of this particular day).

So, last Saturday I was DJing at a party called "Slavic Walkmen does Underground Disco party" at Klubi. They had a nice foam machine on the outdoors terrace ejuculating all over. Very cute, like some 60s psychedelic freak-out party. There were these huge puffs of foam floating all over people. One of my favourite episodes of Space: 1999, called 'Space Brain', had a similar scene; astronauts cavorting in the middle of this huge foam, in fact part of the brain of this weird gossamer-like space organism. It seemed like the whole town was going to be drowned in foam before too long. It was getting near midnight and I was slowly getting drunk and waiting for my turn to play. It sounded to me like the guest stars Janne and El Allu were playing quite a lot 70ish "Love Boat" style of disco. Cheese galore. There was one of these freaks prancing around, a guy with a jacket and a blonde-dyed crop. First he did some threatening-looking shadow-boxing with his friends, then he took off all his clothes, and jumped up to the DJ stage to strut his, erm, thing. Unnecessary to say, the guy was thrown out before he was able to do his male stripper routine to the full. I also heard that the same person had been pissing on the ladies' room sink before that. On Friday night night the same guy hurled a can of sangria over one of the performers' laptop at Swäg. Well, it's the spirit of underground, isn't it? Gotta love these freaks.

I had to admit I was a bit at loss with this evening, so I had to do my best with the little disco-orientated music I've got in my collection. My old favourite, the early-90s rave classic, Jaydee's hypnotic Hammond jam 'Plastic Dreams', went really well with the 2004 audience too, even in its full 10 minutes length. At the end of night these shapelessly foam-covered half-naked bodies were dancing around on stage just in front of DJ desk, but it was a bit too testosterone-filled to my own tastes and in fact more like some Francis Bacon painting than any beautiful Ibiza dream (one person's dream can be other person's nightmare). And our little blonde gonzoid friend managed to make reappearance somehow, though gladly stayed away from yours truly (after the Vaasa heckler experience last winter I'm more than ready to forget my pacifist principles with these people). But what the heck, it was all in the name of good clean fun. Perhaps I expected myself more drillbient, scary and distorted sonic attacks from Slavic Walkmen and less glam baila baila, but that's probably for some other occasion. Thanks to Aleks and Ville for setting this up, and everyone who were there.


p(H)laylist 240704

Dead Or Alive: You Spin Me Around Like A Record
Sly and the Family Stone: Dance To The Music (Disco mix)
S'Express: Theme From S'Express
Sylvester: Be With You
Parallax Corporation: Lift-Off
I-f: Space Invaders Are Smoking Grass
Adult.: Nausea (Mega-Blend)
Dave Clarke feat. Chicks on Speed: What Was Her Name? (LFO mix)
Jaydee: Plastic Dreams
---

Cerrone: Supernature
Prince: Dirty Mind
Joyrex: Popcorn

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Summertime Flu And Great Expectations

Great, thanks to that class reunion night, I got cold and been now suffering from flu all this week. In the middle of warmest summertime, how else. I've been trying to rest: I've got my DJ gig at Swäg on Friday, then the Underground Disco event with Slavic Walkmen on Saturday, so I've got to be OK by then; not to let my fans down. Ha ha ha. The 7th of August I'll go to Turku to play at Uuden Musiikin Festivaali. So, DJ-wise it's been busier for me than usually. I wonder if I can take this pace, but on the other hand I've got no choices: I'm still officially unemployed and I've got to try to "establish myself" the best I can with my music activities. Because It's hard for me to think that I should do an ordinary nine-to-five job, especially now when I'm getting older. The idea just devastates me. I don't think I'm that lazy, but I'm quite a lot either-or person: either I have to be 100% motivated to what I'm doing, or then I'm not motivated at all. I've done these wage jobs and I just couldn't take it. I became lazy and irresponsible. I had no spark for it. It makes life hard for you sometimes, I know. My dream: to be able to earn some sort of living with pHinnWeb/music/related activities. It's quite ironic, isn't it? That you have to work so hard just to avoid ordinary jobs, avoid being just like everyone else; being drowned by your tedious everyday existence of work, family, children...

I'm some sort of example of the guilt created by Protestant work ethics. I bear constant guilt of the fact that my university studies didn't go anywhere, that everyone was expecting great things from me, but I just couldn't do it. Because that was not how life worked out for me; there were too many personal and family mess-ups, tons of guilt, depression, shame; all in one vicious circle. My redemption was music and my Website. I had to leave all those people and their expectations behind, and it wasn't that easy. It still isn't. I compare my life to tightrope-walking. As long I just keep on going and doing my own thing, it's going to be alright and fine, but if I look down and start to think about the abyss beneath me, there's a chance that I will fall. I lead a strange, unreal life; I know having to face the reality of other people would crush me. So I just have to cope with what I've got. Keep on praying (I speak metaphorically here of course since I'm not that religious person; a sort of agnostic, I guess) and believing in my Guardian Angel (ditto).

Besides having cold, my stomach has been upside down for over a month now. I have to take crap a couple of times a day, and it often comes out nearly liquid, like diarrhea. I guess drinking bucket-loads of coffee for years and eating all sorts of unhealthy crap has done it (plus all psychosomatic hardships I've been through, I guess): my guts are fucked. Sorry if this is disgusting for you, but does anyone read these ramblings anyway...?

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

True And False Blended Together

"He was dignity distorted, bravery become knavery, sanctimoniousness masking sin. He was a mirror, jeering at the subject it reflected. Yet so muted were the jeers, so delicate the inaccuracies of delineation, that they evaded detection. True and false were blended together. The false was merely an extended shadow of the true."

- Jim Thompson: A Swell Looking Babe

Class Reunion

"They hurt you at home and they hit you at school
They hate you if you're clever and despise a fool
Till you're so fucking crazy you can't follow their rules

[...]

When they've tortured and scared you for 20 odd years
then they expect you to pick a career
When you can't really function, you're so full of fear"

- John Lennon: 'Working Class Hero'


Last Saturday I had a class reunion meeting with the people I spent nine years of my formative years with, at the Haihara Primary School and at the Kaukajärvi Upper Level Comperehensive School (Junior High School); both schools adjunct in the same building smack in the middle of Kaukajärvi, a suburb of Tampere where I grew up. Nine years, from the age of seven to that of fifteen. You can guess for me this meeting was an emotionally charged one, though I managed to keep it at bay, under my (more or less) businesslike shell.

To be honest, back in the time when it all ended after nine years of basic schooling and three additional years at the Hervanta High School, I was more than happy to get out of the grindmill. And the period I spent later on at the university was basically nothing more than returning to school: don't think for yourself, follow orders, submit to the self-serving idiots who run the system, be nothing. I bless every day out of the school, out of any sort of educational system.

That early phase of life was for me filled with shame, confusion, ignorance, loneliness; the feelings of being constantly misunderstood, miscast, mistreated. And now I was back with these people I shared the awkward years with. The same people who used to mock me and give me a hard time, but whom I also managed to treat like a bastard from time to time. Children can be cruel to each other since they're not yet hindered by the constraints of having been conditioned into the rules of the so called civilization; into socialization and other crap like that. In other words, children have not yet learned how to mask their despisal and scorn under the safe armour of politeness and superficial courtesy like adults do.

Not to talk about the teachers. I can't help it but that's one profession I've got it hard to feel too much sympathy for. I'm aware of the fact that many teachers do important work but still have it hard and don't receive the respect or financial reward that ought to be their due, but still, I've had such a hard time in the hands of these people that often it's difficult for me to care for the hardships teachers and other professional educators have to go through. I've had my share of petty tyrants who did their best to terrorize the children -- though during our worst puberty years it also was vice versa -- or teachers who were just plain incompetent. I am not going to mention any names here, but it was inevitable this meeting would also bring up these sore memories. It disgusts me and makes me furious to think how some of these same people were, and are, considered the very pillars of society: children can't do much to fight back. It starts to sound like "We don't need no education" in Pink Floyd's The Wall, doesn't it? Probably the dislike of teachers and the school system is an archetypal experience.

Anyway, I went to this reunion knowing I had to meet up with my past. And I had to whet my curiosity; it can't be denied that often I've been thinking of whatever happened to these people, how they grew up, what became of them. Well, my curiosity was satisfied: most of them were now married, with children, having jobs, running their own businesses, some of them living abroad. Some had lost hair and gained weight. Some looked older than their age, some younger. Some of them wore signs of hard-lived life on their faces. The girls I used to have a fleeting adolescent crush with were still cute, bar a wrinkle or two around the eyes. There were some sad and tragic stories of our contemporaries who had passed by prematurely, some by their own hand -- and less sad stories of new ones being born: these people I remember as kids having children of their own. I felt like a freak, the odd one out: but not exactly in a bad way. In fact, I was happy I had found my own niche too, not copying or replicating anyone else's life.

It was not that bad in the end; it was really nice to meet these people after so much time had passed by, but I don't claim I wouldn't have felt uneasy about the whole thing. I felt uneasy as hell, as you would feel around people who once made you feel clumsy, stupid, ugly, embarrassed, out of place. All that needling and picking on; the mocking words still ringing in one's ears after all these years. And how much pain you managed to cause yourself? Some people you once really hated but now had to be cool and polite with, like nothing had ever happened. Thinking they were only dumb and immature children then -- just like yourself. You can forgive but can you forget?

My class reunion images

More:

My maths anxiety

Kaukajärvi
More Kaukajärvi images

Friday, July 16, 2004

The Fear of Weakness

Those people who are most concerned with weakness or one showing any signs of weakness; those with any sort of pseudo-Nietzschean "superman" trappings; those who openly despise the people they consider "weak" -- I think deep inside they're themselves the ones who are the most fragile. It's a typical paradox of the Taoist nature: every phenomenon contains its exact opposite. Because there is nothing more fearsome to the one admiring strength and force than to admit one's own weakness, the horrifying idea that one might after all be vulnerable and mere mortal -- just like the rest.

Nazis are the best example here: they idealized strength, physical force and the aesthetic beauty of their so called superior Aryan race, and their greatest despisal and fear was directed towards those who were deemed "inferior" in their fallacious viewpoints: those of non-Aryan, non-Nordic, non-white peoples; those races or human types who were "ugly" or even physically deformed; i.e., who did not meet their narrowly defined aesthetic ideals, or simply those who were "weak". But how were the greatest leaders of the Nazis themselves? Not exactly the perfect specimen of the physically superior master race themselves: look any time at the photographs of Himmler, Göring, Göbbels or even Hitler himself. Weak jaws, pointed noses, men small in stature, skinny or over-weight. Grotesque small men with oversized neuroses turning into delusions of grandeur; weak little men whose greatest fear was weakness itself. Schizoid daydreamers and psychopathological utopists dreaming of the muscular and handsome "men of action". Nazi Germany was basically a Tom of Finland type of homoerotic masturbation fantasy; an adolescent superhero power fantasy that couldn't last. Instead of Superman (a comics character created by two Jewish schoolboys!) it was just a little kid in tights and cape jumping off the window before his parents could stop him, actually thinking he could fly. The outcome of this thoughtless game: millions of dead or crippled for life physically and mentally; half the world in ruins.

The other side of the totalitarian coin: the Soviet Communism. Enter the Stakhanovian Worker Superhero of Socialist Realism. The same muscular worker/soldier heroism, the strong jaw pointing upwards and fierce eyes gazing fearlessly into the shining future of the forthcoming utopia. But there was not to be any Utopia, only a dying Dystopia.

And now over half a century has passed, and what is left is only the Capitalist Dream. The dream of endless growth, increasing profits and returns with no end in sight. The Homo Economicus is the Superman of our own days. Welfare state and social security are for the weak only; nothing that our "self-made" neo-liberalist Supermen and Superwomen would need. The prevailing myth of our time is that of a self-made millionaire/billionaire. Lifestyles of the rich and famous. It would be all too easy to predict the eventual collapse of capitalism, in the way they did away with fascism and communism. The system that will lose its dynamism and ability to renew, regenerate itself will only lead to entropy. The strong will have nightmares every night of their own weakness creeping up to them. "And the meek shall inherit the Earth."

Savage Night

"I was through, wasted up. I wasn't living; I was just going through the motions.
 
Life is remembering, I guess. If you've lost interest, if everything is that same shade of grey, the kind you see when you look into light with your eyes closed, if nothing seems worth storing away, either as bad or good, reward or retribution, then you may keep going for a while. And you don't remember.
 
[...]
 
I snapped out of it then, and came back to life. You have to at a time like that whether you want or not." 
 
Jim Thompson: Savage Night

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Lapua

On Tuesday we paid a visit with my brother to our grandfather, who lives in Lapua. Lapua is a small town (pop. approximately 13,000) situated in the region of Southern Pohjanmaa (Ostrobothnia is the ancient Latin name for the region). I was born in Lapua myself, though I have lived in Tampere since I was one year old, after my father came to study at the University of Tampere.

The town of Lapua, despite its small size, plays quite a part in Finnish history. Locals are deeply religious, conservative and patriotic Protestants, and the town was the place where the fiercely anti-Communist, right-wing "Lapuan Liike" movement was born in the 1930s, headed by one Vihtori Kosola. Other well-known Lapua natives are, among all, Finnish ex-Prime Minister Anneli Jäätteenmäki (who had to resign in the stir of controversy in an affair called "Iraqgate"), the notorious artist Teemu Mäki (still best known from his art video where he slaughtered a living cat), and the actor Esko Nikkari, also familiar from Aki Kaurismäki's films. It's obvious Lapua is known for people who like to make ripples. Lapua is also the home for the world-famous Lapua Ammunition Factory. In 1976 there was an explosion at the factory that took the lives of 40 people. From Pohjanmaa there was a large immigrant movement to America in the nineteenth century (when the great starvation years took place) and early twentieth century, so I have some distant relatives also in the New World.

Despite the bold reputation of Pohjanmaa people, my grandfather Aarne Rautio is a kind and modest man; even a saint-like person if I've ever known one. I feel guilty that I don't visit him as often as I should, especially now when he became a widower in 2001. My grandmother Helvi Rautio was the strong-willed matriach of our family. She was from the Finnish region of Savo and was married during the war to my grandfather. The relocation from Savo to Pohjanmaa did not take place without any friction. In Finland there's some tribal mistrust between people of different provinces and regions, and for example, the people of Savo are often especially maligned as being crooked and self-serving people, though dynamic, humorous and playful too. And the Pohjanmaa people are considered very proud, bold, straightforward, patriotic, conservative, with a lot of entrepreneur spirit -- and stiff.

Before she died, my grandmother often told me her hard-time stories about how she was mistreated in the Rautio family in the 1940s and 50s, by her mother-in-law et al. I think those experiences made my grandmother a bit hardened and bitter person, though she and my grandfather always treated me like a little prince. When I was a child, I spent many summers and holidays with my grandparents in Lapua and they grew very fond of and attached to me. They lived in a house in the middle of forest of Rautakorpi, and it was all quite secluded. There were rarely any visitors, and I spent a lot alone with my own games, reading books and watching their small black and white TV that got its power from a car accumulator: they didn't have any electricity and used gas for cooking and to light up the place. Now it feels very idyllic, but I often wonder if all that seclusion didn't have some effect at least of me becoming more a loner type than a socializing one. Nevertheless, those are my memories, things that were to make me what I am now.

It is said that the notorious puukkojunkkari ("knife fighter") Antti Rannanjärvi would also bear some relation to our family. Puukkojunkkarit, or Häjyt, were a bunch of rogues who terrorized the Pohjanmaa region in the 19th century. Especially restless was the decade of the 1850s. Antti Rannanjärvi's best known associate was a man called Antti Isotalo. Nowadays these people have become similar "folk heroes" in Finland as the outlaws in the Wild West of America are now considered.

Antti Rannanjärvi & Antti Isotalo, the original gangstas

Isotalon Antti ja Rannanjärvi
ne jutteli kaharen kesken:
:;: Tapa sinä Kauhavan ruma vallesmanni,
niin minä nain sen komian lesken. :;:

Isotalon Antti oli ensimmäänen
ja Rannanjärvi oli toinen
:;: Pukkilan Jaska se Kauhavalla,
oli kolmas samanmoinen. :;:

Sitten on piru, sanoi Rannanjärvi
jos minä miestä pelkään
:;: Tervaspampulla kuonon päälle,
ja teräksellä selkään. :;:

Vaasan veri ei vapise
eikä Kauhavan rauta ruostu
:;: niskasta kiinni ja puukkolla selkähän
jonsei muutoin suostu :;:

Ensin portahat särjettiin
ja sitten vasta muuri,
:;: Isoo-Antti se erellä meni,
joka joukosta oli suurin. :;:

Ei saa laulaa Rannanjärvestä,
Rannanjärvi on kuollu.
:;: Rannanjärven hauralle,
on marmorikivi tuotu. :;:

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Neo-Folk Revisited

http://www.taivaansusi.net/taide/sarjis/neofolk.html

The American Book of the Dead

http://theamericanbook.blogspot.com

Lavatanssit

10 July 2004,
Lavatanssit, Nokia, Finland

Lavatanssit was an electronic music event and barbeque party taking place at a sports lodge in the middle of forest near the town of Nokia. Driving there, we picked up two Dutch hitch-hikers, who wanted to see Nokia, so they could tell at home that they had been there. They were duly explained that the town of Nokia these days doesn't have anything to do with the famous international mobile phone manufacturer, although the original Nokia industries (car tyres, televisions and rubber boots!) started there. Instead, the Dutch guys were invited to this party. I don't know what they made of it: it was raining nearly all the time and the place in the woods was quite murky. But crazy young Finns seemed to enjoy themselves. The sports lodge "main arena" was indoors, and Sami Koivikko and Virta performed there. In a kind of outdoors tent of transparent plastic I played a sort of "Best of pHinn" set of electro, etc., while killing off mosquitos. An interesting experience.

Images from Lavatanssit:

1
2
3
4
5

pHinn playlist:

Cybotron: Techno City
Octagon Man: Vidd
Double Dutch: ?
Pan sonic: Kierto
New York City Survivors: Sirkkeli
Freddy Fresh: ?
John Carpenter: Assault On Precinct 13 - Main Theme
Drexciya: You Don't Know
Front 242: Commandomix
Terence Fixmer: Warm
Club Telex Noise Ensemble: CTNE (Andrew Duke's Halifax to Montreal mix)
I-f: Shadow of a Clown
(Imatran Voima?)
Underground Resistance: Electronic Warfare (Voc)
Kraftwerk: Numbers
Aux 88: Electro/Techno (Microknox edit)
Model 500: Time Space Transmat
Adonis: No Way Back
Herbie Hancock: Rockit
DJ Nasty: Closet Freak
(Imatran Voima?)
Dexter: Intruder
Tackhead: Mind at the End of Tether
?: Beethoven Street Symphony(?)

Wang Lei

Wang Lei (CHINA), Oreia, Toiminto, DJ Aleks, DJ Art Barfuncle, DJ pHinn
8 July 2004, Mental Alaska @ Telakka, Tampere, Finland


The night was started by the set of Oreia. Smooth melodic ambient/IDM soundscapes with a touch of soul/funky keyboard licks. Then Toiminto played another of his excellent sets of disturbed beats and sounds combined with suave electronic-ah; "the sound of 2004" as the DJ Slave To The Beat put it. Both these local guys need a recording contract now. I mean it.

In the meanwhile, the James Hetfield-lookalike Art Barfuncle (aka Arttu P.) played from vinyls some of the most disturbed DJ sounds I've ever heard. Twisted V/Vmish acid polka from outer space. Or something.

The main performer, Wang Lei, then hit the jackpot. I've heard his album containing some tasty dub sounds combined to samples of Chinese music, but it didn't prepare me for this that was one of the most energetic sets I've ever heard. Press info compared Mr. Wang's music to Autechre and Prefuse 73, but I think those descriptions were a bit misleading, since this music putting together dub, breakbeats, drum'n'bass and even a taste of acid was clearly made for dancing, not just nodding off to in your bedroom. Wang Lei moved behind his gear and Sherman Filter Bank fluently like Bruce Lee, Shaolin monk or a dancer from Beijing's opera or a master Chinese chef. The relentless, head-banging rhythms created a mystical, tribal ritual; this clearly would have required a dancefloor which a venue like Telakka couldn't provide, since the rhythm just swept one along. Some people danced, nevertheless. Alongside Pan sonic at Tampere Biennale, the best live act I've seen this year, hands down.


pHinn's playlist 080704:

James: Jam J (Sabres of Paradise mix)
Max Romeo & The Upsetters: One Step Forward
The Orb: Towers of Dub
---
Perrey & Kingsley: One Note Samba
Dean Elliot: Lonesome Road
DAT Politics: The Way
A. Alpha & Citizen Omega: Toinen loppuunpaluu
Porter Ricks: Redundance 6
Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention: Nasal Retentive Calliope Music
Noise Production: Somewhere In Germany (excerpt)
Joe Meek & The Blue Men: March of the Dribcots
Raymond Scott: Bufferin (Original)
Team Doyobi: You Have The Power
Martin Denny: Quiet Village
Señor Coconut Y Su Conjunto: Showroom Dummies
Schneider TM vs. Kpt. Michi.Gan: The Light 3000
Aphex Twin: Bike Pump Meets Bucket
The Sabres of Paradise: Bubble & Slide (Nightmares On Wax mix)
Bandulu: Agent Jah

Monday, July 05, 2004

The Gutter

We tend to reflect our own lives to those of other people's. My own is like living next to the gutter and trying desperately not to fall in. Just trying to survive. Therefore I tend to see things perhaps too bleak, always preparing myself for the next catastrophe. But just to stay out of the gutter. I've seen in my life too many people to fall in. I just try to keep awake in the world of sleep-walkers.

Saturday, July 03, 2004

Mistah Brando, He Dead

You were the Wild One. You rode the Streetcar Called Desire. You danced the Last Tango in Paris. You were the Godfather. You were Colonel Kurtz. You were a legend, myth and icon. But were you happy?

Marlon Brando 1924-2004

CNN Obituary
BBC News

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Veikko Ennala

Veikko Ennala (1922-1991) was the poet laureate of Finnish gutter journalism. He gained his reputation writing from 1966 onwards to the Hymy ("The Smile") magazine of the publisher mogul Urpo Lahtinen. Hymy epitomized sensation journalism in Finland, and Veikko Ennala was the magazine's brightest star.

Verbally highly talented, Ennala grasped in his feature stories, interviews and columns such subjects and topics that had been hitherto taboos in the conservative, chaste climate of postwar Finland, but which were now becoming quickly unveiled in the social and political tumult and ongoing sexual revolution of the 1960s. The time was just ripe for this sort of unflinching approach, and the sales of Hymy soared with Veikko Ennala's quasi-sociological but clearly sensationalist, pseudo-sexological but shamelessly voyeurist accounts of the seedy side of Finnish life.

There is a derogative Finnish term sosiaaliporno ("social porn") describing this sort of sensational journalism disguised as being of "human interest" but in fact turning one into a Peeping Tom secretly feasting on the horrid living conditions of the people dwelling "on the wrong side of the tracks": social and economic unjustice, exploitation of the weak, alcoholism, addictions, mental disturbances, sexual perversions and the general tragedy of life becoming just a freak show run by the yellow press for the rubberneckers and the morbidly curious.

I'm now working on a little site on Veikko Ennala, who enjoys a posthumous cult reputation here in Finland. Perhaps he represents for a young generation a time long lost, both wilder and more innocent than these days.