Sunday, December 31, 2006

Two Double-Oh-Seven


Exit 2006

Enter 2007


"I was dreaming when I wrote this, so forgive me if it goes astray..." -Prince

2006 saw many crucial changes taking place: some dictators passing (Milosevic, Saparmurat, Pinochet, Saddam -- good riddance to all of them, though the nationalist fans of those in their respective home countries probably might disagree); more sadly, many musical & lyrical legends were gone too (Barrett, Lee, Brown, Leskinen, Laine). And not to forget the shameful murders of Anna Politkovskaya and Alexander Litvinenko, either. Global warming gave even more alarm signs with the increasingly worrying reports of polar glaciers melting and generally unsteady weather conditions all over the world (for example, here in Tampere we "enjoyed" a snowless Christmas and earlier in August a bitter stench of smoke lingering insistently in the air, caused by some Russian forest fires behind the Finnish border). As usual, trouble continued brewing in the Middle East and the big boys of global power politics kept threatening each other with nuclear missiles. Finland finally won the Eurovision Song Contest with the heavy metal monster Lordi, but very soon everyone except the most jaded media freaks and Markku got bored with the Lordi phenomenon. All in all, these twelve months felt like a much longer period of time, and it is more than probable 2007 will bring many more changes.

As we announce a new era of integrated e(c)lectronics, here’s pHinnWeb’s little survival kit/"manipHesto" for two-double-oh-seven; with a licence to kill, thrill or make ill.

In 2007:

Pop-musically speaking...

We don't need music purists and wanky little fanboys furious over the relative merits of their favourite brands of organized noise (often called also "music(k)") and ignoring the rich world of sounds beyond their style ghettoes.

We don't need sad gothic robots wallowing in their misery: suicide is not a solution and the exaggerated cosmetics-enhanced misery is the best way only to secure some great laughs (a tip for all families, though: goths make great pets, are easy to take care of and maintain since they don't eat much, only need some cheap cider every now and then, and are totally content in their misery as long as you keep them warm and safe in their cage, appropriately covered with a black blanket, goths' eyes being very sensitive to light, let them listen to their Bauhaus CDs and remember to change their black leather pants or miniskirts often enough. The most important thing in a proper goth pet maintenance, though, is to keep any sharp objects away from them, to prevent children from witnessing their favourite cheery pastime, self-mutilation).

We don't need middleclass white B-boys fantasizing of guns and drive-by shootings, but we need to celebrate the fact that we don't live in ghettoes (yet), we still have a (relative) freedom to choose and the (potential) power to change things (our hero, a fifteen-year old Caucasian pimply-faced pimp gangsta lying passed out on the freshly laid minefield of street pizzas, his puffy jacket, mobile phone, wallet and brand new Timbaland shoes stolen, his XXXL-size pants down on his knees and a pool of urine slowly forming under him while he snores the night away blissfully ignorant, as always).

Also forest folkers are freely advised to search a hiding place deeper in their murky woods where they can strum away their acoustic guitars and toy instruments, and improvise to their art school student hearts' content.

Politically & culturally speaking...

We don't need bigoted power-hungry demagogues who tell the ignorant mobs that racial prejudice and chauvinist nationalism are an answer to society's ills, but we don't need to pretend we would be any better, either, but face our own prejudices and fears, and struggle them the best we can.

We don't need politicians choking on their official party line, in the end of the day only meant to secure their own hard-earned turfs. We don't need any wooden-tongued bureaucrats stumbling on red tape and drowning their sacrosanct stiff bodies under their mountains of forms, files and applications.

We may not even need traditional party politics, long ago alienated from ordinary people's lives, but we need to initiate the changes ourselves: in our immediate surroundings where we live and through our "unofficial", non-political networks around the ever-shrinking globe. For this we don't need any leaders who tell us how to get things done: no Presidents, no kings or queens, no "charismatic" reverends or "gurus", no war marshals or generals, no "trendsetters", no pop stars or Idols, no CEOs, bank managers or economy experts, no Führers.

We don't need market researches or trend barometers to tell us how to bring joy to our shallow lives by our "choices" as consumers. We don't need any dogmatist fanatics to think for us.

Yes, this list of "need nots" is so much defining ourselves through negation, so on a more positive note, also some things what we might actually need then for the pursuit of that ever-elusive happiness. We need to transcend the isolation and solitude of our provincial towns and the pecking orders of their petty-minded people with their little cliques. We need to break out of the tunnelvision. We need to stop whining (this very text probably included under this advice, too) and weeping to our pints, and start to seek for improvements and solutions instead.

We need ice cream castles with gossamer wings, more moustachioed Mona Lisas and ardent eclectronauts plunging fearlessly into the Drexciyan depths. We need more Zen, Dada and Gaga and less Britney Spearses without underpants. Tiny DJ-worshipping beatmatching-anal twerps of Platinum flee in horror as Kommandomix Eclectro crushes their otaku masturbatoriums like an amok-running 500 metres tall horny Decepticon juggernaut robot on a combination of Ayahuasca, mescaline and kerosine. Idols judges escaping the town smeared in tar and feathers, running for their lives. Godzilla's farts ignited by a flamethrower and roasting a certain well-known slimeball promoter from the Fenno-Scandic Arschloch. Did the little kid already suspect the real state of Emperor's new streetwear?

There's a God-shaped hole in your scientific rationalist-atheist worldview through which ufos and angels with their meditation crystals fly in, not to talk about poltergeists oozing stinky ectoplasm, Santa Claus in his sleigh and some other unnamed spirit entities only Danish cartoonists in their foolhardy bravery dare to give a form to. You try to arm yourself against the archaic onslaught of superstition with the collected works of Richard Dawkins, Stephen Jay Gould and Stephen Hawking, but it's too late for all your free-thinking positivism to save you, and your precise, exact clockwork-like universe crumbles like a dry cup-cake and the shadows on the walls of your Platonist cave start to close in on you as The Ontological Juggler plays around with the very foundations of your world -- where you once thought everything was in its place. Yes, rationalist boy: this is the new era. Accept chaos.

OK, kiddoes: writing these very words, the present writer is well aware that this way he makes himself susceptible to derision from certain individuals laughing and snickering behind his back, but knowing these people's penchance to lazy, self-centred and self-absorbed passivity, he feels he's got nothing to be ashamed of in comparison.

For the Earth is burning, the time may be running out for this planet, and even though we might be in the middle of some elaborate cosmic joke, that is on all of us -- the gist of what we may never get -- we've got no other choice than to make the best of this desperate situation. E(c)lectricity runs through our veins in the blessed but not at all holy Western night; we are not saints or supermen, but we are not doomed yet, either.

HAPPY NEW YEAR 2007... THE COUNTDOWN HAS BEGUN.

(With a little help from Reverend Harri Teikka.)

And an optional soundtrack for this entry...


Sia: 'Breathe Me' (the finale from Six Feet Under, 2005)
(Warning for those who intend to watch the series in the future: this one contains spoilers.)

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Archigram vs. Brutalist Modernism




Modernism prevailed in architecture since the post-First World War era, in the visions of such people as Le Corbusier, Bauhaus and Functionalists; and by the 1960s this ascetic approach had developed into the minimalist, massive and menacing -- at its worst even post-Stalinist totalitarian -- style of the slabs of concrete, in what was called "Brutalist architecture". Combined with the technocratic city-planning, often manipulated by greedy and corrupt real estate deals, this was the style that prevailed all over the world, as the architecture of earlier eras was often ruthlessly erased and demolished to give way to the box-shaped steel and concrete office buildings and suburban apartment houses of element blocks. (My own hometown Tampere can well be called another example here, when several "wars" were waged over in the 60s and 70s to save such idyllic late 19th century/early 20th buildings as the City Hall or the Old Market Hall, threatened by an impending demolition in the hands of technocratic City Fathers.)

This autocratic dogmatism of Modernism/Brutalism was now challenged by architects who respected more the organic, evolutionary aspects of the city. Perhaps the most inventive and influential thinkers in this vein were the members of Archigram, a group of British architects that got together in the early 1960s through the Architectural Association in London; comprising Warren Chalk, Peter Cook (no relation to the era's famous British comedian of the same name), Dennis Crompton, David Green, Ron Herron and Michael Webb. Archigram's ideas were expressed in imaginative, often playful fantasy projects and colourful collages in "pop" spirit, which were published on the pages of their eponymous journal launched in 1961. Many of Archigram's designs were actually never meant to be realised as finished buildings, only as joyful simulations of what architecture could perhaps be in some possible but distant future, such as Roy Herron's "Walking City" of 1964: with an outlandish idea of a city that could be moved on its mechanical legs from one area to another!

Archigram were influenced by science fiction, comic books and other popular culture, engineering, and generally taking ideas from outside their own medium to find new approaches for architecture. In Amazing Archigram 4 Zoom Issue of 1964 Warren Chalk wrote: "In this second half of the twentieth century, the old idols are crumbling, the old precepts strangely irrelevant, the old dogmas no longer valid. We are in pursuit of an idea, a new vernacular, something alongside the space capsules, computers, and throw-away packages of an atomic and electronic age".

Bibliography:
  • Peter Cook (ed.): Archigram (Princeton Architectural Press, 1999, ISBN 1568981945)
  • Simon Sadler: Archigram: Architecture without Architecture (The MIT Press, 2005, ISBN 0262693224)







    click for larger image



  • Archigram Image Search @ Google
  • Archigram Gallery
  • Archigram @ DesignMuseum.org
  • Archigram @ The Bartlett: Architecture
  • Archigram @ Art Tower Mito
  • Archigram @ Wikipedia
  • Thursday, December 14, 2006

    The Music Machine: 'Talk Talk' (1966)



    The Music Machine, with Sean Bonniwell in the middle


    The Music Machine: 'Talk Talk' @ Where The Action Is, 1966

    I just got The Music Machine's 2-CD compilation The Ultimate Turn-On (Ace Records, 2006), collecting together all the works of the band's original line-up; with the 1966 album Turn On (both as mono and stereo versions), all singles and some rehearsal tapes, demos and alternate takes.

    The Music Machine, headed by Sean Bonniwell, was one of the most intriguing fuzz guitar-wielding "garage"-type bands coming into prominence in that golden year of 1966 when psychedelic music was still raw and relentless, having not yet decayed into boring, meandering, endless blues jams of San Francisco bands or boring, meandering, endless pseudo-classical jams of progressive rock acts. The biggest Music Machine hit was the fierce 'Talk Talk', truly punk rock, only about ten years before Johnny Rotten and his foul-mouthed compadres made British TV watchers spill their evening teas. Well, for me, the original "punk" of the ca. '64-'67 garage/"freakbeat" bands is always far more inspiring than the more nihilistic late 70s style, born under much bleaker, more cynical and disillusioned circumstances of the latter decade.

    The Music Machine were forerunners in other ways, too. Preceding also gothic rock by some fifteen years, the band were uniformly dressed in black, wearing black gloves too (though curiously only in the right hand for each member), and even dyeing their moppish "beat" haircuts black. This sinister look must have been quite a sight to see among all the colourful groups of the day when hippie style, with its often-garish "day-glo" colours, was already emerging in the underground.

    Some similarly gloomy overtones were also reflected in the band's music: the best psychedelic garage, more than flowers and mellow peace feelings of the hippies, always verged on the raw, gloomy feel of existential angst and even bad trip psychotic breakdown. With some extra luck and less music business shortcomings than eventually befell them, The Music Machine -- with Sean Bonniwell as their charismatic but enigmatic frontman with growling vocals and dark lyrics like Jim Morrison had, though admittedly with less "poetic" pretensions -- might finally have reached the same magnitude as The Doors did. If only...





  • Listen to The Music Machine @ MySpace
  • The Official Bonniwell Music Machine Site
  • The Music Machine @ Wikipedia


    The Music Machine: 'Talk Talk'

    I got me a complication
    And it's an only child
    Concernin' my reputation
    As something more than wild
    I know it serves me right
    But I can't sleep at night
    Have to hide my face
    Or go some other play-ay-ay-ay-ay-ace

    I won't cry out for justice
    Admit that I was wrong
    I'll stay in hibernation
    'Til the talk subsides to gone
    My social life's a dud
    My name is really mud
    I'm up to here in lies
    Guess I'm down to size
    To size

    Can't seem to talk about
    The things that bother me
    Seems to be
    What everybody has
    Against me
    Oh, oh, all right

    Here's the situation
    And how it really stands
    I'm out of circulation
    I've all but washed my hands
    My social life's a dud
    My name is really mud
    I'm up to here in lies
    Guess I'm down to size
    To size

    Talk talk Talk talk Talk talk Talk talk
  • Saturday, December 09, 2006

    Dubstep in Tampere



    Tammerforce/Bass and Beer Party club's Dubstep special last night at Yo-Talo presented Tes La Rok (a.k.a. Jani Niiranen from Helsinki) featuring MC Rogue Star from London. I checked this with some interest because I couldn't claim to have much idea what this dubstep thing -- supposedly the latest craze in UK's electronic dance music -- was all about.

    Well, it turned out to be pretty intriguing: very growling and slow bone-shaking sub-bass sounds accompanied with abstract electronic excursions circling from one speaker to another. In fact, one could say it sounded much like a jungle 45 rpm vinyl record played at death-slow 33 rpm instead. So the tempo was that of dub reggae but the aggressive heaviness -- in fact, downright scary at times -- was clearly from those darker styles of drum'n'bass.

    This sound made me somehow think of my old favourites Meat Beat Manifesto, Techno Animal (Kevin "The Bug" Martin's project with Justin Broadrick of Godflesh) or even one my all-time fave tracks, LFO's 'Tied-Up' (albeit as a slowed-down version). So I have to say I quite liked the dubstep sound: nice, dark and hard. (Heh, a comparison for the more rock-oriented people might be of grunge's slower Black Sabbath-like sounds to that of speed metal.)

    The only problem with the performance for me was that maybe the BPM/tempo there remained a bit too same-y all through the set; for my own tastes accelerating the tempo and adding more rhythmical variation every once in a while might have probably made it more interesting, but perhaps this would have also lost the idea of what this style is all about. And perhaps it might have been interesting to hear it all as purely instrumental without the Cockney chants from this Brit MC who did his best, though, to lift the audience's emotions and even trying to make them raise their cigarette lighters for Tes La Rok (as they do at UK parties to show appreciation for the DJ; it seems Finnish audiences have not adopted this habit, at least not yet). After the set, Bass and Beer head honcho Bob Ryynänen played some cool electro, the way we haven't heard in ages in this Northern Mecca of milk-white junglists, Morrissey-worshippers and forest folkers; even causing one ol' pHinn to do some rare body movements on dancefloor; a considerable feat in itself these days.

    Sakke Karipuro's photos from the event

    More on dubstep:


    Dubstep - MTV Base "About To Blow"


    Dubstep documentary of BBC Collective

    Monday, December 04, 2006

    Unidentified Sound Objects Art Will Blow Your Mind!






    valokuvia
    grafiikkaa
    veistoksia
    maalauksia


    Sampen of Unidentified Sound Objects has chockful of mind-blowing new material on the Gallery section of the official USO site at pHinnWeb: paintings, sculptures, graphics (my own favourite section here -- neo-primitive-psychedelic Id Picassoid-monsteroid alert!) and photos. Unidentified Sound Objects should be big!

    Unidentified Sound Objects 2005 interview @ pHinnWeb

    Listen to Unidentified Sound Objects @ MySpace

    Saturday, December 02, 2006

    Discosusi and Finnish DJ Hall of Fame




    click for larger images


    Diskosusi ("Disco Wolf") was a magazine (or maybe "fanzine" would be a more appropriate description for this pocket-size amateur publication) that was published in Tampere from 1979 to 1982, as its sole purpose to unite Finnish DJs, disco music fans and clubbers of the day. In its heyday Diskosusi was distributed in Finnish discos and clubs, at its best reaching an edition of 10.000 copies. The primus motor behind Discosusi was Pentti "DJ Pena" Teräväinen (b. 1956), one of the veterans of Finnish disco culture and an organiser of the union of DJs who started his record-spinning career in 1972. Diskosusi did its share in contributing to local DJ/disco culture with charts, background histories of artists, DJ interviews and naturally record reviews. The magazine covered all popular styles of disco and dance music, but also some artists performing 50s style of rock'n'roll and rockabilly revival, extremely popular in the late 70s Finland, would find their way to the pages of Diskosusi.

    The DJ culture has undergone many changes since the original disco days. Whereas today's "star" DJs mostly remain just silent and technical masters of record beatmatching, the yesteryear DJs were often hyper-talkative and flamboyant "masters of ceremony", not only spinning records but also introducing them to audiences and raising their spirits the best they could; sometimes also wearing outlandish costumes to add to the rockstar-like appearance. Finnish discotheque culture celebrates this year its 40th birthday, though the actual heyday of disco was had in the late 70s when blockbuster films like Saturday Night Fever kicked off the dancefloor mania also in these Northern latitudes.

    One of the Discosusi interviewees was Tapani "DJ Beaver" Ripatti (b. 1950), who had became a small celebrity in the late 70s by being a regular face in TV's popular "jukebox jury" show called Levyraati, and through his own radio shows -- such as Ocsid (read that backwards) -- in 80s and 90s gained a legendary position in Finland playing Hi-NRG disco and Italo, and later on even moving to rave techno. (I had an honour myself to DJ in 2004 as a warm-up to Mr. Ripatti in Helsinki's Kerma -- during my own set, punters were content to stay sitting down sipping their beers, but when Don Ripatti started to work the room with his classic 80s and 90s tracks and did his famous speaks over the records, the same people just went nuts on the dancefoor!)

    DJ Pena, still going strong these days (though playing for more mature audiences now) with his Discopress and Hitit magazine, is also instrumental in establishing the Finnish DJ Hall of Fame, the gallery of DJs who have behind them a career of at least 25 years (and now found also exhibited at Tampere's Tabu Wine Bar). There are now over 30 members in the DJ Hall of Fame, including such disc-spinning veterans as Tapani "Beaver" Ripatti, Markku "DJ Edward" Vesala, Jyrki "Jyräys" Hämäläinen, Pekka "Takku" Kotilainen, Kari "Nite" Niiranen, Pentti "Poppamies" Kemppainen, Esko "Eemu" Riihelä, and Johnny-Kai "Johnny" Forssell; many of these familiar names also in Finnish music media and radio.



    Pentti "DJ Pena" Teräväinen in 1979

    Tapani "Beaver" Ripatti, also 1979. Alongside the obligatory aviator glasses, apparently moustaches and folk-style cardigans were also "the must" those days...



    Gallery: 1979 ads for Tampere discos


    (Thanks to Juri for the copies of Discosusi!)

    Friday, December 01, 2006

    pHinnWeb Chart December 2006...



    it's boring to be hip

    ... can be found here.