Wednesday, January 31, 2007

RIP: Kirka Babitzin (1950-2007)

Kirka: 'Hengaillaan' (Eurovision Song Contest 1984)


Kirill "Kirka" Babitzin (born September 22, 1950 in Helsinki, Finland – died January 31, 2007) was one of Finland's most famous popular musicians.


This is a heavily condensed version of Kirka Babitzin's biography at Populaarimusiikin museo.

The third son of an immigrant family, Babitzin's musical career originally began at age 5 when his grandmother gave him an accordion. He later won an accordion competition at age 10, but left the accordion for rock and roll music. His first band was The Creatures, which he joined in 1964, under his artist name Kirka.

Babitzin got his breakthrough in 1967 when he joined the band The Islanders, originally led by Ilkka "Danny" Lipsanen, as the major vocalist, and began touring all over Finland. Kirka also recorded some singles with Blues Section.

In 1978 Babitzin released a duet album with his sister Anna, and in the next year their sister Muska joined them.

Kirka represented Finland at the Eurovision Song Contest 1984, finishing a strong ninth with the song Hengaillaan.

Babitzin was awarded the Emma award for best male singer twice, first in 1981 and then in 2000. Before his death he promised he will keep on making music at least until his 60th birthday in 2010.

Kirka Babitzin died on the morning of January 31 2007 in his home.


Kirka Babitzin released 78 singles and almost 60 albums, including 15 collections. A complete discography (in Finnish) is available here. Kirka's album Surun pyyhit silmistäni (1988) is the third most sold Finnish album.


Kirka in The Creatures:

  • Listen to Kirka @ MySpace
  • More Kirka search results @ YouTube
  • Tuesday, January 30, 2007

    Nu Rave?

    Klaxons: 'Magick'

    Klaxons: 'Golden Skans'

    Klaxons, supposedly "Nu Rave" -- so how come I am not holding my breath...?

    From Wikipedia:

    New Rave (also spelt Neu Rave and Nu Rave), is a developing style of music fusing elements of electronic dance music and rock. It has similarities with US-led style Dance-punk. Music publication NME are largely responsible for popularising the term.

    Nu-Rave can also refer to the resurgent breakbeat hardcore scene.

    It can also be applied to a burgeoning fashion style, wherein 'rave' elements such as neon clothing, glow sticks, and baggy t-shirts teamed with leggings are re-appropriated.

    Electronic dance music/rock crossovers are nothing new in itself: there are such examples in the early 90s indie heroes as Primal Scream (especially their Screamadelica of 1991), EMF and their hit 'Unbelievable', Pop Will Eat Itself, Jesus Jones... but does anyone remember Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine any more...? For the uninitiated (and someone who remembers the original Rave) the word combination (and personal fantasy concept) Nu Rave in itself just sounds great -- that silly but enchanting charm of acts like Altern-8 and early (pre-guitar) Prodigy updated for the new millennium and with new super sounds, perhaps? The return of warehouse parties in a totally fresh, smart and turbo-charged new generation version? -- but if this is just another cynical redressing for tinny-sounding NME indie guitar bands, then there's no reason to hold your breath. Maybe the problem with Nu Rave is that there is just not enough Rave in it.

  • Nu Rave @ History Is Made At Night blog

  • New Rave @ Wikipedia

    Addition, 31 January 2007

    Well, at least the Klaxons seem to have some decent reading habits: namechecking William S. Burroughs' Interzone and Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow in their songs. Perhaps they would just desperately need a Kompleksi remix [grin]...
  • Saturday, January 27, 2007

    Privilege (1967) by Peter Watkins @ YouTube!

    Privilege Part 1 (of 14)

  • Part 2 (of 14)
  • Part 3 (of 14)
  • Part 4 (of 14)
  • Part 5 (of 14)
  • Part 6 (of 14)
  • Part 7 (of 14)
  • Part 8 (of 14)
  • Part 9 (of 14)
  • Part 10 (of 14)
  • Part 11 (of 14)
  • Part 12 (of 14)
  • Part 13 (of 14)
  • Part 14 (of 14)

    I told you last August about Peter Watkins' 1967 film Privilege, lamenting the poor distribution status of this cult sci-fi film about the connections of pop music and fascism. Now one of those friendly YouTube pirates has brought this rare film online for everyone's watching pleasure, and this is what this person writes as accompaniment to the film:

    "Privilege, a cruelly compelling, often brilliant film ... the real star ... is director Peter Watkins, only 31, who must get credit for this acidly anti-establishment film ... the quasi-documentary touches he mastered on BBC money are sharply and effectively in evidence. And in his first full-length film, he shows he can use color with startling success. No doubt about it: Watkins is on his way.' (Playboy)

    'This is a bitter, uncompromising movie, and although it isn't quite successful it is fascinating and important. Watkins made a mistake in bringing the newsreel techniques of The War Game into a narrative film, where a director should be able to make his point with his story, the performances and the photography. Still the movie isn't a failure so much as an interesting episode in the career of a director who I think will eventually be ranked with Fellini and Bergman.' (Roger Ebert, Nov 1st, 1967)

    The national cinema circuit in the UK, J. Arthur Rank, refused to show this "immoral and un-Christian picture which mocked the Church, defied authority and encouraged youth in lewd practices". Universal Pictures withdrew the film after brief screenings in a few countries, and the film has been rarely shown since - very occasionally on TV. Universal Pictures in Hollywood even refuse to let the director rent or buy a copy of this film, even on VHS.

    For more information, visit the director's website:

    For a nice essay on the film, see:

    (I apologize for the godawful picture quality, it's the only version of the film I got, since Universal still refuses to give this film a PROPER DVD-release... So please see this as a chance to watch this rare film!) ..."

  • See also: Peter Watkins: The War Game (1965)
  • Friday, January 26, 2007

    Chris Marker: La Jetée (1962)

    La Jetée 1/3

    La Jetée 2/3

    La Jetée 3/3

    (Note: all subtitles here in Spanish)

    The trailer

    An excerpt dubbed in English

    La Jetée ("The Jetty", 1962) is a 28-minute post-nuclear war/time travel sci-fi film by Chris Marker (b. 1921), consisting entirely of black & white still images. La Jetée was remade in 1995 by ex-Monty Python member Terry Gilliam as Twelve Monkeys.

    Addition, 27 January 2007:

    The whole film @ Google Video (thanks for the tip: Jan/Jahsonic)

    Saturday, January 20, 2007

    More Tampere Exotica

    Tampere City Hall and Keskustori Central Plaza

    Some more YouTube footage from my hometown; this being the very area through which I stroll daily... quite exotic for you non-Finns, eh? Tee hee...

    Tampere Region Webcams

    Previous "exotic" Tampere footage

    Thursday, January 18, 2007

    Some Plagiarism and Songs Resembling Each Other Cases From Music History

    Zombie Nation: 'Kernkraft 400' (1999)

    Before the current Tempest vs. Timbaland case, claims of plagiarism go a long way back in music. Here are some (and more or less random) brief examples from the history of popular music, though these are only the proverbial tip of the iceberg of all the cases where an artist or his/her record label has claimed someone else has stolen his/her music... In the current day of "postmodern", "retro" type of pastiche pop where "ironic" references and "appropriations" (or "homages") abound everywhere, maybe it's harder to speak about plagiarism in any traditional terms, so it's interesting to see how our ideas about this will change in time.

  • The Kinks successfully sued The Doors for plagiarizing their 'All Day and All of the Night' to 'Hello, I Love You' in 1968.
  • 'Black Knight' (1970) by Deep Purple sounds very much like 'We Ain't Got Nothing Yet' by The Blues Magoos (of Nuggets) fame. Actually, Wikipedia says: "The riff to Deep Purple's 1970 'Black Night' single was closely based off the riff to Ricky Nelson's 1962 'Summertime' (Deep Purple have said this themselves). In fact, the riff is a popular one to borrow. In 1966/67 the Blue Magoos had 'We Ain't Got Nothing Yet' around the same time that Status Quo had own their version. But the riff seems to stem back to Ricky Nelson's 1962 rock version re-working of the old George Gershwin standard 'Summertime'".
  • George Harrison was sued for plagiarizing 'He's So Fine' by The Chiffons for his song 'My Sweet Lord' in a long-lasting law suit which started in 1971. Harrison was ordered to pay $587,000 to Bright Tunes Music (the owners of the song's copyright) in 1976, after a judge found him guilty of "subconscious" plagiarism. The Chiffons would later record 'My Sweet Lord' to capitalize on the publicity generated by the lawsuit.
  • Led Zeppelin used a riff from 'Taurus' by Spirit for their best-known song, 'Stairway to Heaven'. Spirit's guitarist Randy California was reportedly just happy to let Zeppelin to use the riff. Led Zeppelin was often also accused of using old blues songs uncredited as the basis of their own tracks. Also Bob Dylan has been accused along the years of "appropriating" old songs for his own tracks.
  • David Bowie's 1972 single 'Starman' has its chorus loosely based on Judy Garland's song 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow' from the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz.
  • There is said to be some resemblance between Bon Jovi's 'You Give Love A Bad Name' of 1986 and Belinda Carlisle's 1987 hit 'Heaven Is A Place On Earth'.
  • All unsold copies of 1987 (What the Fuck Is Going On?), the 1987 debut album of The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu (a.k.a. The KLF) were ordered to be destroyed by the Mechanical-Copyright Protection Society, following a complaint from ABBA; the JAMS having sampled large portions of ABBA's 'Dancing Queen' for the track 'Queen and I'.
  • De La Soul was sued by The Turtles members for featuring an uncredited sample (the intro to The Turtles' 'You Showed Me') in the song 'Transmitting Live from Mars' on De La Soul's 1989 debut album. This was one of the first court cases over sampling music.
  • Negativland issued in 1991 a single called 'U2', featuring parodies of the group U2's well-known song 'I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For', including kazoos and extensive sampling of the original song. U2's label Island Records sued Negativland and most copies of the single were recalled and destroyed.
  • For their 1997 track 'Bittersweet Symphony' -- using a licensed sample from the Andrew Oldham Orchestra's version of 'The Last Time' by The Rolling Stones (1965) -- The Verve (UK) was sued by ABKCO Records of Allen Klein, which owns the rights to The Stones' 60s recordings. ABCKO claimed The Verve had used "too much" of the sample. The matter was eventually settled out of court, with copyright of the song (which lyrics were written entirely by The Verve vocalist, Richard Ashcroft) reverting to ABKCO and songwriting credits to Mick Jagger and Keith Richards of The Stones.
  • Splank of Zombie Nation had to pay an undisclosed amount to David Whittaker, the programmer who wrote the original music riff to 80s Commodore-64 computer game 'Lazy Jones', which was used as the basis of Zombie Nation's 1999 hit 'Kernkraft 400'.
  • 'Älä koskaan ikinä' ("Don't You Never Ever"), the 2003 hit for Finnish band Egotrippi is said by some to bear a considerable resemblance to Procol Harum's 1975 track 'Pandora's Box'.
  • Monday, January 15, 2007

    Timbaland Accused Of Ripping Off A Finnish Musician

    "Producer Timbaland steals song from finnish musician"

    I picked this off pHinnWeb's Mailing List and Wikipedia's entry for the US producer Timbaland:

    It is now claimed that Janne Suni a.k.a. Tempest a.k.a. Damage, a Finnish demoscene musician/graphic artist (who has also done cover art for Jyväskylä's Rikos Records), has had 'Acid Jazzed Evening', one of his tracks, blatantly ripped by the well-known hip-hop/R&B producer Timbaland on Nelly Furtado's song 'Do It' for her album Loose.

    The said track is from a Commodore 64 conversion of an Amiga .mod file made by the Finnish demoscener Janne Suni. The track was entered into a music competition at Assembly 2000, a demo party held in Helsinki, Finland in the year 2000. Tempest's entry 'Acid Jazzed Evening', a 4-channel Amiga .mod won first place in the "Oldskool Music" competition. According to the song was uploaded to their servers in 2000, long before the release of the song by Furtado. A video which claims to show proof of the theft was posted to YouTube on January 12, 2007. It's yet unknown whether Janne Suni will ever be able take the case to the court, the prospects of winning a court case against a major record label-backed international celebrity artist being very slight; not to talk about any astronomical expenses involved in losing a case like that.

    A thread @ Digg

    2007 Timbaland plagiarism controversy @ Wikipedia

    Plenty of links @ Pelamu.Net

    Related news links in Finnish:

  • Iltalehti
  • Iltasanomat
  • Stara
  • YLE

    17 January 2007 addition:

    This one reminds me of the case of UR's DJ Rolando/Aztec Mystic against Sony/BMG's cover version of his 'Knights of the Jaguar' in 2000:

    I remember the Jaguar case caused a very angry response in dance music community towards Sony/BMG and generated lots of negative publicity, so similarly I think now only a massive media exposure and pressure from fellow musicians/music fans/journalists etc. all over the world might help Tempest/Janne Suni getting his due compensation here.

    As it was pointed out in media articles above, any court case against Timbaland and his multinational record label (with their mighty army of highly-paid corporate lawyers; just remember the OJ Simpson case...) would probably be lost (as said, not to talk about another additional injury caused by the case's expenses) by Tempest or anyone representing him. So it seems to me some sort of out-of-court settlement would be the only realistic outcome here.

  • Some plagiarism and songs resembling each other cases from music history
  • Sunday, January 14, 2007

    Yello: You Gotta Say Yes to Another Excess (1983)

    Yello: 'Lost Again' (1983)

    Yello: 'I Love You' (1983)

    I've now been listening to Yello's remastered 1983 album You Gotta Say Yes to Another Excess. Yello, the ingenious synthpop duo of Boris Blank (b. 1952) and Dieter Meier (b. 1945) (the third member, Carlos Peron, stayed with Yello until 1983) was in their 1980s heyday known for their extremely eclectic approach (being probably a bit too obvious, I shudder to use the term "postmodern" here...), combining to electronic sounds Latin rhythms and other yesteryear lounge music-type exotica (perhaps Angelo Badalamenti's jazzy moods for David Lynch's works would come close here), night club torch songs, film noir melodrama and offbeat humour with outlandish narratives, making Yello's music unlike any other synthpop act of the day's futurist/New Romantic wave; still sounding fresh today in comparison to many of their contemporaries. Yello originates from Switzerland, the country which also gave us Carl Gustav Jung, Hermann Hesse, LSD (which Albert Hoffman synthesized in Sandoz Laboratories in 1938), and H.R. Giger, the artist behind Alien designs and his hellish airbrush visions. Something odd in the water in the cuckoo-clock country...?

  • More Yello videos @ YouTube
  • Listen to Yello @ MySpace
  • Wednesday, January 10, 2007

    'Moscow 1980' - Javelin Remix (feat. Larkin Grimm)

    Here's for a limited time Javelin's remix of Kompleksi vs. Polytron's 'Moscow 1980'. The vocals were sung by Larkin Grimm, Annelise Grimm and Tom Van Buskirk of Javelin "in a warm attic in Georgia". Javelin hail from Providence, RI, USA, and have released a 7" called 'Oh Centra' for Finnish Lal Lal Lal; the same label also releasing Kompleksi's first 7" '(I Ain't) No Lovechild' in 2005.

    original lyrics

    Saturday, January 06, 2007

    Caetano Veloso on Avantgarde

    Varèse/Xénakis/Le Corbusier: 'Poeme Électronique' (1958)

    Caetano Veloso -- one of the most important names behind the late-60s Brazilian musical movement Tropicalismo (a.k.a. Tropicália) -- writes in his 2002 autobiography Tropical Truth: A Story of Music & Revolution in Brazil (originally Verdade Tropical, 1997) about avantgarde and its problematic connection with popular music:

    "In 1968, Augusto [de Campos, a 'concretist' poet friend of Veloso since the 1960s] was impressed with Paul McCartney's declared enthusiasm for Stockhausen. Yet in the years that followed, as he was listening to the sweet and spineless pop produced by Paul -- music whose transgression was totally programmatic and digestible following the spectacular growth of the pop market after the Beatles -- a man like Augusto, one can only imagine, must have been filled with boredom and distaste. He must have felt the same toward pop music, MPB, and the tropicalistas. Sooner or later we, the tropicalistas, in more or less noble ways, depending on the individual case, would show signs of the essence of our chosen activity, which has always consisted in producing banal songs to compete in the market. (And in Brazil the growth of this market means an advance on the national scale.) Augusto keeps on fighting for unpopular music: Boulez, Stockhausen, Berio, Varèse, and Cage -- and also Giacinto Scelsi, Luigi Nono, Ustvolskaya, etc. The stubborn unpopularity of the most inventive contemporary music is truly a mystery. Augusto's flash of euphoria when he heard of McCartney's (ultimately undeveloped) interest in Stockhausen in 1968 represented a fleeting hope of deciphering this enigma. Produssumo, as I said earlier, was a word invented by another concretist poet, Décio Pignatari, to define a period in which avant-garde ideas had a place at the top of the pop-rock charts. One of the most stimulating problems of the avant-garde, and a problem that makes some of the most stimulating artists run from it like the Devil from the cross -- is its dubious position with regard to its intrinsic ambition to become the norm. I have recently heard Arto Lindsay say that the musicians and producers of the trendiest vogue in dance music (techno) are voracious consumers of precisely the kind of music heroically defended by Augusto. These young people are listening to Varèse and Cage, to Boulez and Berio. And, says Arto, they don't talk about anything else. What should we make of this? In the seventies, there was already an outcry of very conservative (and very useful) voices protesting 'modernism in the streets.' But will the collective ear adjust itself to postserialist or postdodecaphonic music? And what kind of world will it be, when such music sounds like music to 'everyone's' ears? I myself can't say exactly why Webern's music (especially the most radical pieces) has always seemed to me indisputably beautiful. Might the techno-dance kids be an embryonic minority? What will happen to the tonal ear as we know it if unpopular music's failure with the public at large is overcome? When I first saw MTV in New York, I wrote an article entitled 'Vendo canções' (See and Sell Things), in which I ask more or less superficial questions but still point in the same direction. The procedures of avant-garde film, which were trashed by serious and commercial cinema alike, had finally found refuge in those snippets of rock 'n' roll film, which were at once erratic illustrations of the songs and ads for the corresponding records. Now I can't stand to watch rock videos for very long: the excess of images labouring to seem bizarre bores me, especially at the speed the editing presents them. But the question remains: don't the references to Un chien andalou, to Metropolis -- and the undying kinship with Cocteau's Blood of a Poet -- appear in a rock video exactly as Mondrian's designs flash across the skirt of a prostitute? Are 'modernisms' and 'avantgardes' only now beginning to lose their right to such labels?"

  • Caetano Veloso search results @ YouTube
  • Tropicália article, info & video links @ pHinnWeb
  • Friday, January 05, 2007

    The Future Already Happened

    Kasabian: 'Shoot The Runner'

    I was just lazily channel-surfing one night when I spotted this video by a UK band called Kasabian, supposedly one of those fashionable post-Britpop acts now championed by England's indierock Bible NME.

    This song sounded to me like a sort of combination of early 70s glamrock's stomping boogie beat with the pyrotechnics guitar psychedelia of late 60s; with even some organ sounds in the middle eight reminiscing of Pink Floyd's 'One of These Days'. The Kasabian video itself could be called quite Beatle-esque, with its rotoscope animation and UV light/day-glo colours reminiscing of the 1968 cartoon film Yellow Submarine, and the singer even wearing a sort of 19th century military jacket donned by The Beatles members (and Jimi Hendrix, too) during their Sergeant Pepper era. Add to this some Jackson Pollock abstract expressionism paint splashes also favoured by The Stone Roses.

    My ongoing gripe has been for a long time that rock these days seems to be merely some retroist nostalgia pastiche trip whereas once that genre of music could even be called genuinely futuristic. Not futuristic in the science fiction sense of having such imagery as robots (the number one cliché in electro), faster-than-light spaceships and so on, but being futuristic music in the sense that it looked joyously into the future and tried to create something totally new by the very way it was conceived, arranged and produced. 'Strawberry Fields Forever' by The Beatles in 1967 or Giorgio Moroder's production for Donna Summer's 'I Feel Love' about ten years later were in this sense futuristic music for their own eras. Whereas a band or a musical act in 2007 trying to emulate the sounds of George Martin's productions for The Beatles or Moroder's proto-Italodisco would be helplessly retroist. So, even if I could enjoy a track by a current band like Kasabian as a clever and well-executed retroist pastiche of my favourite yesteryear bands, my enjoyment can't be totally and thoroughly honest and unreserved. Well, I'm totally aware that my personal quest for that genuine futurism in today's music is just completely naïve and not a little bit Quixotic.

    Could such genres currently in vogue as grime or dubstep offer me that elusive sense of being honestly "future music", then? There was a time when even the most blatant chart pop bands could at least pretend they had some sort of social agenda in their music, but these days it's very hard to find anything like that in the psychopathic drive-by shooting fantasies of hip-hop and the empty bling-bling hedonism of R&B: for example, Lethal Bizzle's grime classic 'Forward Riddim' includes such lyrical strokes of genius as: "Killa killa real deal/Niggas know the real deal/Don't care how you feel/I will be cockin' back my steel straight/Bullets bullets run run/Fire fire bun/If you don't like killa killa/Nigga you can suck your mum". But well, you can't really blame the mirror for only reflecting its environment, can you? (Probably with grime and dubstep I would be more interested in sounds and production, anyway, than whatever lyrical content they might claim to have.) Once people actually thought they can change the world with music. From a traditional leftist-Marxist point of view there seems not to be much room for any social commentary in the early 21st century music, which is rather emphasizing the instant emotional gratification than creating any uneasy questions in a listener.

    Kung Faux

    An excerpt from 'Ill Master', the first episode Kung Faux

    Kung Faux just started in Finland, being an American TV series cannibalizing old Hong Kong kung-fu movies and dubbing to them a new dialogue of typical American hip-hop vernacular and music (plus additional split screens and animated "Biff! Bang! Pow!" comic book effects of the 60s original Batman show). This sort of idea of creating comedy spoofs of existing material by adding new dialogue is nothing new in itself: Woody Allen already had that in What's Up, Tiger Lily? (1966), where a "serious" Japanese spy movie was "remixed" to some comical effects. Well, as a "postmodern" gimmick Kung Faux seems to be interesting, deriving a lot of its appeal also from the fact that American hip-hop culture (and related club music -- just see J. Saul Kane) has always been influenced by Hong Kong's kung-fu genre -- acts like Wu-Tang Clan being among some of the biggest proponents -- so the connection already exists, but I don't really know about the lasting joke value of this one...

  • More Kung Faux search results @ YouTube
  • Thursday, January 04, 2007

    Kompleksi/Polytron: 'Moscow 1980' - Javelin RMX

    Here's for a limited time Javelin's remix of Kompleksi vs. Polytron's 'Moscow 1980'. Javelin are a duo from Providence, RI, USA who have released a 7" called 'Oh Centra' for Finnish Lal Lal Lal; the same label also releasing Kompleksi's first 7" '(I Ain't) No Lovechild' in 2005.

    Tuesday, January 02, 2007