Tuesday, April 19, 2005

New Weird of Finland @ Pitchfork -- Arttu Mouths Off

There's an interview/scene primer at Pitchfork Media about this so called New Weird Of Finland scene, meaning bands and labels concentrated on experimental-psychedelic-folk-freejazz-improvisation type of music. If you have followed The Wire magazine or some more underground type of music publications lately, you must have noticed that this is the hottest thing in music coming out of this country now, and not any more the minimal electronic music of Pan sonic or Mika Vainio (well, that's just their opinion).

As noted in the Pitchfork story, though, you can snicker any time when you can hear some of these non-Finnish journalists using the notorious term "the mystical forests of Finland", or especially "the mystical forests of Tampere", since this town consists more of dusty red-brick factories and smokestacks than of any hippie-ish pastoral idylls (as evidenced here and here). Tampere's suburbs and surroundings are a different thing, though... (Not to talk about my own personal vision of the Tampere town...)

Anyway, here's a funny excerpt from the interview:

"Many [early Finnish musicians] were technologically oriented; it was all about the new wonderful computers," says Arttu Partinen of Avarus, noisy jazz monsters Hetero Skeleton, and the Lal Lal Lal label. "Some such as Erkki Kurenniemi have futuristic utopias about computers taking over, and [that] being a good thing. After hearing one of Kurenniemi'a lectures, I decided I didn't want to have anything to do with his music."

Tsk tsk, Arttu... well, but before you jump into any conclusions, I know Arttu (the pic above) and like the guy; and even though we've had our different opinions on electronic music in the past, I've done some collaboration with him, DJed at his great Mental Alaska club, and his Lal Lal Lal will also soon release '(I Ain't No) Lovechild', the first 7" of our Kompleksi project. (Plus there will be another big project where both and Arttu will participate in, but you will only hear about it later.) In fact, if there is any local underground music scene, for me, Mr. Arttu Partinen is one person to whom you may say it personifies in.


Well, more Arttu's (and other Finns' adventures at Glasgow's Subcurrent festival in April 2005, as written down by David Keenan in his Wire diary:

"Backstage Partinen is drunk as hell and in everybody's face. He corners Nolan with the news that Virgin Eye Blood Brother suck. Nolan stays cool and shrugs it off, despite Partinen comparing them to '80s indie shoegazing'. It's only when he starts muttering about 'dudes' to himself and how he's gonna blow Wolf Eyes off-stage that Mike Bernstein of Double Leopards shoots me a look that says, this guy may end up on the pavement before the night's out. It's getting sweaty back here."

"Everyone has been waiting for Avarus -- Partinen won't let anyone forget them -- and they don't disappoint. Although there are extended sections of surreal gonzo humour (with Partinen spending long, uncomfortable minutes mock-masturbating an inflated balloon) when they do kick in they have all of the monumental, lumbering power of Silence-era groups like International Harvester. Kemialliset Ystävät -- like Es before them -- sound pretty different from what they do on record, with a ragged, loose quality to their sound that seems inspired as much by the interstellar improvisations of Syd-era Pink Floyd as much as UK free-form groups like The A-Band and Vibracathedral Orchestra."

"Suddenly The Fins are on the floor -- as well as some un-named guy who has cut his hair like Thurston Moore and who keeps running over to the deck and shaking his fist in the air -- and it's then that Niko-Matti Ahti drops in the moves that make his name at the fest, shaking his ass with the kind of abandon rarely seen in public. They send in the security to ask him to dance 'more sedately'. They know he's dangerous."