Tuesday, January 27, 2009

WhoMadeWho: 'This Train' video by Chicks on Speed

WhoMadeWho: 'This Train' (2009)

A new music video of WhoMadeWho (Denmark), directed by Chicks on Speed. 'This Train' is from WhoMadeWho's forthcoming album The Plot, out 23 March 2009.

Friday, January 23, 2009

S.H.I.E.L.D. Art by Steranko

The very first issue of Nick Fury's own title with psychedelic lettering and patterns.

The "S.H.I.E.L.D. Origin Issue", with some OP art designs.

A striking science fiction cover; too bad the story inside was not by Steranko and had nothing to do with the sleeve art.

A surrealist art-inspired cover also reminiscing the films of Alfred Hitchcock (who, in fact, collaborated with Salvador Dalí for Spellbound.)

Through Facebook, I recently got hooked up again with Canadian Tony Robertson, who maintains an excellent tribute site to American comic book artist and illustrator Jim Steranko. As a fan of the artist's work, I used to host my own Steranko tribute under pHinnWeb during the late-90s, but eventually gave up the site (partly because of worrying about the copyright issues) and let Tony "adopt" for his own site the Steranko-related material I had gathered together so far (including the 1983 Amazing Heroes and 1989 Betty Pages feature stories on Steranko).

James "Jim" Steranko (b. 1938), known in the industry only as Steranko, is best known for his take on the Marvel Comics character Nick Fury -- who started his life as a WWII hero Sgt. Fury, now promoted to the rank of Colonel as the head of a spy organization S.H.I.E.L.D., wearing a futuristic jumpsuit and also rejuvenated with a mystical youth serum -- which started in 1965 through Strange Tales magazine; the character receiving his own title, Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D, in 1968. S.H.I.E.L.D. (Supreme Headquarters International Espionage Law-enforcement Division) was inspired by other fictional spy organizations like U.N.C.L.E. (of the TV show Man from U.N.C.L.E.), when Marvel Comics decided to jump in to the secret agent craze popular in the mid-60s after the phenomenal success of James Bond movies.

For Nick Fury, Steranko developed a totally new flashy narrative style he called "Zap Art", based on the groundwork made by Marvel stalwart Jack Kirby and then further inspired by psychedelia, OP art and surrealism. Marvel Comics titles such as The Fantastic Four and Dr. Strange had already appealed to the hippie generation with their spectacular cosmic visions, and Steranko was consciously to apply to his own works the psychedelic visual style familiar from the rock posters and record covers of the era. Also Will Eisner's Spirit and Eisner's cinematic photomontage-like style of "consequential art" informed Steranko; furthermore, the influence of classic comic book illustrators like Hal Foster of Prince Valiant (large splash pages with long descriptive text captions) and Russ Manning's (Tarzan and Magnus, Robot Fighter) fantasy landscapes were there, also Wally Wood's striking style Wood used in his horror and sci-fi comics. As a writer Steranko ofter favoured elliptical narratives with theatrical pulp fiction style drawing inspiration from hard-boiled crime fiction, sci-fi and even Gothic horror style.

Steranko, who also had worked as a stage magician, was fascinated by all sorts of games and complicated labyrinth designs, so Nick Fury was seen adventuring in several intricate (and psychedelic) mazes the arch-villains like Hydra had set up for him. The dialogue, with Nick Fury's hard-nut war veteran/bar brawl "Brooklynese", with tough-guy expressions like "flapping one's gums" (= talking too much), sounds now often comically corny and contrived, but hey, isn't that the case, too, when reading also other Marvel titles of the era? Anyway, Steranko might be remembered as a great "postmodern" synthesist, who combined different existing styles to create his own visual narrative (and in his turn influenced other artists like French Philippe Druillet, who took Steranko's psychedelic OP art style and used it for his own byzanthine Lone Sloane in the 70s).

Steranko's hectic working schedule for Marvel took its toll and he finally left the company in 1969. After that he worked briefly for some horror and romance comics titles of other publishers, before establishing his own Supergraphics company, which published two volumes of The Steranko History of Comics in 1970 and 1972, also the magazine Comixscene, which then evolved into Mediascene and finally Prevue, lasting until 1994.

Steranko also provided illustrations for several pulp novels, some comics books and pin-ups. Chandler: Red Tide was a 1976 film noir-inspired "graphic novel" entirely created by Steranko. 1981 saw the comic book adaptation of Outland, a Peter Hyams sci-fi thriller based on the classic Western High Noon and apparently influenced by the bleak-corporate-future visual style of Ridley Scott's Alien. Steranko's Outland was serialised in the legendary Heavy Metal magazine.

Steranko also worked as a conceptual artist for the films Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) and Bram Stoker's Dracula by Francis Ford Coppola (1992). Marvel's attempts to lure Steranko back creating Nick Fury comics were unsuccessful, though he did create some revived S.H.I.E.L.D. title mini-series cover illustrations. These days Steranko is considered an elder statesman of comic book art, still doing occasional cover art and more "femme fatale" pin-ups.

For more on Steranko, check both Wikipedia and Tony's site for countless examples of Steranko's art.

The uncensored illustration of Nick Fury's girlfriend Countess Valentina. Marvel Comics, in their infinite wisdom, blackened out in the published version the curvy details of La Contessa's buttocks, perhaps thinking they would be too much for the imaginations of the boy readers who had just entered their puberty...

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Pekka Streng: Unen maa (CD)

Artist: Pekka Streng & Olympia-Orkesteri
Title: Unen maa
Format: CD
Publication code: 50999 694030 2 6
ICPN number: 50999 694030 2 6
Date: 21 January 2009
Record label: EMI Finland


1. Noidat ("The witches")
2. Sinua ikävöin ("I miss you")
3. Olen rakastunut ("I'm in love")
4. Olet onnellinen ("You're happy")
5. Aapeli ("Abel")
6. Metsästäjä ("The hunter")
7. Sammakko Sim ("Sim the frog")
8. Topi Jäppisen koti ("The home of Topi Jäppinen")
9. Itsemurhatalon luona ("By the suicide house")
10. Suruperhonen ("The butterfly of sorrow")
11. Keijut ("The elves")
12. Sinä aamuna ("That morning")
13. Kohtalo ("Fate")
14. Muumipeikon tassuttelu ("The treading of Moomintroll")
15. Luumupuupoika ("The plum tree boy")

Pekka Streng (26 April 1948 - 11 April 1975) was a Finnish artist whose recorded music was a combination of folk and psychedelia with some jazzy flavour and occasional electronic experimentation. He died of cancer only two weeks before his 27th birthday, but his two albums, Magneettimiehen kuolema ("The Death of Magnet Man", 1970) and Kesämaa ("Summerland", 1972), have assured him a huge posthumous cult following and influential position even among those fans who hadn't been born at the time of his death. Pekka Streng's mystique is increased by the fact that he avoided publicity all his life, giving only one interview, which was published after his death in 1978.

Many artists of the current Finnish psychedelic folk/"New Weird of Finland" scene, such as Sami Sänpäkkilä of Es and Fonal Records, have openly admitted their debt to Pekka Streng. Also Sähkö Recordings' sublabel Jazzpuu re-released in 2001 as a 12" the original and extended versions of Streng's posthumous "cult hit" 'Puutarhassa' ("In the garden"), a jazzy and bossanova-like song out of Kesämaa. (Though the biggest fan favourite by Pekka Streng still remains 'Sisältäni portin löysin', "I found a gate inside me", an esoteric-psychedelic inner journey folk excursion out of Magneettimiehen kuolema).

In the late 1960s Pekka Streng was an active member of Ylioppilasteatteri, Helsinki's Student Theatre, appearing among all as one of the extras of Risto Jarva's science fiction film Ruusujen aika (1969). 1969 was generally a busy year for Pekka Streng: his ten-part radio play adaptation of J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan premiered for YLE in January-February, the same year his two other radio plays were aired: Papiljonttinainen ("The curler woman"), which was meant for children, and the psychedelic collage Kreivi von Krolockin hymyn variaatiot ("The variations of Count von Krolock's smile"), both based on Streng's own texts and featuring also his songs. Furthermore, 1969 saw the release of Streng's first single, 'Pieni juhlija' ("A small partygoer"; out of Tove Jansson's poem), recorded with the band called Ellipsi for Love Records, which were also to publish Pekka Streng's two legendary albums.

The subjects of Pekka Streng's music, with its tender folk leanings, concentrate on fairy tales, Eastern mysticism and spiritualism, social criticism and so on, with a strong humanist emphasis. On his first album, Streng was backed by the musicians of the Finnish prog-rock band Tasavallan Presidentti, and the second -- more lavish in its jazzy orchestration -- had on it some of the best jazz and rock musicians in Finland.

Unen maa ("The land of dream") consists of the demo material meant for Streng's planned third album, which never materialized during the artist's lifetime. The earliest songs originate from the late 60s, the latest apparently from 1973 and 1974. These demo recordings have been the Streng family's property since Pekka Streng's demise in 1975. It took over three decades and an enormous amount of background work and lobbying from the admirers of the late artist (such as the journalist Suonna Kononen and documentary film director Arto Halonen) until Pekka Streng's son Joonia Streng, now working as a lawyer, gave green light to the publication of the material and EMI of Finland took interest.

Unen maa has 15 previously unreleased Pekka Streng songs; two of them in their original form, the rest as versions arranged by producer Jukka Hakoköngäs and Olympia-Orkesteri out of the original monophonic reel-to-reel demos by Pekka Streng. The demo recordings featured only Streng's vocals and guitar to which Olympia-orkesteri added other instrumentation, after environmental noise had been removed from the tapes.

The sleeve art of Unen maa is by Sonja Lehto, Pekka Streng's sister, who also designed the covers for his Magneettimiehen kuolema and Kesämaa albums.

Arto Halonen is working on a documentary film on Pekka Streng, due autumn 2009.

Personnel on Unen maa:

  • Pekka Streng: vocals, guitar

  • Jukka Hakoköngäs: grand piano, "Aunt Bertha" B3, Nord Wave, Nord 2X, Prophet '08, Moog Voyager, Mopho, percussion, guitar, bass
  • Anssi Nykänen: drums, percussion
  • Jarno T. Karjalainen: bass
  • Timo Kämäräinen: guitars, vocals
  • Jukka Perko: soprano saxophone

    Unen maa info in Finnish @ EMI Finland

    Pekka Streng with son Joonia

  • Pekka Streng - a tribute site in Finnish

  • Pekka Streng discography @ Discogs

    Articles in Finnish:

  • Lauluja haudan takaa @ Karjalainen

    Pekka Streng audio & video links:

  • Memories of Pekka Streng: one audio clip and one video clip @ YLE Elävä Arkisto
  • Audio excerpts of Pekka Streng's radio plays @ YLE Elävä Arkisto

  • Pekka Streng search results @ YouTube

    Additional material @ pHinnWeb:

  • Psychedelic music (and garage rock) in Finland
  • The Early Years of Finnish Electronic Music & Avantgarde
  • Tuesday, January 20, 2009

    Orbital feat. Grant Fulton: 'Belfast/Wasted' (1992)

    Orbital feat. Grant Fulton: 'Belfast/Wasted' (1992)

    Yet another oldie music video to alleviate the January boredom... This is the magnificent vocal version of Orbital's track 'Belfast', with Gregorian chant samples and Grant Fulton as the guest singer; one of the best things the Brothers Hartnoll ever did, in fact.

    This track was originally released in May 1992 on #3 of Volume (1991 - 1997), a British CD booklet-sized music magazine carrying a CD of alternative and indie-dance artists' exclusive tracks, unreleased remixes and interviews from the same artists. Unfortunately Volume proved to be a too ambitious project for the music magazine market, folding after 17 issues and some extra compilations. I remember the magazine fondly, having introduced me to many new artists in its day. 'Belfast/Wasted' received a justified re-release on the 2-CD Wasted - The Best of Volume Part 1 (1995) and even as limited edition 12".

    You were brought up like a boy,
    but now you think your life's a pill.
    With its love for yourself,
    ticking to its timeless soundtrack.

    You point the finger
    as you carry the flag.
    I don't pay attention.
    Do you like the dust we breathe?
    Do you recommend yourself
    to my gentle senses?

    I feel wasted.

    Depth Charge: 'Mecha Squirrel' (12", DC Recordings)

    Artist: Depth Charge
    Artist: Mecha Squirrel
    Format: 12"/digital download
    Cat.no.: DCR80
    Record label: DC Recordings (UK)
    Date: 23 February 2009


    1. Mecha Squirrel [Part 1] (5:49)
    2. Mecha Squirrel [Part 2] (4:17)
    3. Shy (6:00)


    Written & produced by J. Saul Kane.
    Recorded at Iron Monkey. Mastered by Mike at The Exchange.

    Press release notes:

    The creation of 'Mecha Squirrel' has been a long and arduous struggle between the various machinations that inhabit J. Saul Kane's mind. In the lengthy hiatus since his last release under the Depth Charge moniker (2004's 'Hi Voltage Man') his musings have taken many points of focus: the homeless cats of North-West London, the aesthetic charms of Japanese bubblegum machine cards, but always in the background has loomed the ferrous monstrosity of Mecha Squirrel.

    Drawing on arcane lore, 'Mecha Squirrel' transports you to a new sonic galaxy that is emergent in Kane's mind although very much keeping with his own tradition of powerful rhythmic electro, razor-sharp breaks and bizarre sonic ruptures. Augmented by the spoken word mythologizing of an unknown narrator -- Part 1 -- and then rendered at its most percussive and dancefloor-focused -- Part 2 -- 'Mecha Squirrel' evokes the dual dimensions of Kane's deviant imagination at its most promiscuous.

    B-side 'Shy' sees this imagination's more sordid dimension giving vent to the funk of potent pent-up creative forces. Polyrhythmic percussion lines drive a P-Funk swagger around staccato melodies and off-kilter electro bass, whilst demented voices evoke unknown orgiastic pleasures. The genesis of these we can but guess at, but the heightened activity at Kane's Iron Monkey studio promises more to come...

    Higamos Hogamos (DC Recordings)

    Artist: Higamos Hogamos
    Title: Major Blitzkrieg
    Format: 12"/digital download
    Cat.no.: DCR98
    Record label: DC Recordings (UK)
    Date: 23 February 2009


    1. Major Blitzkrieg (2:36)
    2. Major Blitzkrieg [Mickey Moonlight remix] (4:01)
    3. Major Blitzkrieg [Depth Charge Buzzer remix] (5:56)


    Written by Steve Webster & Toby Jenkins.
    Produced by Steve Webster.

    Press release notes:

    Higamos Hogamos is the new project of Steve Webster (Black Neon, Fort Lauderdale) and Toby Jenkins (Zan Pan, The Squire of Somerton, Fort Lauderdale) and 'Major Blitzkrieg' is their debut single for DC Recordings, an explosive swagger of anthemic fury that perfectly sets out their sonic manifesto: to fuse together their fetishism for analogue synthesizers with the sexual exuberance of 70s rock n' roll!

    As will be apparent on the forthcoming eponymous album (due 16th March 2009) 'Major Blitzkrieg' displays but one dimension of this formidable duo's repertoire (to follow) will be another single featuring the space age pop of 'Infinity Plus One') yet its electro-fied quality immediately caught the attention of DC overlord J. Saul Kane, whose re-emergence in the guise of Depth Charge is manifest here in his schizoid "Buzzer" remix. Augmenting the original sonic textures with a ferocious electronic bass line and numerous divergent rhythms and unidentifiable noises, this is an audacious concoction that will shake the bravest dancefloors.

    Mickey Moonlight, fresh from the stunning rework of Sun Ra's 'Interplanetary' (Ed Banger Records) also remixes the original, introducing tongue-drum melodies and high-life guitars; congotronic percussion going head to head with pulses of Higamos' original to make a dancefloor remix of sultry tropical charm.

    Watch out for Higamos Hogamos live dates in early 2009 and the forth-coming self-titled album release in March.

    Artist: Higamos Hogamos
    Title: Higamos Hogamos
    Format: CD, LP and digital download
    Cat.no.: DCR99
    Record label: DC Recordings (UK)
    Date: 23 March 2009


    1. Infinity Plus One (2:57)
    2. Black Forest Gateaux (3:54)
    3. The Future Hides Its Face (3:04)
    4. Major Blitzkrieg (2:37)
    5. B'aby (2:54)
    6. The Creeper (3:22)
    7. Little Switch (2:32)
    8. Moto Neurono (7:19)
    9. Something's Got A Hold On Me (2:11)
    10. The Illuminoids (5:05)


    Written & played by Steve Webster & Toby Jenkins.
    Lyrics for 1. are adapted from the poem 'Infinity Plus One' written by Michelle McLeod.
    Produced & mixed by Steve Webster at Clifden Road, except:

    1. Additional mix, production & drums by J. Saul Kane.
    3., 5., 6., 7. & 9. mixed by Steve Webster & J. Saul Kane.

    Stipo Androvic plays bass on 1. & 8.

    Press release notes:

    DC Recordings proudly present HIGAMOS HOGAMOS, the eponymous debut album from Steve Webster and Toby Jenkins, already infamous for their former incarnations as Black Neon, Squire of Somerton and Fort Lauderdale, but bringing together here the first fruits of their latest project - the unfathomable sound of Higamos Hogamos.

    The album begins with the uplifting space age pop of 'Infinity Plus One' (to be released as a single with remixes by The Emperor Machine and more in April 2009), an anthemic opener that gives way to the warm tones of 'Black Forest Gateaux' - rich with strains of Can and Harmonia and classic 70s Kosmische sounds. If Krautrock is one touchstone for the Higamos sound, then Bolan-esque swagger is another, as evidenced by the shimmering future glam of 'The Future Hides Its Face'.

    The psychedelic romp of 'Major Blitzkrieg' brings yet another flavour to the Higamos brew. This track has been reworked for a single released 16th February by Depth Charge and Mickey Moonlight. Track like 'Moto Neurono' display remarkable mutating musicianship. 'Little Switch' strays into wacked-out territories, somewhere between the wyrd canon of British psychedelia and lo-fi garage rock, whilst 'The Illuminoids' concludes the album by steering off into motorik infinity.

    Somehow Higamos Hogamos integrate the discerning musical influences with an energy and humour that has resulted in an ineffably futuristic sound and a hugely beguiling debut album. Higamos Hogamos will be supporting the release of their album by playing selected live dates from January 2009 onwards.

    Friday, January 16, 2009

    Patrick McGoohan, No. 6 of The Prisoner (1928 - 2009)

    Patrick McGoohan as No. 6 in The Prisoner: "I am not a number, I am a free man!"

    The Prisoner opening credits/sequence

    Patrick McGoohan has died at the age of 80. The Irish-American actor appeared in such films as Ice Station Zebra (which was the favourite film of Howard Hughes, the one the hermit millionare kept watching repeatedly), Escape from Alcatraz, Scanners and Braveheart; and such TV shows as Danger Man and Columbo (for which he received two Emmy Awards).

    However, the one from which McGoohan will be best remembered for was The Prisoner, a British-made cult TV series of 17 episodes, first aired in between 1967 and 1968. A brainchild of McGoohan, who also starred in the series as an ex-agent only called "No.6", The Prisoner was a combination of spy genre very much in vogue in the 60s, science fiction, psychological drama and even socio-political allegory, which reflected the turbulent spirit of its time, as if James Bond had been rewritten by a team of George Orwell, Herbert Marcuse and Harold Pinter.

    Every episode followed the attempts of No. 6 to escape from a mysterious place called The Village (an obvious reference to the then-fashionable works of Marshall McLuhan) where he was held by his captors trying to get out of him "by hook or by crook" the information behind the reason of his having resigned from the Secret Service. No. 6/McGoohan's trademark outcry "I'm not a number, I'm a free man!" appealed to the rebellious youth of the 60s but also those who were afraid of State's power over the individual: The Prisoner has spawned endless interpretations as to the real meaning behind the show and continues to intrigue both fans and critics. McGoohan's production company Everyman took its name from a 15th-century English morality play, which gave a clue to The Prisoner's allegorical nature in its handling of such universal topics as politics, war, individual's rights and so on.

  • Patrick McGoohan and The Prisoner @ Feuilleton
  • Thursday, January 15, 2009

    Florian Schneider Leaves Kraftwerk

    Kraftwerk: 'Die Roboter' (ZDF live, 1978)

    The founding member Florian Schneider (b. 1947) has left Kraftwerk on 21 November 2008. The reason was not made public, but Pitchfork Media told last year about "Kraftwerk Drama: Alleged Beef With Kling Klang, Florian Schneider Missing From U.S. Tour". The remaining members of Kraftwerk intend to continue touring at least for the time being, with gigs in South America, Mexico and Germany announced for March and April 2009.

  • More @ Synthtopia

  • Kraftwerk links @ pHinnWeb
  • Krautrock @ pHinnWeb
  • Ricardo Montalbán, Khan of Star Trek (1920 - 2009)

    An excerpt from The Wrath of Khan (1982)

    American actor Ricardo Montalbán (1920 - 2009) has died. Montalbán is probably best remembered by many as the superhuman villain Khan Noonien Singh of the 1967 Star Trek episode "Space Seed", the role which he reprised in 1982 in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, one of the best films in the otherwise uneven series. Montalbán was also known from many other TV roles and film appearances among all in the sequels of The Planet of the Apes.

    Pekka Pohjola: 'Dancing in the Dark' (1981)

    I recently wrote here about the death of bassist and multi-instrumentalist Pekka Pohjola, one of best known Finnish musicians internationally. Now YLE Elävä Arkisto presents a video clip of his 'Dancing in the Dark', taped in February 1981. The line-up is: Pekka Pohjola (bass), Seppo Tyni (guitar), Pekka Tyni (keyboards), Ismo Kätkä (drums), Esa "Nätsi" Rosvall (percussion).

  • Pekka Pohjola: 'Dancing in the Dark' - video link & background info in Finnish
  • Wednesday, January 14, 2009

    Miss Kittin & The Hacker: 'Frank Sinatra' (1998)

    Miss Kittin & The Hacker: 'Frank Sinatra' (1998)

  • More Miss Kittin video clips @ YouTube

    Miss Kittin (born 1973 as Caroline Hervé in Grenoble, France) released in 1998 together with her producer The Hacker (a.k.a. Michel Amato) the debut EP Champagne, on which this raunchy little gem first appeared, paving way to the foul-mouthed paeans of Peaches. Note this was way before the dreaded electroclash craze, though Miss Kittin became labelled as one of the artists of that genre, and I still love the song.

    I had a brief interview with Miss Kittin for pHinnWeb in 2001, when she told about this track:

    "I love Frank Sinatra and the American crooners and romantic jazz in general. I was looking for a rhyme to 'area' and here it came. What you don't know, is when I said 'He's dead', I really thought he was... A friend told me it was funny because he's still alive... I couldn't believe it and felt guilty, especially when he died three months later..."

    "every night with my star friends
    we eat caviar and drink champagne
    sniffing in the v.i.p. area
    we talk about frank sinatra
    you know frank sinatra?
    he's dead... dead!
    ha ha ha!"

    "to be famous is so nice
    suck my dick
    kiss my ass
    in limousines we have sex
    every night with my famous friends

    "motherfuckers are so nice
    suck my dick
    lick my ass"

  • pHinnWeb's little Miss Kittin page (not updated any more)
  • Monday, January 12, 2009

    Atari Teenage Riot: 'Deutschland (Has Gotta Die!)'

    Atari Teenage Riot: 'Deutschland (Has Gotta Die!)' (live @ DHR Studio, 1998)

    Wake up! Too hardcore for pop fans, too pop for hardcore fans, but I love it. Atari Teenage Riot was a Berlin "digital hardcore" group of Alec Empire, Hanin Elias and MC Carl Crack (1971-2001). ATR were outspoken proponents of anti-Nazi leftist politics, and were joined by Nic Endo in 1997. The band also ran their own label, Digital Hardcore Recordings. Sadly, Carl Crack's death of drug overdose in 2001 also meant the end of ATR; the best-known member, Alec Empire, keeps concentrating on his solo records and waving the red-black flag, often assisted by Nic Endo. Hanin Elias had a brief spell with her own Fatal Recordings, after which she announced retiring to French Polynesia with her family.

    Vaihe ¼ (@ Klubi, Tampere, 16 January 2009)

    MARry presents:
    Vaihe ¼
    @ Klubi, Tampere
    Friday 16 January 2009
    9 pm - 4 am
    age limit 18
    tickets 6 €


    Sami Koivikko (Spectral Sound, Shitkatapult)
    RRKK (Katusea)


    Sire (Step Ahead)

    Vaihe ¼ Tullikamarin Klubilla 16. tammikuuta
    tiedote 08.01.2009
    julkaisuvapaa: heti

    Vaihe ¼ sukeltaa elektronisen dubin ja teknon syvyyksiin

    Vaihe ¼ on perjantaina 16. tammikuuta järjestettävä elektronisen musiikin klubi, jonka live-esiintyjät Sami Koivikko ja RRKK kuljettavat illan soinnin minimaalisen teknon ja dub-vaikutteiden taajuuksiin.

    Tapahtuman dj:t SSSOOOIII, Sire ja Nilk laajentavat kuvaa kukin taholleen. Dj SSSOOOIII on aiemmin muillakin nimillä tunnettu pitkän linjan suomalainen dj-taituri, joka on palannut vuosien jälkeen uudella soundillaan. Odotettavissa on ilmeisen monipuolinen setti, joka todella kannattaa todistaa paikan päällä.

    Pitkä on ollut dj Sirenkin linja elektronisen musiikin parissa, mutta viime vuosina hän on tullut tutuksi varsinkin laadukkaan dubstepin ystäville. Dj Nilk puolestaan tarjoilee kahdella lautasella gourmet-aterian minimaaliteknoa.

    Vaihe ¼ on nimensä mukaisesti osa useamman tapahtuman sarjaa. Klubin järjestää elektronista musiikkia ja kulttuuria edistävä yhdistys MARry, joka on ilahduttanut musiikinystäviä muun muassa kolme kertaa järjestämällään manSEDANse-festivaalilla.


    Alex Regan
    alex.j.regan [at] gmail.com

    Friday, January 09, 2009

    Jante'd - More on Jante Law

    Amadeus trailer (1984)

    (Jante Law, Part 1)

    Artists (painters, writers, film-makers, musicians, ahem, DJs...), the narcissistic and self-centred creatures they are, live in constant fear. That fear is of competition, that a new hero/heroine will come up; being more talented, more creative, more innovative, more outspoken; outsmarting and making obsolete our poor narcissist, who will find out s/he is only a derivative hack feeding off other people's ideas and creating nothing essentially new in the process. Therefore, it will become necessary to eliminate the new contenders, whatever it takes, put them to their real place in the pecking order.

    One of the most well-known case histories of this process of the artistic rival's elimination is featured in Milos Forman's 1984 biopic Amadeus, which depicts the intrigues and plots of composer Antonio Salieri to get rid of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, whose talent Salieri is fiercely envious and afraid of. (It's better not to get into any possible historical inaccuracies here, such as Tom Hulce's take of Mozart as a giggling punk rocker of his time -- the fabulist film-makers just want to tell as juicy story as possible to delight the viewers, not historians.)

    Salieri's behaviour here is basically Jante Law in action, though usually its mechanisms are of more devious and invisible nature, much harder to detect. That is because there might not be found only one jealous Salieri to put spokes in the wheels but apparently a whole establishment (of rivalling artists and other cultural gatekeepers of the art world), as if designed to make our poor talent's life hard -- and this is also where conspiracy theories begin.

    Is our artist only a paranoid imagining things, or is someone actually plotting to block his/her way, speaking bad things of him/her behind his/her back and generally making things difficult for him/her? Even worse than actual attacks on the artist's work and person or negative criticism might be the "conspiracy of silence", as if s/he was silenced to death by the lack of any feedback whatsoever.

    Thus is born another martyr, another artist misunderstood by his/her peers, another victim of persecution syndrome. (Not to speak about other possible discriminating factors, depending on our artist's gender, nationality, race, sexual orientation, political views and so on: just open any art mag or culture pages of your morning paper for any desperate outcries and extra evidence.) Our artist was "Jante'd". Of course, there is no real way to know, but "being paranoid doesn't mean they aren't out to get you". (Though personally, more than conspiracy theories, I always put more weight to just incompetence, people's laziness, prejudices and comfort-seeking nature that prevents them looking for any new viewpoints outside their small circles of acquaintances or "good old boys", comfort zones, current trends or "the tried and true".)

    Naturally, it's possible our artist, that poor and sensitive spring daisy, may have only him/herself to blame, having just rubbed too many people the wrong way. Being a creative one doesn't always fit together with having a wholesome personality, being a nice, jovial bloke or lass, and many of them/us are -- let's face it -- just irritating twats with overblown egos.

    We don't like obnoxious or boastful personalities, because it is as if they pose a threat to our own existence. Any self-hype makes us wary. We don't like forked tongues, slimy showbiz types, obvious fly-by-nights but most of all, we don't like people who blow their own horn too avidly: especially if they are potential rivals.

    Or then, maybe our artist actually is talentless, despite his/her delusions to the contrary, so the Jante process of elimination only does a great service to the rest of the world.

    Thursday, January 08, 2009

    Oletko sinä...? (1969)

    Oletko sinä...? Part 1 ("Are You...? Story of Homosexuality", 1969) [In Finnish with English subtitles.]

    [Part 2] [Part 3]

    Oletko sinä...? ("Are You...?") is a dramatized documentary film on homosexuality directed by Matti Lehti in 1969 for Finnish TV. The film was immediately banned and shown for the first time only in 1999. Seen these days, it's full of unintentional humour (a dismayed middle-aged female neighbour to the gay protagonist's mother: "Sun poikas on kuin tytöt!" -- "Your son is like girls!") but also some interesting late-60s long-haired Zeitgeist from the time homosexuality was considered at least a mental disease if not a downright criminal offence.

    What's also interesting is that one of the film's contributors is Jorma Elovaara, a Finnish underground personality best known for his psychedelic radio show Vesimiehen aika ("Age of Aquarius") and later on Tähti ("Star") magazine on all things counterculture: Elovaara was also one of the early Finnish gay activists. Alongside Elovaara, Rauno Vinermo was part of the group who wrote the original script; as a medical consultant was Claes Andersson, a doctor and musician who later became Finnish Minister of Culture.

  • Info in Finnish @ YLE
  • Wednesday, January 07, 2009

    Ron Asheton of The Stooges (1948 - 2009*)

    Ron Asheton, who played guitar for The Stooges, has died at the age of 60. The Stooges were born in the late 1960s in Ann Arbor, near Detroit, in the aftermath of psychedelia and garage rock explosion; often joining on gigs The MC5, who considered The Stooges their "little brother" band. Like Scott Asheton, his drummer brother and fellow Stooges member, Ron Asheton always remained in the shadow of Iggy Pop, the wild frontman of the band (who later became a successful solo artist, recording with such people as David Bowie), but it was Ron's spiky guitar sound which was there to influence punk rock some years after The Stooges had split.

    The 21st century Stooges reunion saw Iggy, Ron and Scott together again, though for many fans the 2007 album The Weirdness is best to be forgotten: just stick to the classics, The Stooges (1969), Funhouse (1970) and Raw Power (1973; although Ron was only "reduced" to play bass there, with James Williamson on guitar) -- there's also plenty of sessions, unreleased and bootleg material around, just see The Stooges @ Discogs. As the band themselves put it on one of their more rare songs: Jesus Loves The Stooges! R.I.P. Ron.

  • More @ MLive.Com
  • Obituary @ BBC News
  • Obituary @ CNN

    (*) Ron's body was found at his home several days after the demise, so it's not clear if his death took place before the New Year or after.

    The Stooges live in Cincinnati, 1970

    The Stooges/MC5

    The Stooges, "a hippie festival" in 1970
  • Sunday, January 04, 2009

    The Jante Law

    Aksel Sandemose, the inventor of Jante Law

    Jante Law was developed by Danish-Norwegian writer Aksel Sandemose (1899 - 1965) in his novel En flyktning krysser sitt spor ("A fugitive crosses his tracks", 1933). There Sandemose describes life in an imaginary village called Jante, which is loosely based on his own home village.

    Jante Law is basically an unwritten and strict code of conduct regulating all fields of life and guaranteeing not one individual will rise above the rest, under the threat of all sorts of social sanctions, common disapproval and so on. These hierarchies and "pecking orders" will take care that only those members who will agree to play along the rules will subsist, and those diverting from the path will be cast aside. Jante Law is considered especially a Scandinavian phenomenon, distinctive of relatively tiny, close-knit societies of "small village mentality", but also Australia, New Zealand and Canada are said to have something similar, called "Tall Poppy Syndrome".

    Lately Jante Law came up in Finnish domestic discussion when it was claimed Panu Rajala, the author of Unio Mystica, a biography of the legendary Finnish writer Mika Waltari, lost the acclaimed Finlandia Prize only because the Prize Board members thought Mr. Rajala's "celebrity status" -- the author often featured on the pages of ladies' magazines and so on -- prevented the book in question having any real "literary merit" in the eyes of the Board and thus from receiving the Prize many thought Rajala's book deserved.

    Other examples in Finnish cultural life are countless; just every time when it's a question of the artists' job opportunities, grants and common recognition, being the source of endless bitterness for those hapless individuals who consider themselves being discriminated by "the System" or even by "the Mafia" (i.e. the cultural gatekeepers such as critics, curators, publishers and so on).

    The late Finnish artist Kalervo Palsa, known for his morbid and grotesque paintings and comics depicting sex and death, kept Jante Law as his motto sign on the wall.

    Jante Law:

    1. Don't think you are anything.
    2. Don't think you are as good as us.
    3. Don't think you are smarter than us.
    4. Don't fancy yourself better than us.
    5. Don't think you know more than us.
    6. Don't think you are greater than us.
    7. Don't think you are good for anything.
    8. Don't laugh at us.
    9. Don't think that anyone cares about you.
    10. Don't think you can teach us anything.

    Jante'd - More on Jante Law

    Thursday, January 01, 2009

    pHinnWeb Chart January 2009...

    ... can be found here.

    And Happy New Year!