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The tracks are from the following cassettes:

 

"9-Volt" is from Musiikkivyöry's self-titled album (1981)

 

 

"Five Easy Pieces for a do-a-loop" (1985) is the cassette by Mika Taanila & H. S. Tuominen in its entirety

 

 

"II" is from the compilation cassette "Akkko Peruskallio" (1981)

 

 

"Lonely Beat" and "16°" are from the split cassette album "Orient Henna" (1985) by Ferricjohnsson and H. S. Tuominen

 

 

"Alielämää" is from Swissair's album "Savokasälpä" (1981)

 

Other tracks are previously unreleased, except "Baggage Claim" which is also part of Swissair's "Soundtrack from the film Hermafrodiitit" and is featured on the double-CD "More Arctic Hysteria/Son of Arctic Hysteria: The Later Years of the Early Finnish Avant-Garde" compiled by Jukka Lindfors for Love Records in 2005.

Cassette noise

by Jukka Lindfors

Finland’s first alternative cassette imprint Valtavat Ihmesilmälasit Records modernized the 60's notion of “tape music” with about 20 titles that it released in 1980–82. They were definitely lo-fi with a lot of noise and boasted artwork that had been photocopied on a machine probably made in Uzbekistan. Normally 10 to 20 copies were made of each tape; occasionally even as many as 40 (excerpts on the Pilottilasit – Samples from Helsinki Underground 1981–1987 compilation, N&B Research Digest, 2000). Behind the numerous pseudonyms hid a group called Swissair, six schoolmates who had, already at 15 or 16, become bored with punk and rock music in general and focused on PiL, The Residents, Cabaret Voltaire and Peitsamo’s Puinen levy instead.

Director-to-be Mika Taanila used to make dadaist recordings for Valtavat under the name  Musiikkivyöry. One of the classics of Mietoherne, formed by Pietari Koskinen and Anton Nikkilä, was the bucolic II (1981), a thumping piece about sodomy. Many tapes from that era sound as if people have just decided to press the rec button and see what will happen. On Urban Hell trio’s tape two separate sessions were accidentally overdubbed. The Uusittu Pak project recorded children playing games and toy instruments. There was also a plan for selling chunks of concrete by mail order. Swissair’s own suggestive buzz or drone was mainly produced with distorted guitars. The group’s first and only synth was a Soviet-manufactured Faemi that cost 200 Finnish marks and sounded like a toy instrument. Swissair participated in a Youth Arts Happening folk music competition for 12-16 year olds but after they had played a rhythm machine, a bass and four distorted, out of tune guitars for 12 minutes, steering clear of anything that could have been regarded as “songs”, the power was cut off as they had exceeded the time allotted to them.

Harri Tuominen’s first synth experiment was the Kuvio Ski (Figure Ski) cassette (Valtavat, 1981) recorded on two tape machines that had noise levels of epic proportions. The slightly more mature Tuominen had become interested in electronic music in the early 70's and had also played in a new wave band called Vessel Umpio who released an EP called Seppo on viilee (Seppo is Chilly) on the Johanna label in 1981. Kuvio Ski proves how easy it was even for an amateur to get sounds out of a synthesizer: in addition to guitar and collage sounds, there are many lovely and peaceful atmospheric sequences based on overlong notes. At one point, Tuominen even considered making a living out of all that humming but the sales of 30-40 copies per cassette somewhat limited the feasibility of the plan. A self-financed cassette Orient Henna (1985) packed in a shampoo carton features an opening collage called Lippukunta (The Brigade) that starts with a rhythm machine and noise from Soviet radiowaves. The b-side of the split cassette was produced by Helsinki-based Ferricjohnsson (Pietari Koskinen with guest Mika Taanila) and sounded deceptively like very danceable but angular funk.

(This text is part of the Jukka Lindfors' article "Arctic History - Early Avant-Gardening in Northeastern Europe before the Onset of Global Warming" written for the catalogue and website of Avanto Festival 2001. A shortened English translation of the entire article is here.)

 

 

 

 

(Jyrki Siukonen, Rytmi 7/1985)

 

                              Valtavat Records' classified ads in Soundi in 1981     

 

 

 

 

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(Peter Shapiro, The Wire 204, February 2001, UK)

 

 

 

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(Till Kniola, Auf Abwegen #30, Winter 2000/2001, Germany)

 

 

 

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(Francois Couture, All-Music Guide, September 2002, USA)

 

 

 

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(Mathieu Duval, myrecordcollection.org, 2006, Canada)

 

 

 

(Massimo Ricci, Touching Extremes, September 2008, Italy)

 

 

 

(Ed Pinsent, The Sound Projector 17, November 2008, UK)

 

 

Das finnisch-russische Label, das weitestgehend auf Download-only Alben umgestellt hat, bleibt dabei seiner Agenda treu, nämlich eine der ersten Adressen zu sein für ‚Avant-Gardening in North-eastern Europe‘, zuständig für „conceptualism, experimentalism and archival work“. Daher ist dieses - kleiner Scherz - ‚Gärtnern‘ immer verbunden mit einem ausgeprägten Bewusstsein für die Wurzeln und Humusschichten, auf denen das Wachstum der speziellen Pflänzchen beruht, die hier sprießen.

Pilottilasit - Samples from Helsinki Underground 1981-1987 (NBRD-02DD) bietet, nach der CD-R-Version von 2000, erneut einen Eindruck vom Wildwuchs mit Namen wie Ferricjohnsson, Mietoherne, Musiikkivyöry, Akkko Peruskallio und Swissair. Pietari Koskinen, Mika Taanila (inzwischen ein renommierter Kurzfilmemacher), H. S. Tuominen und Anton Nikkilä - heute das N in N&B - waren dabei im Bäumchen-wechsel-Dich-Spiel die treibenden Kräfte einer kleinen Szene von Schulfreunden im Teenagealter, die, angeregt von Dada und Art Brut, nach Blueprints von The Residents, PIL und Cabaret Voltaire selbst für Postpunk relativ abwegige Felder bestellten. Definitiv anti-pop, frönte die Kassettentäterbande den Freuden des Krachmachens, teils mit Bass, Gitarre und Schlagzeug, teils mit Billigsynthie, Drummachine, Radio und Tapenoise, oder gemischt aus Gitarrendrone, Stolperrhythmik und Tapesalat bzw. schrillem Noisegeticker und minimalistischer Bassfigur wie ‚Lonely Beat‘ und ‚Punainen koodi‘ von Ferricjohnson (= Koskinen).

(Rigobert Dittmann, Bad Alchemy 62, 2009, Germany)

 

 

 

(Sebastian Pantel, Nordische Musik, 2009, Germany)