Saturday, 21 July 2012

I've Started So I'll Finnish - Oneohtrix Point Never

Oneohtrix Point Never is the moniker of Brooklyn-based Daniel Lopatin, whose sound has grown out of drone electronica to inhabit a world between cinematic mood music and an 80s version of The Disintegration Loops. Tracks throughout his three albums grow and develop in beautiful and unexpected ways, and can sometimes become frustratingly repetitive before creating release through blossoming or decay. 

OPN are on stage at midnight at Flow, and it's easy to see why. Our shared dreamimage of Scandinavia here at LIFB is of flowing landscapes and minimalist design, the contrast of days of endless sunlight with the knowledge that days of endless darkness are only a few months away. The sound of OPN,  with its combination of melancholy and nostalgia fits this perfectly.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Cross the Finnish Line - Tamikrest

People say the protest song is dead, yet today it seems like we have as much to protest about as there was in the 60s and 70s. The Taureg people, a nomadic part of the Berber population of North Africa, have more to protest about than most, after recent events in their history of rebellions and fighting for their own land.

This year, Taureg fighters returning from fighting on both sides of the Libyan revolution helped to stage the latest offensive, taking control of an area of Mali and claiming its independence as the state of Aswad, only to be expelled by Islamist groups that had originally helped them.

Tamikrest, a Taureg band, play at Flow Festival this year - and set out their politics in a statement on their website:
The development of this territory and these settlements is a personal and collective duty for all of us. No one will work for the preservation of our land if we do not do it ourselves.
That was written before the recent events, so it seems like this is going to be an act with a lot to say. How they say it is through a euphoric combination of African rhythms and Middle Eastern harmonies. As jazz trumpeter Winton Marsalis said recently, people in the west seem to think that African music provides rhythm whereas western music provides harmony and melody, and it's not really like that. Tamikrest blend Warm electric guitar riffs with soaring pentatonic vocals to create the sound of the desert that the Taureg people love so deeply.

Perhaps the people who feel that African music is all rhythm are the same who say the protest song is dead. These people should head to the Wastelands stage for the Friday night of Flow Festival and see what they're missing out on.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Nice Guys Finnish Last - Joose Keskitalo

Joose Keskitalo supports Bon Iver on the opening night of Flow, and initial listens show why the Finnish act has been paired with the US indie superstar: plaintive melodies accompanied by electro-acoustic guitar. Here, though, there is the added interest of harmonica and some dips into barroom shanties like Esineet and Pimeydestä pimeyttä vastaan

At times Kekitalo appears to be aiming for the accolade of 'Finnish Jack Johnson', especially on Luultavasti jäit junan alle. This is faint praise indeed, but a listen to Luultavasti jäit junan alle should actually remind you of the time that we all liked Jack Johnson to begin with, not when we wanted to tear our ears of after 'Better Together' got its ten-millionth play. A more flattering comparison is with Beck, whose track Asshole he borrows from liberally on Peer Gynt.

Even more enjoyable is the relatively poor quality of Google Translate when it comes to Finnish. There is little information about Keskitalo in English, so we're having to base our research on phrases like 'Equally, his songs, often about death, only to sound like her, of course.' This doesn't bode well for our understanding of what on earth is happening when we make it to Helsinki.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Race to the Finnish - Black Twig

Photograph by Heidi Uutela

We're going on our Summer hols, and Mrs LIFB has sorted us out with tickets to Flow Festival in Helsinki. Loads of the acts are Finnish and in the lead up to the festival we're going to be profiling some.

Black Twig are Helsinki-based and signed to small local label Soliti. Although their name, and the title of 2011 tune 'Death Scene', suggest they are part of the great Scandinavian doom metal tradition, they actually produce perky indie. 'Death Scene' combines chiming, shoegaze-y guitars with earnest vocals, whilst this year's single release 'Paper Aeroplane' opens with guitars set firmly to REM mode, and has a chorus with a series of woos - like a European Dandy Warhols - that are going to sound perfect floating through a Finnish afternoon.