So…where do I begin?! Please bear with me, as I have endured sustained excitement about the music you’re all making over there and I have a lot of trouble being concise, especially about such things…
I guess technically the first Fonal release I got was Kemiallist Ystävät’s S/T a couple of years ago. To be completely honest, I don’t think my mind was expanded enough to fully understand this record and KY’s music; so, I listened once, went “huh?!” and didn’t listen again for about two years…
Enter Paavoharju. I had read a couple of reviews of “Laulu Laakson Kukista” and was instantly intrigued. I began listening on myspace and was obsessed. All my best friends were visiting Norway at the time, and I was left at home by myself, but had Paavoharju to keep me company throughout the summer. It really did. All the melodies sunk into my head and never left. The construction of the music was something I could almost not process at first: how can this music be so lucid but be captured onto a static medium? I felt like I was dreaming the music, but it was the same each time I returned to it (though I frequently notice new things). Luckily, being in Austin, we have a number of good record shops so I was able to pick up both “Laulu…” and “Yhä Hämäärä” on LP after a couple of weeks (before that I caved in and got Paavoharju’s digital EP , the first time I had ever made a digital purchase), and still remember completely stopping my math homework as “Kevätrumpu”’s beat dropped, and I sat there, stunned, for the duration of the record (my math homework remaining neglected…I could only concentrate on the music!).
In all honesty, I have listened to “Laulu Laakson Kukista” almost every other day or every two days since I first got the LPs last June. It has had the impact of other albums that have changed my life like Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s “Lift Your Skinny Fists…” or Neutral Milk Hotel’s “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea” or Boards of Canada’s “Music Has the Right to Children”. It’s a beautiful dream that I’m happy that I can return to at will, so I do so often. It all feels very honest, which is why I think I feel such strong emotions during the songs (they also all just make you want to hear the next one, and “Pimeänkarkelo” instantly turns me into a child being lead through a dark and beautiful forest by a voice that I don’t understand but trust anyway). This record transports me to another place far away from day-to-day worries and cares (I also got the CD at some point to more easily show friends what it was I was ranting about and so they could maybe feel what I was feeling from the record). But don’t get me wrong, “Yhä Hämäärä” is amazing too (in fact I am trying to learn & cover the song “Valo tihkuu kaiken läpi” with voice and guitar right now!).
Speaking of ‘other places’, that brings me to Kemialliset Ystävät. After being quite thoroughly enchanted by Paavoharju, I was reminded of the mysterious Finnish record I had purchased years before, and broke that out too, and was totally floored. What IS this?!?!?! The lucidity that is achieved in KY’s S/T is dumb-founding; Jan, I don’t know how you and everyone made this. I should mention that I had recently watched Alejandro Jodorovsky’s “The Holy Mountain”, which has an amazing soundtrack that, I think, prepared me for KY’s music in general (some of the sounds really remind me of each other). Ah, amazing! I managed to also track down “Kellari Juniversumi”, which is also very amazing; a little less hectic I’d say, and there’s the amazing delayed violin song on the b-side that just gets to me every time…KY’s music is absolutely overwhelming and does not allow me to think of other things when it’s on, just stuffs sound after sound into my ears and dances in and out of my head as it wishes.
So…I began to notice that there were now three (four if you count “Kellari Juniversumi “, though I think Beta Lactam released the LP) records from Finland, and off Fonal specifically, so I began wanting to explore further. I remember reading reviews about Islaja, so I managed to get “Meritie” and “Ulual yyy”. Oh man. The former is so over-grown and disturbing, but in a very good way, very human; exploring the light and dark of the mind / body. The latter gets into so many grooves, and moves in its own separate ways entirely. “Pete P” and “Pysähtyneet Planeetat” get stuck in my head often. The lyric sheet and the way Merja sings makes it very easy to follow the lyrics, and has been a very good guide for Finnish phonetics, which I find very beautiful and intriguing as a language (I agree with veerle up above that is very difficult).
I can’t mention Merja without Lau Nau and Kuupuu! They are both found in the picture too; I can’t wait for them to come out with their super-group LP w/ HERTTA LUSSU ÄSSÄ!
Anyway, I could continue on about each release and how it has touched me, but I feel I’ve already typed way too much. But, the music you have all made is very important to me. As a listener, I am so engaged by the sounds. I love that everyone records things themselves and really explores the word “experimental” to the widest reaches of its meaning. As a musician I find the music very inspiring and very pure: by pure, I guess I mean “honest”, in that the artists are being true to themselves and are expressing themselves without restraint. They are recording the sounds of their spirits, or trying their best, and I think I hear it in each release. Hopefully my plants think so too, because there’s a lot of Fonal coming out of my room, so I hope it helps them grow! Oh, and Sami, your “Sateenkaarisuudelma” album is fantastic to do yoga to…
So, now olen oppimisen Suomi, but mostly through google translate and from liner-notes, so it is going slow. But, you must start somewhere! Thank you for the music and for doing this contest, so happy to see people from all over the world that also love your sounds! I hope to visit Norway with my friends that I mentioned earlier sometime in the next year, and now I know that I must also come visit Finland as well…can’t wait!
Hei hei ystävät!
P.S. I hope you continue to release everything on CD and LP: I obviously have a preference for vinyl, and thus have many releases that have been released on Fonal as a CD but not LP. I think your packaging is some of the best in the world and deserves to be LP-sized everytime (btw, the paper you used for Islaja's latest and Yhä Hämäärä is very nice to touch).