Skip Zone – Turn Me Around

skipzone_2015At last. The new album of folk rockers Skip Zone will see the light next month after being in the oven for some time. We already heard a couple of songs before, but now the band is sharing a new single. Turn Me Around is a touching, slow tune about alienation, longing and learning to let go. Singer Maria Pääkkönen really shines on this one.

The album When The Dust Blows Away will hit the stores in May and the band will perform a record release show in On The Rocks, Helsinki on 28 May.

Photo by Sami Turunen

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Funky Elephant Festival

Helsinki_Cotonou-Ensemble_photo_by_Sami_Mannerheimo

It’s funk time! The Funky Elephant festival is happening this weekend in Helsinki and it presents a good dose of funk, soul, reggae, ska, hip hop and world music. It’s two nights to dance, dance, dance.

One of the most exciting shows will be the performance by Helsinki-Cotonou Ensemble, the group that brings together musicians from Finland and Benin in West Africa. Their second album sees an international release this month and it includes some unstoppable rhythms. Get ready to raise your hands and stomp your feet.

Besides the Helsinki-Cotonou Ensemble, I would not miss the thrilling elegant funk & soul supergroup The Northern Governors, who are releasing their second album today. Check out below their new single.

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What happened in Tallinn

glue_tmw2015

I can’t believe it’s been already one week. The seventh edition of Tallinn Music Week is already behind us and I already thinking about coming back next year. Even though, this was only my second TMW, but I already have a soft spot for it, and I hope to make that a late march trip to Tallinn will become an annual tradition. For three days, the festival showcases fantastic new music of almost any genre in a series of charming venues, including rock bars, clubs, cafes, a movie theatre, an apartment, and even a former power plant where Andrei Tarkovsky filmed his masterpiece Stalker.

During those three days, music reaches every corner of the city. This year, the program included 206 artists from 26 countries, playing to over 24 000 festival-goers, who also enjoyed many of the side activities, like the craft beer festival, arts and even a classical music rave, which was a lot of fun.

My time at Tallinn was divided between music industry discussions and the gigs. Check out some of my highlights. Jukka at #Kovapaskaa and Kalenterikarju’s Mikko have written lengthy posts about their experiences in Tallinn. Make sure you read those too.

The discussions

Before the evening music shows, representatives of the music industry gather and cure their hangovers during the official conference. The whole morning is busy with discussions, panels and networking. I attended a few interesting talks, but there were two moments that really gave some food for thought.

During the panel Free, Premium, Freemium? there was a heated discussion about streaming services and how much artists could/should be paid. One panelist, Scott Cohen from digital distribution company The Orchard, dropped the idea that only the most popular artists could think of actually making a living with music. I am sure artists do not find this to be a great idea and it feels worrying that a professional music career would be the privilege of just a few. So much music would be unheard.

Another great panel offered an insight to the work of music supervisors for films and TV shows thanks to the presentation by Thomas Golubic (Six Feet Under, Breaking Bad), Chris Douridas (American Beauty, Shrek 2) and Andrea von Foerster ((500) Days of Summer). The three of them are extremely talented and have an extreme music knowledge to find the right song for the right sequence. Check out below how Golubic glorified the life of hooker using a song by 60s garage rockers The Association

The music

A showcase of the size of Tallinn Music Week really invites you to step outside of your musical comfort zone. With tens of gigs happening at the same time, rest assure you will bump into some new music you did not expect to love. The festival organisers do a pretty good job unearthing new bands from almost any genre and you might venture venture into nights devoted to hip hop or trash metal. I dedicated Saturday night to crawl from one venue to another, so my soundtrack shifted from swampy blues rock to Estonian pop to pop rock to 80s pop to blues to electronica to Russian rock.

Here are three acts that I unexpectedly became I fan of.

Lubo-Mir

Lubo Mir at Tallinn Music Week 2015

I am not a big fan of electronic music performances. Seeing someone behind a laptop on stage puts me off someone, but this time Finland’s Lubo-Mir was great. He created some intense atmospheres with powerful beats and even some psychedelic moments.

MiaMee

MiaMee at Tallinn Music Week

Some of the most special moments of the festival were the home concerts in one apartment in the old town. A couple of dozens of people went into someone’s apartment, take off the shoes and gather in the living room to see Estonia band MiaMee play. The band combines electronica, pop with a little bit of jazz and poetry and in such a setting the music felt as intimate as it gets, very touching. By the way, you can see a little bit of the gig (and Kalenterikarju and myself digging it) in this Euronews piece.

Prohor & Puzo

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I have always been curious about Russian rock but I never had the courage to research it. I might still do it one day, but in Tallinn I truly enjoy the show by alternative rockers Prohor & Puzo. What a powerful performance.

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Crystal Clears – Society

Crystal Clears

Helsinki’s electro band Crystal Clears is as much for the music as it is for visuals. The band creates intriguing soundscapes for film and visual art to create a mesmerising experience. On their latest collaboration with the artists collective De Kristallklara, band member Henrik Heselius created the film Society for which Crystal Clears made the music. Those songs are compiled on the Society EP, out on 23 April via VILD.

Both music and film create a complete cinemaconcert adventure that you can experience live in Helsinki on 10 and 11 April. The band will perform live to the film in the movie theater Orion. See the event.

Ahead of the single release, which you can see below, I catch up with Henrik Heselius to find out more about this peculiar project.

First, for those who do not know you yet, could you introduce yourself and your music?

We’re three guys doing music together, or two guys doing music and one guy doing visual art. We all want the music to be an experience, something that can take you somewhere else!

The press release says that the EP is about new beginnings, what is the story behind that idea?

We were making a film with our group De Kristallklara, and Crystal Clears made the music for the film. These were the thoughts that went through our minds at the time, and also a lot about what the film is about. It’s pretty much about thinking of changes you can do yourself instead of pointing your finger at others or at a problem.

How did you guys meet and decide to form the band?

Me and Ludvig started to do music together in 2012 as a side project to our band The Wha’s. Then we started talking with Oscar about having the visual art as a part of the band, as important as the music. Not to have ourselves in focus, even live, but the music and the visuals, and have us in the background.

Read fellow Rosvo Markku Haavisto’s take on the the New Moon single on Maitohotelli blog.

We’ve heard the single already, what can we expect from the rest of the EP? 

As in the rest of Crystal Clear songs, there’s both raw energy and slow ritual energy. Hope you like it.

Visuals play an important role in your music, you like combining your music with films, how do you integrate that element when composing and playing?

Jamming, testing and playing more. We want the music and the visuals to meet and support each other.

You also make music for De Kristallklara, how is that experience? 

It’s great to have a group with whom you can work and do for example a film with. Society which is a silent movie, is also a concert, since we play the music live in the cinema. Come to the old cinema Orion in Helsinki the 10th or the 11th of April and see for yourself.

If you could create the soundtrack for any movie/filmmaker past or present, what would that be?

Maybe Andrey Zvyagintsev and the film The Return.

Finally, what does the rest of the year hold for Crystal Clears?

We’re gonna be playing a lot, record new songs, and be open to anything interesting!

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Finland at Tallinn Music Week 2015

TMW_landscapeBack in 2002, the city of Tallinn was on the spotlight as it hosted the Eurovision festival. That was a lot of fun, but fortunately, however, since then, the music scene of the city has changed and things have gotten a little bit more interesting. The showcase festival Tallinn Music Week is becoming an unmissable yearly party with musicians from many different countries come to play and present their art. For three days, tens of venues around the Tallinn are filled with good vibes, good music, good times, good food and this year, good craft beer to with the first Tallinn Craft Beer Weekend happening at the same time.

Once again, a few Finnish artists will take the ferry and travel 88 kilometres South to the Baltic city to participate at the festival. This year’s edition includes 12 Finnish artists of different genres and styles, even though this time there seems to be a preference for strong, loud guitars.

Here are my top picks among the Finnish representatives.

Domovoid

Since 2010, Domovoyd have cruised the intergalactic trails of doom and psychedelia, creating dark, droning wall sounds. Their music is a carnival of heavy guitar riffs and space-out music explorations. Listen to their 2013 album Oh Sensibility.

Teksti-TV 666

Last year everybody was talking about Teksti-TV 666. Or at least everything that follows Finnish underground music, but nevertheless this is one of the best bands out of Finland at the moment. Their sound is an abrasive combination of kraut and proto-punk, like The Stooges covering Neu!

Markus Rafael Nylund

This is the story of a troubled wandering musician. Born in Finland, Markus Rafael Nylund grew up in Canada and currently is living in Estonia, where he crafts classic singer-songwriter music with modern sonic textures and dark themes like moral decadence and spiritual poverty.

Nylund’s debut album, called Dukkah, was released a few weeks ago and the singer will be all over the festival playing three shows.

Lubo-Mir

The Finnish electronic music scene is enjoying a healthy moment and Tampere artists Lubo-Mir, aka Markku Olavi Jylhä, will be its main representative at Tallinn Music Week. With two albums and a few singles under his belt, Lubo-Mir has developed an hypnotic groove with elements of ambient, downtempo and psychedelia.

Superfjord

Superfjord is one of the weirdest Finnish bands at the moment, but they are also one of the most interesting ones. Their music is rooted in jazz and 1960s psychedelia, but they also take some excursions into krautrock, shoegaze, and even acoustic pop, creating wonderful soundscapes. They even dare to play the standard A Love Supreme, in version that is somewhere in between Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix and Bitches Brews-era Miles Davis. Listen to their album It’s Dark But I Have this Jewel. It’s a trip!

Mansion

This one is for those who love spooky stories. Doom band Mansion creates eerie strong music to reflect the life of the followers of the 1920s Christian apocalyptic “mansionite” cult, also known as Kartanoism after cult leader Alma Kartano. Musically, the band draws inspiration from the 1970s and the darkest sounds of Pentagram and Black Sabbath. Listen to the Uncreation EP below.

 

 

 

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