When you think of Finland, you think of Lordy, Nokia, Zyntherius, pale men with whiskers, Matti Nykänen coke-orgies and a stupid language…..but underneath that depressing grey façade lies a rich musical culture….a culture personified by the living legend of electronic composition Jori Hulkkonen.
Oddly enough I was first introduced to Jori in Miami Beach in 98 by our then mutual friend Bobby Brown (Bobby was a huge fan of Jori’s seminal Rokataan Täysillä ep on Cari Lekebuschs Hybrid imprint…..claiming it had a profound influence on his “Every Little Step” remix package released only 4 months later). Once I figured out how to pronounce his name (it would take me many years to learn how to spell his name) we became friends; sharing a deep love of synth-pop, italo disco, self-deprecating humour and fine bitches. Two years later we had teamed up to casually rewrite musical history with “Sunglasses At Night”. But while this megahit meant instant fame and fortune for me, unhindered as I was by concepts of musical integrity…for Jori, the consummate muso, the eternal dreamer, the hopeless idealist on the vanguard of Scandi-Dadaist-Electrodance……this meant the beginning of a surreal oddysey, a character testing trip thru the inferno of the “music-bizz”. Over the next years he would continueto produce albums for Fcomm, singles, remixes and freeform poetry…..a man on a mission…or let’s just say his work was never FINNished. Until now. Maybe.
Let 2007 be declared The Year Of The Fenno-Baron….a new 4 track ep on Turbo inspired by the ubiquitous Finnish sci-fi epic from 1983 by …yes, you guessed it….Pekka Virtanen, called: wait for it……oh yeah…..catchy title: Katajanukke (Junipery Doll). If you have any idea what I am talking about then you are a menace to “cool”…and if you ever run into me on the street please stay away so I don’t catch “weird Finn Nerdbola”
The truth is I hate most of Jori’s music. I mean, c’mon…..its wack……it’s indulgent, wierdo electronic music targeting, well…. nobody…BUT, here is the mystery……he is a genius. Once you get thru the string-soaked jazz-chord hell, you realize you are actually dealing with one of the few real originals in dance music. Everyone SAYS they “play by their own rules” but very few DO……and let me tell you one thing, not many people have the balls to dress up in full Star Trek gear and rock an electronic clarinet; it takes a certain kind of confidence to wear a patch on Top Of The Pops, and then, under it all are the genius tracks, remixes, and a stunning beauty and frailty waiting to be discovered. OH…and he also discovered Scissor Sisters, I swear.
I told Jori so many times….please make me something I can PLAY. Just something I will LIKE……don’t go all mutant on us…..and then , he sent us these four tracks: yes, they had stupid names, yes, they were a bit odd…..but after a few listens it was clear they were VERY GOOD. And more important than just being GOOD, they were JORI…and they were original. “Original” is a dangerous word in music……it’s something everyone throws around…but in my days I have known very few…and Jori is one of the last true electronic pioneers….never afraid to make a record everyone hates, and in the process he makes records that everyone ends up loving….and crucially HE loves. I have no idea how he lives in Turku all year without going on a shooting spree, or why he likes pointy elf-shoes, or how I even became friends with a Trekkie……but I thank god I did…..and I would not change a thing because in this cookie-cutter world of myspace profiles and generic souless music Jori is a dying breed, an artist, and a real character who marches relentlessly to the sound of his own drums (and strings).
Enjoy these 4 tracks of Jori at his best. Dancefloor electronics from Finland. Never have so many vowels sounded this good.
Love from Turku VIA Montreal