Finland’s avant-rock explorers, Circle are at it again. Just a few months after their brutal exploitation of the capitalistic mindset behind the super rock idiom, Circle plunge into the oceanic depths of true self-expression with their new album, Leviatan. Combining acoustic instrumentation with, at times, menacing vocals, complete with looming space sounds captured by NASA, the album yields a timeless, yet distinctively archaic klang. The ritualistic conviction of the group becomes obvious as the gritty idiosyncracy of the album gradually unfolds into a journey through spiritual anarchism, leaving the listener baffled at the exacting abandonment of the ensemble.
The new seven inch from Finland’s Circle finds the band firing in-your-face punk. Kumiluoti tears down the smokescreen of society with searing guitars and point-blank lyrics, navigating the ammo deep inside the corpse of capitalist machinery. The two songs reveal the plight of those exposed to the idiocies of blatant consumerism with surgical precision. Volatile, intense and straight to the point. Death to Society!
Life's greatest pleasures are often its most fleeting. Witness, for example, the ephemeral run of X__X, a turbulent quartet that tore through Cleveland like a Dadaist cyclone for six months in 1978. Preceding his imminent relocation to NYC, burly, blond brawler John D Morton assembled the project as a tighter, more rocking successor to his storied proto-punk act, the electric eels. An early, practice-room incarnation included that group's inimitable singer, Dave E. McManus, as well as future Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film author Michael J. Weldon. Shortly thereafter, the cast of characters stabilized to encompass razor-wire guitarist Andrew Klimeyk; CLE magazine editor turned bassist Jim Ellis; and drummer Anton Fier, who went on to fame and fortune with the Feelies, the Lounge Lizards, Pere Ubu, and the Golden Palominos.
Pronounced "ex blank ex," the name also doubled as a mental exercise in which a person could insert random words or phrases between the two letters in the moniker. Hence, Morton's jab at the Rolling Stones' sagging legacy for the title of this hotly-anticipated retrospective: X Sticky Fingers X. Compiling a couple of prized singles with a feast of lo-fi but raging live and rehearsal material, the album boasts radical revisions of several eels classics alongside tunes that would appear drastically altered on a Styrenes LP and on Klimeyk's solo seven-inch. As if that weren't sufficiently tantalizing, underground-culture historian and journalist Jon Savage penned the hepcat liner notes that accompany this "really boss set" of "mean sounds aimed at making your feet move."
But forget that jive. The main lure is Morton's ridiculously potent cocktail of brute force, no-wave squall, and nihilistic art prank. Pissed-off vocals, ass-kicking riffs, a hard-charging rhythm section, and the whirr of onstage circular saws split the air. Yet somehow, tracks such as "A," "Drapery Hooks (of My Love)," and the grammar-flouting "Your Full of Shit" manage to be catchier than syphilis. Moments of genuine confusion abound, too: "Rattler" stops dead before it truly starts, and a snatch of audience vérité purports to be a cover of "I'm So Fucked Up," a "song" by one of Morton's previous "bands" Johnny & the Dicks—in this case, a purely conceptual one that never played music. (Joke's on you, pal.)
Nowadays, X__X's erstwhile leader resides in the hinterlands of New York State, a base from where he paints, sculpts, writes, draws, snaps photos, churns out giclée prints, chops wood, and occasionally travels to perform with the Dunking Swine of Chelsea, Scarcity of Tanks, and the charmingly-christened New Fag Motherfuckers. Despite these numerous pursuits, he still found time to design the package and supervise the production of this definitive anthology. And so, it is with tremendous pride that Ektro Records and I present X Sticky Fingers X in all its unruly splendor. For your pleasure. Unto eternity.
Jordan N. Mamone, New York City
January 12, 2014
LP COMING SOON
Hopeajärvi - Rakennetaan kaupunki / Oikein, oikein 7"
210214 | 15:02
A follow up to their eminent debut. Two songs, clear thoughts. Plaque on the wall. It says: "there". Navigate to the basement. You'll see sounds, you'll taste the mould and you'll feast in the presence of light. This a premonition of new city, now with even more ridiculous rules. Stay aware. There are no dull battles. "It's your own fault" , said the tired, old bellboy.
This vinyl edition of 500 comes on 150 clear and 350 black vinyl.
Gilgamesh is the second joint music project of Éva Polgár and Sándor Vály. The music, based on the 5,000-year-old Epic of Gilgamesh, is pervaded by extreme expressiveness and melancholic minimalism simultaneously. On the borderline of different time dimensions, the work presents an insoluble tension between realization, death, and eternity. Polgár and Vály continue the musical dialogue already featured on their first album, the Mondrian Variations. That is, the acoustic and electronic dialogue of piano, percussion instruments, and samplers.
The art of Sándor Vály (born 1968), a painter born in Hungary and now living in Finland, is characterised by conceptual and philosophical dimension, which he uses to operate in the field of modern art. His work in the field of arts is not limited to painting, but expands to music, cinema, performance art and literature, creating holistic works of art. Vály's works form extensive entities. His musical background originates from the 80's Hungary, where he grew up with punk, experimental and industrial music. His greatest musical influences are, among others, Skinny Puppy, Einstrürzende Neubauten, Laibach, Steve Reich, John Cage, F. Schubert, and J.S. Bach.
Hungarian pianist Éva Polgár (born 1983), a renowned performer of traditional and contemporary music is currently pursuing a degree of Doctor of Musical Arts at the University of North Texas, where she also holds a Teaching Fellowship in the keyboard department. Éva has won top prizes in piano competitions across the world including the International Liszt Competition in Los Angeles in 2012. She has performed as a soloist, chamber musician, and recording artist in Europe and the Americas. Gilgamesh is the second album in which she is the co-composer. Her compositional style is mostly influenced by Claude Debussy, Béla Bartók, Steve Reich, and Louis Andriessen.
COMING SOON ON CD
Sound & Fury record release gig
160114 | 22:58
Sound & Fury's Pulsacion record release concert takes place on February 5 at Telakka in Tampere, Finland
According to Wikipedia and Allmusic.com (and even a Creem Metal interview from the band’s own time), Jesters of Destiny were quite possibly the first ‘Alternative Metal’ band. If you were to ask the band’s founders (and only consistent members throughout their four-year duration—Ray Violet and Bruce Duff), they would no doubt reply with a question: “What exactly is Alternative Metal, anyway?”
Such concerns were not on the minds of Violet and Duff, when in 1984, they were in the midst of a recording project attempting to come up commercial (as in jingles) material. Violet was the staff engineer at Dawnbreaker studio (built by Seals and Crofts during their heyday a decade earlier, and ran at the time by their ex-manager, a figure in the Bahai Faith). Church members occupied the studio compound, but during the day, it was rented out by Leon Sylvers (producing contemporary R&B with Violet at the board) and at night, Ray, Bruce and friends had free rein of the place to make whatever music they wanted.
Among the music they recorded were two songs that seemed to hang together: “End of Time” and “Diggin’ That Grave.” “Grave” was a riff, groove and lyrical idea Ray had been kicking back and forth with Bruce for some time—at Dawnbreaker, it came fully to life; and “Time” was a heavy prog number Bruce wanted to flesh out while the studio was at hand. The two musicians decided that these two songs had zero commercial potential for their jingle project, but belonged together nonetheless, and with that as a template, Ray and Bruce decided to form a band. Jesters of Destiny were soon rehearsing in the full-court basketball facility next door to the studio in the Dawnbreaker compound.
By fall of ’84, “End of Time” appeared on Metal Massacre V, part of an ongoing series used by Metal Blade Records to introduce new bands to an international fanbase. Also on board with their early recordings were Voivod, Overkill, Fates Warning, Metal Church, and Hellhammer, (before they turned into Celtic Frost). A look at this lineup shows the Jesters weren’t alone in thinking it was time metal ventured outside the safety zone.
During ’85, Jesters of Destiny began to perform in clubs around Los Angeles and Orange County, and weathering what would be an unending series of lineup changes around Bruce on vocals/bass and Ray on guitar/keys. (Five drummers and five lead guitarists went through the ranks). Throughout the year, and amidst the first several lineup changes, the pair recorded Fun at the Funeral.
With completed masters in tow, Metal Blade was approached, as they’d already issued “End of Time.” They liked the album and agreed to put it out, but perhaps as a nod to the band’s alternative take on heavy music, decided to put the LP out on a brand-new imprint, Dimension Records. Not only did this indicate that Fun wasn’t a typical heavy record, but also avoided the outrage the standard Metal Blade aficionado would experience when a pop song like “Happy Times” or an instrumental interlude like “Love Theme from Jesters on Parade” would pop up.
Released in 1986, Fun at the Funeral received a wide range of critical appraisal. From the press reviews, back in the day…
Spin: “Perfectly executed punkadelic glam-bop with a healthy dose of metallic insolence. Working within this context, the Jesters thumb their noses at insanity, aphrodisiacs, Pollyanna grooviness and the occasional suicide.”
L.A.Weekly: “Modern metal psychedelia whose deranged outlook is fine-tuned by way of nods to such opposing influences a Black Sabbath and the Electric Prunes.”
Guitar Player: “Magnificently wacky and roots-true…definitely a cut apart from any other ‘80s band.”
Kerrang: “Delightfully different…(a) mysterious mixture of musical influences from a number of bands you just can’t think of. Weird, but strangely appealing. 4Ks for…I don’t quite know what.”
And of course, the definitive statement, from Rockpool: “It is, quite honestly, the worst record I’ve heard all year.”
The band continued to shift drummers and guitarist in and out of the lineup, and during the promotional life of the album shared stages with Jane’s Addiction, the Dickies, Flaming Lips, L.A. Guns, Jetboy, the Fuzztones, and Thelonious Monster, demonstrating both how wide the Jesters’ style could venture, and how diverse the California scene was at the time. Nowadays, most histories boil Cali hard rock down to the emerging thrash scene growing out of Ruthie’s Inn in Berkeley, and the hair metal coming out of the Hollywood clubs such as Gazzarri’s. (Of course, the Jesters played both).
With not quite enough songs written for the second album, the Jesters opted to record an all-covers EP as a follow-up. In a Nostalgic Mood was met with perhaps even more confusion that Fun at the Funeral. For their ’87 year-end summation, Kerrang declared the Jesters version of Sabbath’s “Electric Funeral” to be the 4th best cover of the year, and their version of Hendrix’s “Foxey Lady” to be the 4th worst.
By ’88, Metal Blade dropped JOD. Enough labels passed on the demos for the by-now-written album No Laughing Matter that the band chose to quietly throw in the towel. Of course, the story doesn’t end there - why else would you have this bio? In 2001, Ektro Records in Finland reissued Fun at the Funeral with a load of bonus material, including a number of the No Laughing Matter demos. In 2012, Full Contact issued a single featuring Ektro’s most prolific artists, Circle, performing two FATF songs, “End of Time” and “God Told Me To,” with Bruce and Ray both onboard. Now, Ektro/Full Contact is issuing a near-exact replica of the original vinyl album, with the expected improved mastering and better graphics reproductions. Meanwhile, Bruce and Ray have returned to the studio to work on a brand-new album of Jesters of Destiny material. Has the world caught up? Will the Jesters be more easily understood in 2014? Most likely not.
Tracklist for the LP
'Diggin That Grave'
'God Told Me To'
'Love Theme From Jesters On Parade'
'I Hate Bruce'
'End Of Time'
'Attack Of The Jesters'
Circle (ex-Falcon) tours Europe
100114 | 01:30
Circle (ex-Falcon) on tour in Europe with Old Man Gloom in April:
01-04-2014 Grammatikoff, Duisburg
02-04-2014 Beursschouwburg, Brussels
03-04-2014 The Scala, London
04-04-2014 La Maroquinerie, Paris
05-04-2014 Dachstock, Bern
06-04-2014 Locomotiv, Bologna
07-04-2014 Jubez, Karlsruhe
08-04-2014 Bi Nuu, Berlin
09-04-2014 Pilot Club, Prague
10-04-2014 Arena, Vienna
11-04-2014 Doom over Leipzig, Leipzig
12-04-2014 Roadburn festival, Tilburg
Hollywood and SSEENNSSEESS pre-orders available
040114 | 03:20
Circle's Hollywood 2LP and the SSEENNSSEESS live LP can now be pre-ordered in the shop. Both LPs are available in regular and limited editions.
In other news, Circle and film director Mika Taanila are taking their SSEENNSSEESS show on the road, appearing at the Worm club in Rotterdam on the 26th of January. More info here (in Dutch)
Ps. You may have noticed that Ektro's webshop has been down a couple of times in the past few days. There were some problems with Paypal payments, but everything should be back to normal now.
Heikki Hautala - Pyövelin vaatteet
191213 | 13:32
Unilateral angle of approach might suggest there’s either only little or no hope at all in what can be predicted of our future. When days of grace are long gone, profound sadness and anger towards human absurdity step forward. Then again even the most hopeless vision has a counter argument written in its paradigm. These prophetic scriptures and modern psychoanalysis from 21st century Northern hemisphere are now here put together by one-man solo effort, Heikki Hautala, titled Pyövelin Vaatteet (roughly translated as Executioners Clothes).
Hautala’s debut full-lenght represents a brute uncanny mixture of sociological stand pouring out with almost revelational - like statues of our habits and nature. Recorded in the woods of Kuru on a four tracker some years prior to its release, the themes come across eternal dilemmas of jinxed behavior and distorted values. For new soil there's need for determination. And Heikki Hautala is highly determined, with hope and despair in unison.
Heikki Hautala - Pyövelin Vaatteet is a joint-release between Future Lunch and Ektro records, set to be released January 31st 2014, available on CD and digital formats. Hautala’s previous antics can be heard in his blind rage noisy punk group Sokea Piste and seen in art pieces and sketches, browsable through heikkihautala.wordpress.com.
Live recording made in Kiasma Theatre on November 22, 2013. SSEENNSSEESS performed as part Mika Taanila's exhibition Time Machines at Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art in Helsinki November 1, 2013 - March 2, 2014.
New shirt designs available for Circle and Falcon. Circle's classic fist shirt makes a comeback in a new color too! Buy!
Lord Fist - Wordless Wisdom of Lord Fist
121113 | 00:46
Hail the new dawn: LORD FIST are here to usher in the New Wave of Great Heavy Metal with their debut EP, Wordless Wisdom of Lord Fist. Firmly rooted in the steel-clad sounds at the turn of the '80s, LORD FIST stride forth on golden steeds and exude rock 'n' roll outlaw attitude, charging ahead with chugging, headbanging riffs, narrative and expressive solos, and old-soul vocal mysticism. Epic without overstating the fact, the title is no idle boast; LORD FIST indeed impart their wordless wisdom through eternal heavy metal magick. And with youth on their side and their ideals in the right place, this is only the beginning for LORD FIST...
BLACK 12" VINYL & TRANSPARENT PURPLE VINYL (150 x transparent purple, 350 x black vinyl)
Kuusumun Profeetta celebrates Mika Rättö's new book
161013 | 13:56
Kuusumun Profeetta will perform live in 19th October and will thus celebrate Mysterius Viiskulma-avain, the second book by their frontman, renaissance genius Mika Rättö. Rättö's Mysterius Viisikulma-avain, a collection of short stories, has just been released by Teos (available in Finnish only).
19.10. Kulttuuriareena Gloria, Helsinki
Sound & Fury: Pulsacion CD
131013 | 19:25
One of the most creative, distinctive and musically powerful small-big-bands in today´s music - Sound and Fury - has released a new CD on Ektro - label. It contains never before recorded compositions by the late great Finnish composer/drummer Edward Vesala.
This music takes the listener on a gripping musical adventure, juxtaposing pulsating tunes for brass and percussion alongside works with experimental guitar and lush orchestral textures. At times harsh and others achingly beautiful, this music is sure to be both riveting and rewarding for anyone with catholic musical tastes.
Vesala´s music (arranged greatly by Iro Haarla) transcends the boundaries of jazz embracing equally classical, rock, folk and tango traditions. The remote beauty of Finland is evoked at the heart of the music, together with the importance of magic and myth in Finnish culture Vesala´s music somehow achieves a seemingly impossible mixture of complex textures, melody, emotional expression and sheer joy!
All Vesala´s writing bears an unmistakable signature. It has ever been so with the masters. Melody is the one that sets everything in motion. All melodies stretch sinuously over long curves, arch, fall back, undulate and fall back upon themselves. Each melody implies its particular harmony, structure, tone colours, rhythmic embellishment and instrumentation. This music gives a musician freedom to express himself from whisper to loud cries but also requires utmost concentration, understanding of the musical language and of the story and emotion behind the notes. Sound and Fury does it all!
Sound & Fury: Pulsacion CD (ektro-105) OUT SOON!
Falcon - Frontier CD/LP coming soon!
200913 | 01:17
Foreshadowed by the hit single Beer and Ribs, FALCON (EX-CIRCLE) continue their ascent to rock 'n' roll heaven with their full-length debut, Frontier. With a dazzling array of textures and tempos, FALCON (EX-CIRCLE) take the listener on an instantly addicting journey through lazer-beamed AOR and soft rock, with more than a few nods to hot-rockin' weekend rock. Stained-glass synths soar majestically across pulsing beats and power balladry, anthems for one and anthems for all, heading out on the highway with the top down and the sun in your eyes and the wind in your hair. Appropriately, the song titles themselves explore timeless themes like "Miami Tits," "Vegas Sundown," "Leather Seat," "Ace of Hearts," and of course the mandatory "Beer and Ribs." This is music for the Everyman, and also for the greater good: unapologetically populist arena-sized sounds beamed in from outer space. Frontier will take you there; hitch a ride with FALCON (EX-CIRCLE).
Circle - Incarnation CD/LP coming soon
200913 | 01:12
The discography of CIRCLE is as vast and winding as the legendary Finnish band's history: From blissed-out quietude to teeth-gnashing noise and virtually everything in between, CIRCLE have done it all, and always with their characteristically quirky charm. Now, that very same quirkiness extends to the band's actual moniker, as they've recently "loaned" it to other bands and musicians while they're meanwhile exploring cosmic AOR and soft rock in Falcon (ex-Circle). The first fruit of this unusual alliance/dalliance is appropriately titled Incarnation. From the first seconds in and onward, it's readily apparent that this Incarnation is quite a different CIRCLE. Sure, CIRCLE have done plenty of loud/aggressive/"extreme" records before, but never have they been as brutal 'n' burly as they are on Incarnation. Fittingly, the members of "this" CIRCLE have deep roots in the modern Finnish death metal underground; the names of their current or ex-bands aren't necessarily important. And yet, par for CIRCLE's course, the downtuned 'n' devastating death metal across Incarnation isn't "just" the death metal that's so common to the nowadays scene, but rather is taken to more unusual, often-hypnotic ends, with textures and tempos quite uncommon for the genre. The result is record that's inviting and beguiling in equal measures, but is exciting and defiant at every turn - hail the new Incarnation!
Out soon as CD and LP
Aktor - I Am The Psychic Wars
200913 | 01:04
In a world of collaborations and compromises, AKTOR achieves these ends by sustaining a respectful silence between its creative contributors: avant-garde serialists Jussi Lehtisalo and Tomi Leppänen in Pori, Finland, and across the Atlantic in Chicago, heavy metal singer/songwriter Professor Black.
All in all, one could say that AKTOR plays Top 40 Heavy Metal with a delicious psychedelic flair that may one day have some fans in common with Sandy Perlman, Alan Davey, and/or Roky Erickson. Truthfully, AKTOR’s origins are uncertain and its intentions unspecified, and its music and process are accordingly unconceptual and a perhaps bit tense. Yet the outcome has much in common with the premeditated, synthetic pop music that has dominated airwaves since the 1980s. The lyrical narrative is similarly accessible on the surface, despite its protagonist(s) speaking from altered and/or incomplete states of being.
AKTOR offers up its debut 7” single “I Am the Psychic Wars” via Full Contact Records this fall.
Toiling Midgets: Live at the Old Waldorf, July 21, 1982 LP out now!
200913 | 00:19
San Francisco's Toiling Midgets are the ultimate cult band. A pair of lengthy hiatuses notwithstanding, this predominantly instrumental entity has persevered for more than three decades and recorded sporadically for big-deal labels such as Matador, Thermidor, and Rough Trade. Configured from the remains of the scabrous punk quartet Negative Trend, the group compresses glam, psychedelia, and moody hard rock into cavernous riffs dripping with grandeur and yearning. Increasingly reclusive since the mid-1990s, the Midgets are nevertheless still extant, nonchalantly perfecting a euphonious wash that causes geezers to weep and young ladies to daydream.
But let's rewind. From 1981 to 1983, basket-case savant Ricky Williams signed on as the crew's first (and last) official vocalist. The notorious Bay Area eccentric had already cemented his legend, having played drums for Crime and been ejected from a nascent version of Flipper. Most prominently, he'd also fronted the Sleepers. With his stream-of-consciousness lyrics, street-person growls, and rich if tormented baritone, Williams channeled addled soul singers, accidental shamans, and a malignant decadence rooted in Iggy and Bowie's ugliest fantasies. Originally documented for a radio broadcast by KFJC, Live at the Old Waldorf, July 21, 1982 catches the Midgets at the apex of their collaboration with this bewitching loose cannon, mere months after their pivotal debut, Sea of Unrest, arrived in stores.
The weeks preceding the show were hallucinatory and insane for guitarist Craig Gray. Unable to see what was transpiring, he had driven home shortly after depositing his girlfriend and her mother at a meeting with a Persian prince. Mama and her equally crooked beau were attempting to extort money from the wary royal, but undercover cops nabbed both women at the scene and initiated a search for the missing vehicle. Without realizing it, Gray had narrowly escaped arrest, and he was tooling around in a borrowed car on which local law enforcement had placed an APB. To boot, the automobile's trunk concealed a wealth of stolen goods.
A sketchy vibe permeated the gig itself, as well, particularly once headliner and professional catastrophe Nico entered the club. She implored everybody within earshot to pay her taxi fare and engaged Gray in a game of pool, coolly eviscerating him until her drug connection waltzed in. When it came time to perform, Williams was MIA, off god-knows-where doing god-knows-what. Reeling from their perverse encounter with the Velvet Underground chanteuse, the Midgets took the stage anyway. Roll tape!
Chiming harmonics announce the previously unheard lumber of “India” as the stars slowly begin to align. Tim Mooney's elastic, backwards-sounding rhythms and delinquent skateboarder Jonathan “Nosmo King” Henrickson's drowsy bass frame Gray's tight, circular hybrid of grainy chords and glimmering leads. Fellow guitarist Paul Hood rides waves of sustained feedback and scratches the musical canvas with all manner of abstract-expressionist abrasions. Several minutes through the opening tune, Williams finally materializes. Despite his volatility, he warbles with enough passion and lucidity to seduce your little sister. As the evening progresses, the Midgets fluidly replicate seven classics from Sea of Unrest plus a developmental arrangement of “Before Trust,” which would eventually appear on their 1985 sophomore LP, Dead Beats. Oddities in the set include the anthemic “Walk on Jesus”—a revision of “Aaron Song” from the cassette-only 4 Track Mind—and the delay-dappled “General Echo,” a raging aberration not actualized in the studio.
So there you have it. History in the making. Or something like that. In the early '90s, Williams worked with the Midgets again, but his sudden demise truncated that reunion. By then, Mooney had left the fold; 20 years later, he, too, would leave this earth. Gray and Hood, however, continue to keep the fire burning. Which brings us up to date. In the near future, Ektro and I hope to compile an anthology of unreleased Midgets highlights spanning 1980 to the present. But for now, Live at the Old Waldorf should suffice as a fleeting recollection of an epoch steeped in truly debauched glory.
"You should be making music primarily because you love it. Most everything else is a bonus. If you have fans at all, great. If you can play around your home town, or maybe throughout your country, fantastic. Recording your music should please you first and foremost -- how else could you expect anyone else to get into it? If you do start to become really successful, your troubles will truly begin."