Bakkus Bar in Reykjavík hosted on Saturday a special Fonal Records gig. For the less informed, Fonal Records is an independent record label based in Tampere, Finland. Four artists performed for one night of music: Es, Jarse, Lau Nau and Islaja. Here are a few photos and words — and a terrible quality video — as a memento to the event.
In his set, Es (aka Sami Sänpäkkilä) disclosed a mesmeric sound montage, in which the combination of the most diverse elements created an indefinite sense of longing. Jarse (the solo project of Jari Suominen, of Kiila and Shogun Kunitoki fame), whose performance was for me the highlight of the night, drowned a jaw-dropping explosion of guitar psychedelia in flickering lights. With the grace of a ballerina and in a blazing red dress, Lau Nau quietly sang her stories, enriching them with loops and all sorts of noise eccentricities. Finally, Islaja concluded with her evasive atmospheres, interwoven with many otherworldly and intimate suggestions.
Even with undeniable differences in style, the four artists offered to the audience a sensibility with common elements at its very core: hints of melancholy and remoteness, irony and dejected playfulness, fully enjoyable only with the right state of mind. Their music was probably not completely well-fitted for the socializing distractedness of the Saturday’s crowd.
Independent Finnish music is often overlooked, not because of its actual worth, but because of its less-than-marketable approach. Finnish musicians are some of the most amazingly creative minds you will be able to find these days, and yet their efforts are not always received with the well-deserved recognition.
With shame, I admit I have discovered Finnish music — classical music excepted — very late. Much later than Icelandic music, for instance. All I knew about music from Finland before, I owed to Kaurismäki… Finnish music got to me during a dull, sad, lonesome winter. The dronish musical environment and the sense of indescribable detachment I experienced back then met halfway, in a strange consonance.
The beauty of Finnish music resides in its almost metaphysical nature, in its evocatively scattered and, at the same time, collected character. Finnish musicians insist on dwelling on their idiosyncrasies: they are not concerned in the least that to the casual listener their works must sound less than coherent or even bizarrely unfashionable. Likewise, they do not seem to be obsessed with horror vacui — one common plague for a lot of music, also from Iceland. Even larger ensembles like, Kemialliset Ystävät or Avarus, maintain in their work sheer minimalism and integral sense of measure — both rare qualities — in the creation of ineffable soundscapes, filled with unfathomable moods, mysterious abstractions and inner visions, rather than with intelligible signs.
PS: at the end of the concert, the partner in crime wanted to get Jarse’s single so badly and have it signed, but we couldn’t find a single working ATM. A lesson to be remembered: even these days, that’s what happens when you only rely on lousy technology.