In this occasional series Joel Kupiainen takes a look at the secret forms of Music in Helsinki, hidden in plain view. In the first edition Joel recants recent activities of the Äänen Lumo association.
The Charm of Sound association has been an important organizer of concerts for experimental music in Helsinki for over 20 years. Though membership has been quite fluid, it has allowed for the nature of its events to vary greatly between each line-up, though still retaining a high level of quality. For the past year, CoS has been upping the ante with highly memorable concerts and a string of workshops for musicians. Here’s a couple of reasons why anybody with even a remote interest in experimental music should be keeping themselves updated with the association’s activities.
While recognition in the world of experimental music is probably even more elusive than in any other genre of music, CoS has a vast network of contacts and has rarely put up a show with sub par performers. While CoS’s international artists might not benefit of accolades from say Pitchfork or The Quietus, the artists seen at CoS-concerts are often nothing short of professionals in their field, some of whom might later go on to gain more universal acclaim. Some of you might be familiar with one Oren Ambarchi for instance. Yes, that australian guy who’s worked with Sunn 0))) and Jim O’Rourke to name but a few. Or how about Alan Licht whose previous engagement in Helsinki, before a performance as a duo with Japanese guitarist Tetuzi Akiyama last April, was with one Lee Ranaldo and his band The Dust. Both have performed at CoS-organized events. Those are no small fish.
2.Supporting the local scene
If the quality of CoS’s international guests is top-notch, no less can be said for it’s exposure of local musicians. Especially during the past year CoS has regularly showcased some amazing local talent from the experimental underground, sometimes even finding the rare but important link between the local independent pop-scene and the experimental scene. Which brings us to the next point.
3.Variety of styles
With as vague a term as Experimental Music, you can’t often know for sure, what you’re up against at a CoS concert. Truth is, if you keep yourself updated, you’ll soon get a very good picture of the variety of music that you might be confronted with. True, your preconceptions about music might be challenged, but when has that been a bad thing? That said, CoS’s way of curating results in a very broad representation of genres and styles both internationally and locally, spanning everything from acoustic instrumentations to electronic works, both composed and improvised, from self-taught grassroots musicians to classically trained ones.
4.Locations, locations, locations
Given the fact that for many connoisseurs, experimental music is basically the sonic equivalent of watching the end scene of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001, CoS has rarely put up a show in a location with unsatisfactory acoustics. On the contrary, CoS seem to be quite well on top on the acoustics of various local venues.
Given the fact that for many connoisseurs, experimental music is basically the sonic equivalent of watching the end scene of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001
In August CoS put up a show at the old oil silo in the Kruunuvuori-district of East-Helsinki, where in fact the natural reverb of the space was an integral part of the whole evening. While the silo delivered every sound as a crystal clear delayed reverberation, the evening’s musicians would use this to their advantage. Especially impressive was the solo performance of legendary Free Jazz reed-player Jone Takamäki, during which his softly arpeggiated saxophone leads took on a similar texture as Aphex Twin’s heavily reverberated synth pads.
CoS’s future endeavours include a show this Friday (16.9.) at the Free Arts Space in Sörnäinen. The line-up includes American electronic musician Byron Westbrook, Stockholm-based modular synthesist John Chantler, local modular synth wizard Ilpo Numminen and Maiju Jouppi from the Music Research Laboratory at University of Helsinki on Erkki Kurenniemi DIMI-A and DICO-instruments. Showtime is at 7pm.
On October 1st, CoS presents an evening curated by premier local Noise Artist Tommi Keränen at Korjaamo.
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