Maximum Rock'n'roll #285,
VALSE TRISTE - "Madon Luku" LP
Impressive twenty-song second full-length by this now-venerable Finnish band that has been around since 1983. Instead of treading the straight and narrow "classic Finnish hardcore" path, this is wild and chaotic experimental hardcore, charged with energy and unpredictability, and refined by the band's growth in precision, skill, and delivery. Dual vocals create a new zenith of "caustic" and "scalding" as they shout and spew over herky-jerky hardcore that seems to meet somewhere in between the bass-driven time-changing of NOMEANSNO and the swaggering, loose ram-charging of KAAOS. The lyrics (in translation from Finnish) are similarly offbeat, but deftly hide meaning in metaphor. Excellent recording and a nice gatefold; adventurous listeners take note. (KS)
VALSE TRISTE - Madon Luku (If Society, CD)
Bass-driven as fuck—that’s the instrument that’s dominant here, although there’s also some six-string mangling, as it’s described on the case. Bottom-heavy aggro from this long-time Finnish band. Comparisons to NoMeansNo are kind of inevitable, given that bass-dominance, but Valse Triste favor a pure attack—not much ebb and flow or subtle shadings. These guys go from straight-ahead speed bombs to rhythmically complex arrangements. One constant is the ranting dual vocals that have the harsh inflection that’s been a mainstay of Finnish hardcore. Pumping up the thunder.
short, fast & loud #11
Warprayer # 144
VALSE TRISTE – “Naulatkaa!” 7”
The long running posse called VALSE TRISTE – http://www.students.tut.fi/~koivuluo/mainpage.html – continues to amaze me with quick, powerful in addition to entirely raging, traditional Finnish hardcore that includes totally pissed off vocals. The tunes are hammered down in between 42 seconds and 1:29 minutes, so you know these guys don’t fuck around. By the way, this EP features a demo session from ’97 and 8 out of the 10 songs already appeared in alternate versions on their “Hermovasara“ 7“ which was released in ’97, too. Ya like a mix between TERVEET KÄDET’s first 3 singles (“Rock laahausta vastaan“ [’80], “TK 2“ [’81], “Ääretön joulu“ [‘82])? Then, by any means, get this masterpiece without delay!
Eccentrics, Issue #1 (compilation CD, Tenzenmen)
This is a compilation of three bands. The first one of them is Hinterlandt, and they're completely worthless. They have drum machine, electronic effects, distorted guitars, lame vocals, etc, and the music changes between experimental electronic rhythmic stuff and crappy cyber-grind or something. Their three overlong tracks take up more than a third of this 65-minute cd. Seriously, one of the worst bands I've heard. That's an accomplishment, too. Then it's luckily time for something completely different: Zu! They start with a track titled Tom Araya Is Our Elvis, and with that it's impossible to go wrong. Bass, drums, saxophone and cello intertwine together in a way that just has to be heard to believe it. It's heavy but still true to the spirit of (free) jazz - totally uncompromising stuff here. Zu are definitely the most interesting of all the "punk jazz" bands around at the moment. Their second track continues in the same vein with an addition of a sample of some psychiatrist guy talking about "subconscious manifesting itself in psycho-masturbation", "satanic tendencies" and other funky stuff. Unfortunately the following Zu tracks are not as good, they're a bit aimless and lack in heaviness of the first two and don't really bring anything else to replace it. They're still not bad, and it would be difficult to top the first two in any case. Well, the last track is in the vein of the first two again, but it's still not as good as them. The third band here is the Finnish no-wave kings Can Can Heads. They play altogether 13 tracks which are full of jerky, twitching rhythms, screeching guitar noise, occasional saxophones, retarded vocals, etc, and I'm loving it. All of their tracks aren't obviously masterpieces, and their whole is a bit too varied, but there are some real gems like Double Talkin' Maybe (which I think has been already released on some of their 7"s, but I'm not 100% sure - the title just sounds so familiar), The Swivel Spout's Angle Swings (my favourite and one of the band's very best, a real no-wave masterpiece), hilarious Banana (with a guy talking about the price of bananas backed by freejazz), Starpowerless (that does not sound like Sonic Youth but like Motörhead who try to play funk but notice they don't know how and just rock out instead) and Sawdust Brain (which would make Captain Beefheart proud). If you didn't get the point already, this is definitely worth purchasing because of Zu and CCH.
CAN CAN HEADS - CRICKET OKASADA 7" (Verdura)
KROKO - FURIA CD (Verdura)
Finnish group Can Can Heads remind me very much of Steve Albini's sometime project Shellac, for whom I used to have a fondness, with 10 short to very short tracks on this white vinyl disc. The typical 'power trio' core of guitar, bass and drums has occasional, welcome embellishments of keyboard, sax, choir (?) and trumpet, and the songs are sharp and spiked, brutally aggressive but focussed and dynamic in their arrangements. Not sure how this fits into Vital but of its type it's a fine listen, especially given the group's pride in the DIY aesthetic of recording the whole shebang onto an obselete four track cassette recorder. Rawk, in miniaturised form. Kroko utilise similar tools to their countrymen but in a slightly different way. Again, the core is the typical instrumental guitar/bass/drums format but the music is much more complex, almost like a mirror-distorted 1975 period King Crimson, with some vague jazz inflections here and there. Furia's cover shows a wooden building being gutted by fire, a breathless, hypnotising image, matched by the music's intensity. The barbed splintering of the louder pieces jars nicely with scintillating pieces like 'Sol Ist' and the oneiric opener, 'On Fahrenheit And Little Bit Celsius'. On other tracks, the space is very evident, with tracks like 'Roikkuu Katosta' demonstrating a restriction of approach in the absence of which this disc would have been a draining listen. Kroko are a good reminder of the kind of power that the most simple of instrument set-ups can produce in the right hands. (BL)
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