The Mysterious Sperm of Finnland

Last week in the AGIT-READER I wrote a glowing review of the latest re-ish from De Stijl, Hannover, Germany's 39 Clocks, but that label gets even deeper and daker with the vinyl only release of Sperm's Shh! Now this is a strange one, and certainly the few that drop $20 will likely know what they're getting into with this album. If you're buying it blindly be advised, this is not easy listening, or some lost psych wonder, but it is a spindly root of musique-concrete, scalpled jazz, and primitive plunderphonics -- falling squarely between Cage, Stockhausen, and the Los Angeles Free Music Society.

Shh! was recorded by a trio of Finns from Helsinkin -- Pekka Airaksinen, Jan Olof Mallander, and (more of a spiritual adviser than participant) Mattijuhani Kaponen. I'm still in research mode as to if this record was the impetus for the wild Finnish noise underground, or just an integral part of it -- those long oop comps are hard to come by, even through file-sharing. Shh! is for the most part, considering this was 1970, avant-collage. There is some decomposition of In a Silent Way's minmalism, but all bets are off on the close of the first side, where air raid siren, fog harbor traffic, and Boschian dementia takes hold. The second sides jazzier leaning is apparent, but this falls closeset to something like Sun Ra rather than Miles, still though, it's pretty far towards left-field, as strings pluck in space and long-meditations on skonk unfold slowly. I've always wondered where the Fonal camp got their mojo -- scavegering in the dense forests of Finnland, tapping into wells of mystic psych blueprints -- somewhere along the voyage they found Sperm (and that gave them life?) Who knows?

No comments: