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Amongst the obvious big draws, there’s no shortage of strange and unfamiliar names on the bill at this weekend’s Sonic Circuits festival. But I wanted to take a moment to highlight one in particular: Finnish experimental music hero Pekka Airaksinen.
Though he lacks the mythology of Jandek or the skull crushing musical legacy of krautrockers Faust (who he is billed alongside -some might say under, I say alongside – this Sunday at the Black Cat), Pekka is considered a pioneer in his homeland and might just be the only artist to turn up twice on the infamous Nurse With Wound list – once under his government name and once as a member of late 60’s avant rockers Sperm.
According to the mighty wikipedia two members of Sperm were once arrested for “simulating sexual intercourse” on stage. It doesn’t specify as to whether Pekka was one of those two members. Their only recorded output Shh! is a chilling and very collectible drone record. In the decade and a half or so after Sperm split, Airaksinen cut two solo records – 1972’s ambient workout One Point Music and 1984’s Buddhas of Golden Light, a masterful, drum machine laden free jazz ode to Buddhism.
Until I hopped online to write this article I had thought this had comprised the bulk of his output, but it turns out he’s actually accumulated an immense body of work in the years since. The forty odd albums on his own Dharmakustannus imprint run the gamut from complex computer music to sampladelic jazz cut ups. If sound samples are to believed, it’s almost uniformly excellent. It’s hard to say for certain which, if any, of these incarnations Pekka will be invoking when he comes to town, but it’s sure to be a unique experience.
(If Pekka’s staggering catalog is too much for you the Madam I’m Adam retrospective might be a good place to start.)