Beats Drifting Through The Trees: Finnish Electronic Music

I've been living in Finland for about 2 years now, and despite semi-regular trips back to Glasgow, I am becoming increasingly settled here, something which I mainly owe to my girlfriend Sari.

The commercial music here is very dreary indeed, possibly even worse than back home - I find myself yearning for yet another mass-produced, typically overblown 'indie' band to listen to. Here it's that very 90's blend of (poor) melody-driven Hard Rock/Metal, inciting the kids to raise their fists in the air, assert their individuality, and buy their new album from Sony. Either that or the usual misogynistic mainstream Hip Hop, aimed squarely at teenage boys.

Enough of the negative, however - this post is about some key figures of Finland's Electronic music scene (besides Darude of course!), whose innovation stands in stark contrast to the plodding Rock rhythms which saturate local media.

Aki Latvamäki's a minimal Techno producer, capable of bringing an oft lacking sense of melody and emotional gravitas to the genre, and it's through his friendship and mentoring that I've discovered much of the other acts on this post.

The excellent Little White Earbuds Podcast is a great place to start, featuring a lengthy interview with Aki, and a great 50 minute selection of his work to date. There's also the ubiquitous Myspace too. Aki has released tracks on Cocoon, Fabric and Curle, among others, and there's a link to all his Beatport tracks on his Myspace page.

Eero Johannes makes Skweee, yet another sub genre created by music journalists, which is funky electro to you and me. Mr Johannes is expert at combining strong retro leads with an often complex and disorientating arrangement, and manages to produce something emminently more listenable (and danceable!) than his 'wonky' peers. Check out his Myspace, and his excellent debut album on Planet Mu.

Mauno Kalevi makes robotic Disco, and has a few tracks on David Vunk's excellent Moustache Records, which you'll no doubt be aware of if you've ever been a fan of Cybernetic Broadcasting System, or its successor Intergalactic FM. Kalevi sublimely blends Techno and Italo, particularly in his standout track, Supercry. The sound of the West Coast of Holland, direct from Finland!

OP:L Bastards, an all-analogue band started in the late 90's, and are touring again after a 5 year hiatus. They make dirty Electro in the vein of Suicide, with simple and crisp beats and basslines offset by soaring FM leads and vocals. Check out their Myspace for a preview, and seriously consider buying the 2007 reissue of The Job, their only full length to date.

A 3 piece comprised of Paul Staufenbie and Tomi Kosonen's keyboards and Tomi Leppänen's metronomic drumming, Aavikko have been wowing crowds since the mid 90's. Tackling styles that range from computer game soundtracks, to keyboard-preset Bossanova and massive Moroder-inspired jams, the only consistent thing about this band is the quality of the music. Listen on Myspace, and check out their website.

Cocktails is here!

I'm pleased to announce that Cocktails, our debut album, is finally out. You can pick it up on iTunes, Amazon Mp3, eMusic & Napster. Check out our Myspace and Soundcloud accounts in the links in the panel to the right for a sample of our goods.

Cocktails competition - win a free copy of the album!

To celebrate the July 6th release of our new album 'Cocktails', we are giving away 10 free copies in a format of your choice: high quality Mp3, wav or both!  In order to receive your free copy, just post your favourite cocktail recipe in the comments section of this post.  After careful discussion, analysis, and of course, drinking, we will announce and publish the winning recipes and ship off the prizes accordingly.  Extra points will be awarded for originality/cool names/smooth taste.  So get to it!!!

Closing date - 1st July.

Follow us on Twitter!

We here at The Green Shroud are always on the lookout to meet new like-minded people, so follow us on Twitter and we'll follow you back! We're interested in many things from cinema, art, a myriad of musical genres (not just our own brand of Cocktail 'Tronica). So if you're culturally involved or inclined, get in touch- we'd love to read your blog/listen to your music/watch your movie/hear about your art opening/guffaw at your inane banter. So get in touch!

Cocktails Vol.4: Sea Breeze

Since summer is in full flow, we thought we'd share this refreshing and energising recipe, perfect for a warm, hazy evening:

70ml vodka

100ml fresh grapefruit juice

35ml cranberry juice

Pour the vodka into an iced highball glass, fill partially with grapefruit juice and top with cranberry juice. Garnish with a lime wedge, and serve.

Cocktails Vol.3: Old Fashioned

The term 'cocktail' is said to originate from the May 13th edition of the The Balance and Columbia Repository in 1806, where in response to a question from a reader, the editor described it as an intoxicating combination of spirits, bitters, water and sugar.  The Old Fashioned itself dates from around 1880 or earlier, possibly invented by a bartender at Louisville's Pendennis Club.  Simple and direct, here's one for people who like their spirits.

50ml blended whisky

2 Dashes of Angostura bitters

1 sugar cube

Lemon Peel

Slice of orange

1 pitted Cherry

Mix the sugar cube, bitters, and 1 tsp. water in an old-fashioned glass. Muddle well, add blended whisky, and stir. Add a twist of lemon peel and ice cubes, garnish with the orange slice and cherry, and serve with a swizzle stick.

'Cocktails' release date confirmed

At this very moment we are uploading our final mastered release to Tunecore - most exhilarating!  'Cocktails', our 11 track debut album will be available for download on 06th July 2009 - possibly earlier - available on iTunes, Napster, Amazon Mp3, and eMusic. Look out for some competitions and promotional give-aways as the release date draws nearer.  To hear some of the tunes from the album, check out the links in 'The Green Shroud on the Web' section to the right.

Right now, I'm going to fix myself a stiff Old Fashioned, dim the lights, and float away....

Charlie Shroud x

Cocktails Vol.2: The Shroudshake

This cocktail's a special treat for all you readers - an exclusive recipe from The Shroud's extensive collection.

35ml Baileys cream liqueur
35ml Kahlua coffee liqueur
35ml Dooleys toffee liqueur
35ml vodka
150ml chocolate milk
Dark chocolate shavings

Combine the liquid ingredients in a silver shaker packed with ice, and shake until ice cold.  Pour into a highball glass, garnish with the chocolate shavings, and serve with a straw.  

'Cocktails' promotional copies now available

Promotional copies of our debut album 'Cocktails' are now available for download, so if you run a blog/fanzine and haven't got in touch for one yet, act fast!  A beautiful blend of exotica, jazz, bossa and 60's pop awaits...

MUTO a wall-painted animation by BLU

This is mind-blowing work - painted on public walls in Buenos Aires and Baden. It makes me shudder to think how long this took...

MUTO a wall-painted animation by BLU from blu on Vimeo.

Fever Ray - If I Had a Heart

Directed by Andreas Nilsson, who's up there in the modern music video pantheon with Chris Cunningham and Michel Gondry, this is everything music videos should be, and too often aren't: instead of a stale promotional vehicle, it is a chilling and beautiful short film which beautifully complements Karin Dreijer Andersson's music.

Popol Vuh - Improvisation (1971)

This ranks as one of my favourite music videos of all time - a clever, yet simple concept, brilliantly executed.

If you don't know Popol, they were among the vanguard of German ambient music, and contributed scores to many of Werner Herzog's films in the 70's and 80's.

Cocktails Vol.1: Caipirinha

I thought I'd start off this regular column with my personal favourite, the Caipirinha. Refreshing, delicious and dangerous, this is one cocktail you have to try if you haven't already. Technically, this should be made from Cachaca, a sweet Brazilian rum, but I personally also like to use the mighty Havana Club.

-1 fresh lime
-70ml good quality white rum/Cachaca
-35ml sugar syrup (water and cane sugar in equal quantities, boiled for a couple of minutes and then left to cool)
-lots of crushed ice

Take the lime, half it, and slice one of the halves into wedges. Place these wedges in your tumbler and muddle (crush) throroughly to release the oils and juices (don't forget to wash the lime first!). Juice the other lime half and add this to the tumbler. Measure in the rum and sugar syrup, add the crushed ice, and stir thoroughly (or shake in a silver cocktail shaker if you want to be REALLY classy). Adjust the sweetness to taste: I don't like it too sweet myself, but it shouldn't make your mouth curl up at the corners! Don't skimp on quality and use granulated sugar instead of the syrup, it just hugs the bottom of the glass.

Sit back, adjust the lighting, stick on some tunes (The 'Shroud is recommended, but not essential), relax, and enjoy.  If you dig this cocktail, variations can also be made with other citrus fruits, like lemon or orange.

Until next time.

Energy Wasting Day 2009

The ever-industrious Charlie Shroud provided the awesome electro-hip hop score for this video.

Nice one, Charles. Now everyone do their bit and buy the single!

Roma a Mano Armata

This is what poliziotteschi is all about: rhythmic synths, bombastic horns, and riding about in cars.

True Crime Mixtape

The Green Shroud is proud to present our very first mixtape, 'True Crime', which is culled from various crime movies of the 60's & 70's, and features luminaries like Roy Budd; Guido & Maurizio De Angelis; Bruno Nicolai; and David Shire. Blaring horns, funky guitars, sharply picked basslines, driving beats, classic organs and monosynths coalesce to great effect. This genre has been a profound influence on some of The Shroud's arrangements, and we hope that you enjoy it.


1. Upper Seven #1 - Bruno Nicolai
2. The Taking of Pelham 123 - David Shire
3. Gangster Story - La Legge Assolve; La Polizia Incrimina
4. Hong Kong Promendade - Big Game
5. New Special Squad - Roma Violenta
6. Il Libanese - La Legge Assolve; La Polizia Incrimina
7. Nucelo Antirapina [Operazionne K-Sparate A Vista] - Bixio-Frizzi-Tempera
8. Incessante - La Poliziotta Fa Carriera
9. Goodbye My Friend [Il Cittadino Si Ribella] - Guido & Maurizio/Guy/Maruizio De Angelis/Susi
10. Twelve by Two - Ken Woodman and His Picadilly Brass
11. Escape [Il Giorno del Cobra] - Paolo Vasile
12. Delitto Sull'autostrada - F.Micalizza
13. La Polizia Sta A Guardare - Stelvio Cipriani
14. Driving All Around [Il Cittadino Si Ribella] - Guido/Guy/Maruizio De Angeleis/Susi
15. The Party - Nicos Mamanqakis
16. Hallucinations [Instrumental] - Roy Budd

If you like this, beg borrow or steal (buy) the following compilations, although they seem to be pretty hard to get a hold of:

Beretta 70: Themes From Italian Police Films

Piombo Rovente

Poliziotteschi Graffiti

The Thriller Memorandum

Until next time...

Energy Wasting Day

Here's one for all you SUV drivers out there...

Charlie Shroud is currently working on the score for the sequel - looking forward to it!

Top 5 film M.I.A. on Region 2 DVD

I've been particularly enjoying the recent spate of blogs highlighting great movies currently unavailable on Region 1 DVD, and thought I'd kick off our blog properly by making a small contribution to the discussion.  However- these choices relate to Region 2 though, as I live in Europe.

5. Suture (Scott McGehee, USA, 1993)

Shot in lustrous black and white by cinematographer Greg Gardiner, this neo-noir made a big impression on me when I first saw it in the cinema.  Exploring themes such as the nature of  memory and racial identity, whilst remaining in essence a revenge- thriller, this is either an empty exercise in style, or one of the most underrated movies of the 90's, depending on whom you talk to.  One things that's incontestable though, is that it features the best use of Johnny Cash's Ring of Fire yet put to celluloid.

4. Vamp (Richard Wenk, USA, 1986)

Grace Jones' impossibly sculpted physique finds its perfect cinematic representation in this gaudy cult horror.  The movie's cocaine-and-shoulder-pads sheen heightens both the seediness, and the sexiness of the proceedings, aided by a great italo synth score by Johnathan Elias.  I absolutely loved this as a kid when it was broadcast on Alex Cox's great cult movie series Moviedrome.  Robert Rodrigueuz really plundered the concept with From Dusk Til Dawn, but failed to deliver such an authentically garish atmosphere.

3. Faust (Jan Svankmayer, Czechoslovakia, 1994)

Svankmayer's dizzying blend of stop motion, live action and puppet theatre makes this an excellent and original adaptation of Goethe and Marlowe's tale.  Realities collide and merge as the puppets begin to occupy human spaces, and the amorphous clay skull of Mephistopheles pursues Faust to his inevitable demise.  A lot more playful and accessible than the Czech surrealist's later works like Little Otik, this is one film I'd love to see again.

2. Yol (Serif Gören, Switzerland, 1982)

Kurdish political prisoner Yilmaz Guney made this film from his Turkish prison cell by smuggling detailed scripts and storyboards to his assistant Gören, who faithfully recreated his anti-authoritarian critique of Turkey in the aftermath of 1980's coup d'etat.  As a group of prisoners make their way home to see their families during a brief period of leave, they struggle with the dehumanising effects of both secular and religious law.  Despite having the infamy of its 8 year ban in Turkey, and its winning of the Palme D'Or, this is conspicuous by its absence on DVD, and ranks amongst the finest political films ever made.

1.  Ich War Neunzehn (Konrad Wolf, DDR, 1968)

Made in East Germany's DEFA studios, this semi-autobiographical film depicts Russian-born German Gregor Hecker serving in the Red Army as it pushes its way towards Berlin in 1945.  An intelligent study of violence, patriotism and identity, this film depicts war as an slow, elliptical process, sharply punctuated by surreal episodes, intense fear and horror.  I was lucky enough to see it in the cinema at university, as our enterprising tutor had managed to rent a copy from the Goethe Institute, and was enthralled by Wolf's highly original depiction of warfare.  Warmly recommended.

Please join the debate over lost films- I'd be very interested to hear about more films of merit that have slipped through the perilous cracks of film distribution.  

Until next time...

And so it begins...

The Green Shroud bids you welcome.  

Over the next few months you will find musings, meditations and mutterings concerned with, among other things, the release of our debut album, 'Cocktails'.  This downtempo blend of electronica, jazz & psychedelia is due to appear on iTunes and others in June 2009, and will be the perfect accompaniment to many a lost hour spent in the warm embrace of a Black Russian. 

Any admirers of:

Henry Mancini, 

Italian Poliziotteschi scores, 

Serge Gainsbourg

& In A Silent Way-era Miles Davis 

would be advised to watch this space.  

On this very page, we intend to bring you closer to the creative process and the struggles inherent in independent digital music.  You can also expect some blogs on the music we love, in addition to some exclusive mixtapes spanning the wide range of genres that inspire us, and a whole host of other tangential offerings.

Pray hearken, dear reader, we shall return.