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.