In 2023, a few successes have been recorded in the archeological search for pioneering electronic artists. One of them expands our understanding of geographical origins of the sound. Namely “The NID Tapes: Electronic Music from India 1969-1972”, a recovery by Paul Purgas (Emptyset) from the archives of the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad. Having enjoyed overwhelming feedback, the album demonstrates the talent that was concealed for over 50 years. In the same, many pundits noticed how close were some bits of the Indian rhythmic minimalism to Sähkö Recordings‘ early releases – for example prophetically titled “Dance Music I” by S.C. Sharma.
The parallels are incidental, though we may imagine an anecdotal story, how young Mika Vainio and Tommi Grönlund were backpacking in India and came across a mysterious tape in a shabby hostel. However, the Finnish cult label doesn’t need to be jealous about the successful treasure hunt by Purgas and, in turn, responds with another essential discovery, the works of Osmo Lindeman from Sähkö’s home country.
Born in 1929, Lindeman was a classical trained composer, pianist and music lecturer who played an active role in the evolution of Finnish contemporary music. He was a productive film composer, working with the director Matti Kassila, for example. During the 1960s, Lindeman worked closely with key experimental musicians in Finland, such as Erkki Kurenniemi, Eino Ruutsalo, and Riitta Vainio. Along with experimenting with machines and sounds, Osmo Lindeman published in 1980 “Elektroninen musiikki”, the first textbook on electronic music in his native language. Some tracks by Lindeman, who passed away in 1987, had been published on a few compilations in Finland. Now for the first time, Sähkö has assembled of a vital period of Lindeman’s works, recorded in his home studio between 1969 and 1974.
Studio rituals of noisy minimalism
Irritating and even messy minimalism serves the purpose of a sonic massage, not conceived for pleasing anyone but triggering strong emotions. Osmo Lindeman’s showcase presents vast possibilities of electronica and would offer clues to samplemaniacs, such as The KLF. In the 14-minute-long opener “Kinetic Forms”, pre-Nintendo oscillations are travelling in the room, the jumps between mono and stereo posing as effects and not as recording faults. “Variabile”, an orchestral congregation of restless strings and erratic percussion placed over ambient cushion, would work as a soundtrack of “Babylon Berlin”.
The track “Mechanical Music For Stereophonic Tape” experiments with low bass sequences and chopped sinusoids introduce “Tropicana”, which is split into distinct phases of various intensity. Booming drones and massive interferences in “Midas” feature buzzing sequences that sound like a TB 303 ancestor. Of smaller formats, sound clips for TV commercials (“Sunkist”, “Fin-Humus”) and music logos for the National TV news sound far too futuristic. Pure psychedelia arrives with minimalist pulses and shamanic recital in “Ritual”, one of the previously released tracks like “Spectacle” that rounds up the electro-acoustic pilgrimage into the sound.