Various Artists

Arktinen Hysteria: Suomi-Avantgarden Esipuutarhureita

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Released by the Finnish label Love with liner notes in Finnish and English, this album compiles tracks from Finland's avant-garde underground between 1967 and 1970 (with one track from 1973). The scene at the time was polymorphic, manifold and chaotic; Arktinen Hysteria doesn't impose an order to the ebullient creativity of the generation. The track list goes back and forth between early experimental/electronic music, noise assaults, free jazz, and freakout jams. Some of these cuts don't rise above provocative prankster art -- M.A. Numminen's "Gestures for Three Belchers" opening the set may predate Roger Waters and Ron Geesin's Music from The Body by almost a decade, but it is, well, let's say "less refined" -- but most of the tracks hold surprises. Sound quality can be shaky for some tracks, but overall the album has a lot to offer to history-inclined avant-garde music fans and curious minds. Tomi Parkkonen's "Hysteriablues" is a disturbing exercise in wordless expression. The Blues Section's "Shivers of Pleasure" is the only rock song of the set, a nice psychedelic find with a strong Jimi Hendrix influence. The album presents two tracks by the freeform happening group The Sperm, reminiscent of Quebec's L'Infonie in its early stages, or the German Aktionists. About half of the album is comprised of tape experiments and electronic pieces, including Erkki Kurenniemi's "Dance of the Anthropoids," and Jukka Ruohomäki's "What Time Is."

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