Jori Hulkkonen

Man from Earth

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    7
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After taking some time off from full-length solo work to concentrate on the Processory project as well as other work under various pseudonyms, Jori Hulkkonen's return under his own name is a sometimes mixed affair that works best via individual tracks than as a full listen. His partner in Processory, Jerry Valuri, takes a bow at the start with one of Man from Earth's strongest songs, "I Am Dead." It's a good run through a slow electro crawl style with elegant textures, while the vocals by Valuri sound appropriately distanced and haunted in a glistening way not all that far removed from, say, "Big in Japan"-era Alphaville. It's a strong start that's nicely matched with Valuri's other turn at the end of the album with the title track, but in between things are a bit uneven, with strong songs and other guest performances running up against songs that come across as polite time-killers more than anything else. Sometimes songs work better as titles than as anything else (thus "My Brother Went to Space and All I Got Was This Lousy Vacuum"), while other titles -- thus "Dancerous" -- find themselves saved from an eye roll thanks to a stellar performance or break. But the standouts are definitely strong, often showing Hulkkonen's ear for the kind of obsessive electronic disco made popular by the likes of Giorgio Moroder. "Re: Last Year" openly tips that hat with a near "I Feel Love" loop driving the song, while the polite trash-talking vocal by Villa Nah plays up the romantic angst wittily suggested by the title, making for the album's best song. Another winner is "Boying in the Smokeroom," which sounds like it should be soundtracking a chase sequence from an early-'80s John Carpenter movie.

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