Anton Nikkilä

White Nights

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A lot of retro sounds have been (re-)integrated to electronica since the mid-'90s, but muzak remains almost untouched. Mass produced music par excellence, the acme in blandness and innocuousness, muzak has often been imitated or emulated (think of the naïve electro-pop of Felix Kubin, Oleg Kostrow, and Nova Huta, for example), but rarely plundered. Anton Nikkilä settles the score with White Nights. Half of the ten tracks on this album use muzak "hits" as a springboard. The other half hint at the artist's love for what he calls "the Soviet cult of technology." In these, antiquated electronic sounds and gadgets like satellite blips and vocoders provide the main material. Nikkilä's music grooves, but his sense of rhythm is definitely warped, resulting in missed beats and misplaced feet. His use of CD player fast-forwarding and the crude A-B repeat function can be unnerving on the long run, but his sense of humor compensates, especially in cuts like "You Needed Me," "Live in Seattle -- 74," and "100 Years of Soviet Cybernetics," where familiar melodies are tortured for listeners' entertainment. In these, the artist gets very close to the way Fennesz revisited the surf music ethos in Endless Summer. White Nights is not all fun, though, despite Nikkilä's efforts. "Science Town Romance" and "Viva Rock'n'Roll" break down, bones without muscles or skin to keep them together. Weaker moments aside, this CD provides an entertaining ride over the borders of electronica, kitsch, and noise. Labelmate Alexei Borisov lends a hand on four tracks.

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