The last night in the studio

Finalnight

A wistful yet inspired last night in the studio before it closes for good. This studio has been my dedicated workspace for the past 3,5 years (apart from the 1,5 years I spent in Germany), and I know its sound and acoustics so well – hence the wistfulness of leaving. The space we operate in shapes greatly our being-ness / becoming-ness, and I’m curious to see how the next space will influence my output. I’ve worked on three albums here: Sahara, Pulses / Radiance, and the forthcoming Flash of the Spirit – or actually four, if one counts Egwutronica I + II, the 1-hour long composition I made for Emeka Ogboh’s installation in the Seattle Art Museum (those six months were one of the greatest adventures I’ve had in this space). Tonight finished a forthcoming single from the new album, currently titled Fela Mechanic. More info soon. X

Palestinian Genocide (by Israel)

One of the most horrendous atrocities of our time is the continuing occupation of Gaza and the inhuman treatment of its citizens by Israel.

Israel is operating not as a democracy or a civilized nation but as a criminal, apartheid terror regime, and its government should be prosecuted for its genocide of Palestinians.

These are not any extreme words and views, but a common human sense; sensible reaction to Israel’s actions.

For there really is no sensible nor factual arguments for Israel’s actions, only those of subjective extremist beliefs based on an ideology.

To justify the occupation and illegal settlements, the imprisoning and killing of innocent civilians including children and women, and so forth and so forth, by Palestinians having shot rockets, exploded bombs, throwing stones and demonstrating peacefully…well how on earth do you expect people under oppression, illegal imprisonment, slow genocide, and with their land stolen etc. etc. react? Should they just politely and silently accept their unnecessary situation, without resistance? How would YOU react if your land was stolen from you and you were separated from your family and friends, and sent into a concentration camp with no freedom nor future? Wouldn’t you object?

To claim an ownership to a “homeland” is one of most ridiculous and juvenile things one can ever hear. [oh dear humanity, will you please grow up] There is no such a thing as ‘homeland’ or ‘ownership’ – these are all just man-made inventions, forms of ideological extremism. Life is an accidental emergence in this particular universe, and we are all made of specks of dust scattered around this universe, living on another, slightly larger speck of dust we call Earth. We are all made of the same matter, and we happen to inhabit the same solid rock in this particular solar system. Earth is our home, our shared home. There are no homelands or sacred lands or nations or borders – just a rock planet with billions of species. What matters is how we share this space, not who owns what.

We have the potential – skills, willpower, consciousness – to live as an enlightened, cooperative, sustainable species on this tiny orb filled with the wonder of life. But for some reason we continue to let the juvenile, imbecile, unimportant and totally unnecessary whimsies of some ephemeral ideologies dictate our survival and future potential on this unimaginably gorgeous planet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Radio-Bridge Across The Zambezi

Recently I contributed a track to the Radio Continental Drift compilation A Radio-Bridge across the Zambezi. The compilation consists of remixes by artists and radio-makers from around the world, in response to audio/radio pieces from both sides of the Zambezi river. The BaTonga people of the area lost their land when the Zambezi Valley was flooded to construct the Kariba dam and lake in a colonial, World Bank financed project at the end of the 1950s. The Tonga people had to undergo the traumatic experience of forceful removal and resettlement, while the benefits of Kariba bypass most of the rural communities to this day. “After 60 years of struggle, the Valley Tonga people have a story to tell about cultural survival, creative resilience and determination for self-help and self-organisation.”

All proceeds from the online sales will benefit the radio-makers in training in Sinazongwe (Zambia) and Binga (Zimbabwe). For more information and adventurous music and sonic art, please see the link below:

A Radio​-​Bridge across the Zambezi on Bandcamp

My piece, Absent River, features a story and voice by Lucia Munenge. I was drawn to her story about the challenges for women to provide fresh water in Binga, to the importance of her message globally, and to the cadence of her voice musically. I wanted to create a minimal, water-like musical accompaniment around her story and treat her voice as a musical instrument on its own, a crucial part of the emerging soundscape.

Ilpo - Sahara - Ilpo - Sahara - 04

No one will ever ask you to do the thing you want to do

Update on the lengthy silence: I’m having fun and productive days in the studio.

I’m currently working on a new album (actually three new albums but two of them require more time to mature) which will be out this summer. The music feels exciting though the funny thing is that all the pieces were originally made in the early 2000, 17+ years ago when I was living in London and obsessed with combining my ideas, impressions and passions of everything African, a continent where I’d never been to, with the cutting-edge electronic music at the time. I made probably over 300 tracks but in the subsequent years most of these became lost due to broken, discarded or stolen technology; some survived on old DAT tapes and harddrives. When this Kenyan poet and I initiated a project few years ago, where we were to combine her spoken poems with my electronic compositions – inspired by our collaboration on the Wild At Dusk track from my album Arrival City – I reworked several of those surviving pieces, enlightened by my extensive travels and musical experiences in West Africa by then. Nothing emerged from this collaboration (as is naturally the case with 99% of all the potential ideas out there) and I forgot most of them.

Amid my depression resulting from the release of Pulses / Radiance (for a while I felt that was going to be my last album ever: I had made it with huge enthusiasm, excited about its new musical landscape, rhythmic invention, new kind of feeling and the joy and energy that the tracks seemed to exude…only to be met with utter silence upon its release), I stumbled upon these reworked early London pieces and was amazed how complete they sounded: music from a colourful possible future! (This is a familiar pattern: the initial self-criticism gets lost in time and you hear things fresh). So I began to rework some of those tracks again, to fill the spaces originally intended for the spoken word to inhabit. And I must say, this will be one of the most melodic, emotional and funkiest records that I’ve put out – a sort of hybrid between Shimmer & Bloom, Arrival City and Sahara.

In the music business there’s always so much pressure on you to repeat the same thing over and over until you’ve polished/reduced your work into a marketable sleek product, devoid of any interesting life; to make music that just sounds like more music. I can’t do that, I get bored so quickly. Once I’ve explored something, I want to move onto new things, start experimenting again: to continue making music that feels like life, or a possible world, with all its imperfections, fragility, uncertainty, randomness, beauty, inventiveness and vitality. Yet there’s often so little encouragement and demand from the world for you to do that. To quote the words of the acclaimed artist Laurie Anderson: “No one will ever ask you to do the thing you want to do…do not wait for this to happen, it will never happen…so just think of what you’d like to do, what you dream of doing, and then just start doing it.” Of course the thrilling thing is when you discover that the work you did 17 years ago feels suddenly exciting and fresh again, that you’d been sort of ahead of yourself but not knowing how to harness that potential at the time. There’s a continuity to your ideas and colourful, if uncertain, journey.

The pulse and radiance of the world

My new album Pulses / Radiance is now available for streaming + download on all the major digital services worldwide, incl. Spotify, TIDAL, Amazon, iTunes, Deezer, Google Play, Juno and many others.

I’m really excited about this album. It’s the first time I’m going musically somewhere that feels my ‘own’ (in the most unselfish sense), as if I’d discovered a hidden lush valley or an unexplored forest. While the music has traces of some of my dearest musical influences, like those of Fela Kuti, Ali Farka Touré, Björk, Steve Reich, Brian Eno and Jon Hassell, it’s no longer concerned about trying to emulate any of those, fit into any established genre or aim for any popular sound: it’s free, exploring its own musical direction with abandon and commitment.

The album explores immersion, repetition, new rhythmic landscapes and music as gradually evolving, constantly living condition where the changes happen more on a micro- than macro-level.

The idea and inspiration for the album is the underlying brilliance and potential of life when not wasted by ideology, belief systems and unnecessary societal designs; the cities, communities and nature, and the energy, vitality and the potential they exude; the concepts of ecology, emergence and complexity; multiculturalism, cooperation, coexistence; the intelligence, emotional depth and overall potential of humanity; and the wonder that is this living, breathing planet amid an endless and lifeless (so far) cosmological “miracle”, the universe.

Humans are one of the most conscious species on this planet, and with this consciousness comes a responsibility. When a consciousness enters the game of evolution, the Darwinian (and often misunderstood and misquoted) idea of “survival of the fittest” goes out of the window: one can always choose to cooperate instead of competing. We are here with a rare chance to assist the life evolve further, not to conquer, exploit and destroy it for our brief economic and consumerist high. We have a tremendous opportunity and responsibility to nurture and evolve life on this planet into something marvellous, sustaining and inspiring – for the future generations, but also for the simple fact that the Earth is the only place where the life exists, although precariously, in the known universe. What is the point of the alternative: to sacrifice everything for the short-term value of shareholders? To fuel the greed of the fossil-fuel industry? To serve an economy which is designed only to increase the wealth of the 0.1% of humanity? To halt the natural progress by uncritically following the imaginary world-views and worshipping imaginary gods that our more primitive ancestors came up with? We have the key to turn this planet into an exciting orb of mutual celebration, enjoyment, cooperation, togetherness, creativity, experimentation, shared wealth, natural wonderment, love, freedom, and fertile playground for the further space exploration instead. And we actually have the intelligence, skills and resources to do this right now.

‘A Garden, Faraway (for Katri Vala)’

My newest sound installation ‘A Garden, Faraway (for Katri Vala)’ is now running in Vapaan Taiteen Tila, Helsinki. There’s an exhibition party tomorrow Thu at 5 pm, showing sound works by six different artists, so come by if you’re in town (address Vilhovuorenkuja 15, Sörnäinen). /// ‘A Garden, Faraway (for Katri Vala)’ is a generative 3-D composition, created with the architecture and the sound of the ventilation system of Vapaan Taiteen Tila in mind. It’s a modest homage to Katri Vala, who was forward-thinking Finnish writer in the early 20th century and who is buried in the park above the exhibition space. It’s inspired by her poem Kukkiva Maa (Flowering Earth) which elevated me greatly as an adolescent growing up in a small town, to seek life beyond those offered by then cultural, economic and political realities.

A Garden Faraway 2

Music holds the promise of a different world

‘Music holds the promise of a different world.’ It’s a sentence I came across a while ago and haven’t been able to get out of my mind since. Of course you can replace ‘music’ with anything a person is passionate about and/or deeply moved by. The different world is already here, and it’ll remain. But it has to be made visible, audible, sensible, habitable.

This blog keeps updating slowly because I’m being super-busy and often needing separate time to contemplate things before expressing them in writing. Things currently keeping me busy: moving between countries, finding a way in the old yet new place, developing two — no, three new sound art projects, and finishing my new album.

The latter, I’m happy to say, is now done. We (my mastering engineer and I) finished the album tonight. I’d actually finished the album in my previous studio in Germany back in September, but to my shock then realized the acoustics and technical setup of the space had mislead my ears, so the mixing had to be done partially again here in Finland. And it’s taken some intense time and focus. But now I’m sighing and celebrating in relief and abandon: it’s finally done.

I’m really excited about the music on this album, titled Pulses/Radiance. It’s the first time I’m going musically somewhere that feels my ‘own’ (in the most unselfish sense), as if I’d discovered a hidden lush valley or an unexplored forest. While the music has traces of some of my dearest musical influences, like those of Fela Kuti, Ali Farka Touré, Björk, Steve Reich, Brian Eno and Jon Hassell, it’s no longer concerned about trying to emulate any of those, fit into any established genre or aim for any popular sound: it’s free, exploring its own musical direction with abandon and commitment.

The album explores immersion, repetition, texture, rhythm and sculpturality; music as gradually evolving condition or space. It springs from my earlier, playfully conceived idea of ‘afrorithm’ – Afrobeat + algorithmic composition – where the idea was to combine aesthetics of various West African musics with those of Western algorithmic and generative composition. While I made only one piece strictly in this fashion (Monday Morning in Lagos – to be released later as a special EP), the idea resurfaced when I was asked to do a series of live performances during my recent residency in Germany: it seemed like a fruitful and fun approach to present my then new album Sahara live on stage, and so I came up with an instrumental setup which allowed me to play this algorithmic system live, and generate new music using various pieces from Sahara as the source material. Thus, through improvisation, physical act of playing and serendipity, the music on this album began to emerge.

The music suggests to me a thriving, pulsating, multicultural world without borders and beliefs. To borrow the words of philosopher and Harvard law professor Roberto Mangabeira Unger: “individual and collective human empowerment through revised social and political structures – designs that enable life of creativity, risk, experiment, cooperation and meaningful personal connection”. It’s strange that this is so hard to realize through politics and economics.