Afrorithm in the house. I’m currently preparing for this special concert with a good friend of mine (and very talented musician) Petteri Mäkiniemi, at the Helsinki Music Centre next February. The concert will be a tribute to the pioneering Finnish electronic music duo Pan Sonic, and it’ll form part of the Musica Nova Helsinki contemporary music festival 2019.
Our idea is to create a new kind of music in which the aesthetics of Arvo Pärt and Olivier Messiaen meet those of West African musics, through the minimalist and sometimes brutalist aesthetics of Pan Sonic (we are also inspired by Jon Hassell’s musical concept known as Fourth World). Petteri plays his self-built instrument Ginette, which is based on the ondes martenot and which appears on my album Pulses / Radiance, while I play my generative system called Afrorithm (Afrobeat + algorithmic composition). We’ll be joined on stage by a cellist and a bass clarinettist from the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra.
So far we’ve had two rehearsals. These began as innocent jam sessions for the concert only, but we soon realized that we’d created an album’s worth of beautiful, new kind of music; less polished and produced, more spontaneous, candid and human. Pastoral, orchestral, African, futuristic (the word ‘evergreen’ keeps also coming to mind). Our plan now is to bring this serendipitous album out into the daylight early next year, possibly around the time of the concert…
The film composer Hans Zimmer said that music is at its best when it’s about people playing together in a room. I agree with him. As a music producer you release your long crafted labour of love mostly as digital downloads and streams, the work then existing and drifting in isolation in an obscure world of internet clouds and distant servers. It’s all fine as a distribution model (barring the energy consumption of those servers) but you rarely get to hear and feel what the listeners hear and feel when they listen to your music; the function and purpose of your music, if any, remains a mystery. But when it’s just even two people playing together in the same room, immersed in the moment and moved by each other’s sound and playing…you remember why you have always loved music, and why it has given you a tool to understand this world in the ways that other fields didn’t.