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 The music feels exciting though the funny thing is that all the pieces were originally made in the early 2000, 17+ years ago when I was living in London and obsessed with combining my ideas, impressions and passions of everything African, a continent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.

Generative composition for a forest

The space for a forthcoming installation of mine: the inside and outside of an information/workshop/radio station hub in a forest in Belgium (Klankenbos, Neerpelt). This will be a 3-dimensional generative composition made specifically for and of the forest. After years of working with city sounds and focusing on the condition of urban spaces, it feels reinvigorating to explore the forest and the idea of ‘nature’ again (coming from Finland, the forest has always been a part of what I am). It’s also challenging because finally I’ve got an opportunity to incorporate all of my interests in one piece: those of ecology, chaos, complexity, nature/technology, long-term thinking, humans/nature, the future.

The piece, along with seven other works around the forest by my fellow artists, will be running from July 21st onward when there’ll be an unofficial opening; the official opening party will be on September 23rd, with live performances from us on a very ‘special’ stage. More info soon.