26-27.04.2024 Turku, FIN : VIHAA JA KIIMAA IKUISESTI

Brief video collage of fragments of the set. Noteworthy is that most often it is short clip and possibly not best moments of set. We’ll see later what type of documentation Harsh Ways Syndicate may be planning and Noisecast should be covering event as well! Keep eye on SI forum and you might see better footage in near future.

Turku 26-27.04.2024 Turku, Finland

Text: Mikko A.
Photos: Vorago & Päivi A.

I had arrived to Turku already by Wednesday. Meeting with people, checking out all the places you do not have time to check in short moment usually left if you come just for the day when gig happens. In Turku, I went through all possible places I consider somehow related to ”noise”, in one way or another. Through whatever little link I could think of.

Anyone coming to some of the Finnish shows that Harsh Ways Syndicate is organizing this year could in fact spend week or more in Finland and see couple dozen rarely seen bands of various styles of harsh noise, HNW, power electronics, industrial noise, drone-noise, whatever… Some of show would be:

Terästaivaan alla, 01.06.2024 Turku, Finland
Absolute Key + Hail Conjurer, Aprapat, Commando 15, Haudat, The Räty, Nuori Veri… 

HARSH WAYS FEST 2: 9.-10. August, 2024 Turku, Finland.
Anenzephalia (GER), Pain Appendix (USA), ANTIchildLEAGUE (UK), Pain Nail (FIN), JSH (SWE), Atrophist (FIN), YANA (FIN), Moozzhead (FIN), Truth Commission (FIN), + MORE ARTISTS TBA. Also notable that there are more shows near this two day fest! 7.8  ACL playing in Helsinki with 3 Finns you can’t see on HWF and Pain Appendix doing 3.8 Oulu with also more bands! Keep eye on Special interests forum live show announcements and you find info you need.

Having couple extra days at Turku, I went to places such as: 

Alfa Antikva 2nd hand shop. They carry all sorts of ”normal things” from books, comic books, movies etc. But unusual quality is that they do have quite decent, yet of course varied selection of underground music. Goodies may be grabbed fast, so depends when you are there. I mostly have all the stuff already, but there would have been one nice martial/neofolk double CD collection published by OEC, but due to the packaging, the discs were far from perferct. With a little cleaning, they might work just fine. Formerly I have bought experimental stuff from the place every time I visited it. Last time got one 90’s Ure Thrall CD. Over the years have bought anything from NON, Korpses Katatonik, Psychic TV, etc.. They still have plenty of old Dossier titles of more industrial music. This time I only grabbed pile of X-rated comics and a couple OIi -discs. Mint condition Combat 84 and Condemned 84 recordings that was found among punk/hc CD’s.

Couple blocks away Sammakon kirjakauppa -bookstore. It is mostly ”normal books” so to say, almost all in Finnish. For finns it can be good. It has the cultural vibe that can’t be found in city where I live. Small print run poetry, essays, novels, alternative comics. Fair prices, better than in big book shop chain. If missing classics like Burroughs and such.. you can grab things very often for 5 euro.

From 5 euro discount shelves, bought 2009 publication about Turku city underground history. Based on the index, legendary band Sperm appears in many places in the book. Got some esoteric philosophy, couple slightly experimental books by one of favorite young Finnish female author and now completed my shelves to have all her books.

Then visit to Turun Sarjakuvakauppa – comic book shop. The boss of shop had recently received the title of ”comics consultant”.. not sure if that is accurate translation for ”Sarjakuvaneuvos”. Anyways, awarded for a lot of work he has done for this culture. The oldest (and the only) comic book related magazine Sarjainfo had article of this, accompanied with a picture showing the atmosphere of the place in the early days. Back then the place was called Underground Ullakko (Underground attic). In the photo of the magazine article, I could see the corner of my old comic zine. Back then, the store also had a small but cool noise section! Mr. Gelsomina was curating some stuff into that place. These days no records and CD’s to be found, but I always grab something I have been missing. This time it was French releases of psychedelic erotic-grotesques artbooks of Shintaro Kago! Some  obscene art comics and handful of self-published 80’s/90’s style mini-zines from veterans of Finn comic scene.

You can’t find much noise at the 8-Raita recordshop, but I had to tell my friend about the early Keuhkot 7″ they had which I went to buy for her day later. You could see stuff like Marja Ahti LP, Romutus 12”, Akti -zine etc.  Really good, clean and well organized shop, if you’re looking for a different style of music, not exactly nasty noise.

Levykauppa Äx‘s punk/alternative used LP section had Black Leather Jesus “Trocar” 12″! Not even a bad price. It would be surprise if someone doesn’t pick it up when it has such good graphics and an ultra mini ltd edition. On the CD side, some familiar safe Finnish PE roughies a’la Grunt CD’s among other famous alternative names, hah.

There were little noise activity in left leaning cafe/book store Kirjakahvila before things went sour. Inventory is not huge enough to celebrate any noise discoveries but I found zine called Edistysen Voima, where Njihe is represented and a story in memory of Pekka Airaksinen. They do have english language books, mostly antifascist/feminist/anarchist perspectives represented, but also poetry, tiny section of alternative comics, etc.

The underground is somehow surprisingly tiny fraction! Especially the music side, which is exclusively second hand mainstream bulk rubbish. I spend fifty euros into all kinds of poetry zines and mini-pamphlets. Anti-capitalism and angst fueled women…

For foreign people who come to Turku, it can be good to ask some locals what bars to go after shows, what places are good to eat, where to stay etc. You can get hostels, really handy airb&b.. Also can consider which is better, to have place to stay near by venue or in the city central. I am sure there are some guys who’ll have advice how to do it. 

Finally it was about time to start friday’s gig.


Friday 26.4.2024

Beginning of the Will Over Matter gig reminded his style of two new tapes on Freak Animal. The early Mika Vainio stuff was mentioned in promo blurbs I wrote, and that’s what I thought again.  A “beat” that was without any echoes or subtleties. Repeated single… “bang” that didn’t sound like a typical drum machine, but not like a typical synth pulse either. Kind of broken snap.  Along with the main sound, there was usually another rhythmic element fade in, that was out of the sync. Creating this odd polythrytmic feel. It hasn’t been many weeks since I was listening to Mika Vainio’s old  ø “Metri” album on CD. That one has exactly equally primitive short electronic ”noise” experiments on it. Some songs can be short experiments with just 1-2 elements that go primitively a little out of tune and tempo. The clumsy” polyrhythmicity” in it is what fascinates me. It is total opposition for typical approach of music build on ”grid”, perfectly ”synched” beat on a computer. 

I remember that some of the Vatican Shadow stuff where being surprised how some synth layers and beats are seemingly out of sync. Sort of ”hand made electronic music”.  Those things are exactly what make the stuff listenable for me. It brings a human element to it, some sort of artistic touch, even if the sound itself remains coldly inhuman and hard electronic sound. 

WOM transitions from ”track” to another were wild. It felt like for a moment set slipped totally out of control when a new sound was being twisted from the synth. Painful high pitch tones bordering unlistenable frequencies and after a while the set took shape again into something that qualifies as… ”song”. While many artists have planned transitions to make sets smooth and neat, WOM was just as brutally primitive as you can imagine. Just going through oscillations in front of audience until finding something worth to play longer.

Reptile Womb was the only other band to play at the warm-up night. I have written about his stuff few times in Finnish language. It’s project that clearly seems to appeal both noise and Black Metal crowd. Band’s publications operate somewhere in the dark blurry space where a bit of Black Metal, a bit of industrial, sometimes noise elements merge together. There is strong unashamed “fierce UG filth” -vibe in it. 

If you would write down some of the elements of live show, like animal blood splatters, candles, ritual robes, floor tom percussion etc ..  most likely you will envision something else that Reptile Womb is doing. 

We’re not really on the verge of meditative ritual drones or careful delicate dark atmosphere, but perhaps something that could be lined next to… even bands like Gonkulator! Oddity that you don’t really know what genre it would be, and just know its outrageous.  Man in Graveland shirt and corpsepaint, drinking blood and screaming with insane vocals, occasional odd pitch shifted demonic moments, screech of metal junk, bass riffs, slightly unusual floor tom patterns.  At weirdest it goes when this line-up is performing Misfits cover with a post-punk floor tom beat and demented ”oi band doing BM”  roaring reckless  out of tune vocals, haha! Of course, their own songs are bleaker and darker and more extreme. Good stuff and four member line-up works well. I think Finns have been kind of lucky to see RW play here multiple times, while their live activity has been quite limited. He has always played in setting where it fits. In some sort of neat ambient-ritual-drone event or too nice Black Metal fest, it could be total WTF moment for audience. In events where they played in Finland, it always fits into mood.

The “opening club night” of two bands was good. There was time to talk with several people and and night ended early enough to drive to city center. Quickly skipping couple lousy dance music places, ended up in Whiskey Bar to have drinks and chat with foreign guests who has came from other side of Europe for this.


Saturday 27.04.2024 Turku, Finland

I had been hanging out at the venue since 14:00 or so. Long day. Sound checks, setting up merch table again. Talking with other artists who were there. Everything being in time and well organized.

 Finnish band Augmented Atrocity has two albums out on Aussaat label. They are worth to check out if one has not done so yet!  He is undeniably at his best in a intimate small alternative venue. Not bars, not huge rock clubs. Somewhere  where you can be very close to artists and amps etc. However, he is better at every gig and it works on a big stage too when loud enough sound system creates the ”punch” so to say. Many songs prove that it’s a step forward. Already now Augmented Atrocity beats the generic heavy electronics approach with his more varied and experimental approach he has for the sound and songs. I’ve been listening to the new album quite a lot and recommended to keep eye on his stuff.

Rotat video was extra funny again. It is so vulgar, you can’t really post any footage of it into youtube.  Noises are also brutal scrap racket and junk distortion. Maybe compared to last year’s flawless harsh noise Rotat sets, the ending of this set was a bit sloppy. Slow feedback breaks repeating a bit too much, but very good set nevertheless. I think he mentioned some of the gear broke just before the gig, so set had to be sort of revisioned to work with gear that worked. Just like the man’s latest recordings.. Vulgar, perverse, but same time… funny!

I am sure that as experienced live musician, sound technician and noise master level craftman Umpio has taken into consideration what are the most typical potential pitfalls of noise gigs. Such as too loud volume resulting everything becoming flat static hiss. Too much bass that would result everything to be boomy rumbling without nuance. etc etc. As a solution – or – as a general Umpio style, the man slowly develops the set. Less distortion, less volume, and a lot of short dynamic noisy bursts, various scratching and smashing sound with modular zip zap somewhere on the back. Towards the end the intensity increases and we get the longer harsh noise climax. The abrupt industrial-noise burst build-up lasted so long that when at the end there was a longer harsh noise blast, it was like “now more of THIS please!!!” -vibes! Really good set. Umpio likes to play on floor level, instead being on stage. Certainly being close, and artists being surrounded by crowd is nice, but also result is that from the back of the room, not much to see… except the nasty, very nasty video art being screened on wall! 

The gigs were schedule to start every hour. All the sets were short enough that you had time to talk with people and at the gig venue, or outside. The lights were always on between sets and no extra loud DJ music. There was good weather outside as well.  At this point, we were already so early that there was probably a 50-minute wait for Sadio to start. It didn’t seem to bother people since you got such a international meeting of people and several merch table to browse and so on. Finnish problem is that it doesn’t get dark in the summer time. If darkness is required and place has windows that can’t be covered, that’s about that. Therefore, no hurry. 

Sadio started exactly at 22:00 to play the very first gig in Finland. Set consisted mainly material from the Voyeur Seeks CD and the previous 7”, albeit as live interpretations and with a noisier approach. Video material consisted personal ads from old sex magazines. Couple hundred xeroxed and stamped leaflets were thrown into audience during the set. Similar material as was on the video. Material that was performed, has the same quality. Most of the lyrics have been pulled out from vintage sex magazines, personal ads, readers letters, advertisements. Reeking the authentic lust of people, often small town perverts trapped into banal world and seeking opportunities to have some outlet for their desires and desperate attempts to find likeminded people that they hope to exist. 

Bizarre Uproar didn’t have such a long break. It started fairly quickly after Sadio. Mr. BU had the idea to have same members assist him, who were at very first Bizarre Uproar gig. Therefor it was Sick Seed doing brooding bass noises and last handful of minutes Grunt joined for added metal crushing sounds. In other words, the “let’s finish it just like we started” -ethos was present. Of course, over the years the style has changed and developed and this was not nostalgic event, but presenting current day BU. There was ZSS doing guest vocal assault in middle of the set and also bleeding into overall ”F&V” approach.  I was told some people expected huge spectacle, but it really was ”only” a gig like gig is supposed to be, not unreal ”spectacle” really.  The “art performance” that Jukka Siikala orchestrated took place in front of the stage. In dark bigger hall this was not visible to many people at the back. Video art was stylish repeating loops of underwater ejaculation. I would assume most could only see dark stage, almost black screen with white organ ejaculating over and over and over and over again. Pretty much perfect iconography for the BU sound and BU themes that are often repetitive. The sounds and ideas are endlessly revolved in, over and over again, yet those who care to follow, see that everything is slowly developing, changing, mutating form. When the lights went on, it was like a slaughterhouse. Probably about 10 litres of blood everywhere. Significant part of the audience who was at the front were covered from head to toe in blood. As there wasn’t really any facilities to clean up, I would assume when part of the crowd returned to the city it may have been fun. With the blood on their faces and clothes, walking on public city streets could result bunch of ”911 calls”, hah… 

It was a hell of a good evening, and the only minus in my case was that taking care of the distro work (for myself and some artists) limited talking with people. Preparing for playing gigs added to that. Many people who you almost never see these days were there. Good catching up with old friends. Also, including international visitors from Germany, Italy, USA, UK, Sweden, Norway, more… ? Salutations to all whom I managed to catch up and rest to hopefully see next time.