Sunday, April 8, 2007
M.A.Numminen - Taisteluni + In Memoriam, 1967, 1970, Finland
Mauri Antero Numminen (born 12 March 1940, Somero) is one of the best-known Finnish artists, having worked on several different fields of music and culture.
In the 1960s M.A. Numminen was known particularly as an avantgarde/underground artist, stirring controversy with such songs as 'Nuoren aviomiehen on syytä muistaa' (the lyrics of which were taken directly from a marital guide) and 'Naiseni kanssa eduskuntatalon puistossa'. He was also a member of the band Suomen Talvisota 1939-1940. In his early days Numminen often consciously tried to provoke people. Here he succeeded well, for example by his interpretations of Franz Schubert's lieds, sung with his own idiosyncratic singing voice, or managing to create a scandal at the Jyväskylän kesä festival of Jyväskylä in 1966 with his song lyrics taken from a sex guide. Numminen also did music to the writings of the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein. M.A. Numminen founded in 1966 with Pekka Gronow the record label Eteenpäin! ("Forward!"), which released Numminen's own music. Later on Numminen's records were published under the umbrella of the legendary Finnish label Love Records.
Additionally, M.A. Numminen has been one of the unsung pioneers of Finnish electronic music, known for his collaborations with the composer and inventor Erkki Kurenniemi who built for Numminen a "singing machine" with which Numminen participated in a singing contest in 1964, and in the late 60s the electronic instrument Sähkökvartetti ("Electric Quartet"), the performance of which wreaked havoc in a youth festival in Sofia, Bulgaria. Sähkökvartetti can be heard on Numminen's track 'Kaukana väijyy ystäviä' (1968).
In 1970 M.A. Numminen founded with the pianist Jani Uhlenius a jazz band called Uusrahvaanomainen Jatsiorkesteri ("Neo-Vulgar Jazz Orchestra"), which is still in existence; taking its cues from the 1920s-1940s jazz, swing, foxtrot, etc. Now retired from the band are the members Aaro Kurkela and Kalevi Viitamäki. The current line-up consists alongside Numminen and Uhlenius also of the accordion player Pedro Hietanen, the fiddler Jari Lappalainen and the bassist Heikki "Häkä" Virtanen.
In 1970s M.A. Numminen became a popular favourite with his children's songs in the 1973 film Herra Huu - Jestapa Jepulis, Penikat Sipuliks, where he also played the main role, and in the 1977 TV series Jänikset maailmankartalle, where he played a hare. At the same time Numminen also gained success in Sweden with his song 'Gummiboll' (Numminen's Finnish version of this was called 'Kumipallona luokses pompin ain'): Numminen has recorded Swedish versions from many of his records. He has also made several songs in English, German and Esperanto.
Lately M.A. Numminen has made a return to electronic music and modern club sound. In 2003 Numminen started M.A.N. Scratch Band featuring his long-time collaborator Pedro Hietanen with young jazz musicians Olavi Uusivirta, Lasse Lindgren and DJ Santeri Vuosara (also known as DJ Sane). The duo M.A. Numminen & DJ Sane was started in 2004.
M.A. Numminen has appeared on Radio Suomi since 1984 together with playwright Juha Siltanen on their night show Yömyöhä. In 1986 he published a book called Baarien mies ("The Man of the Bars") on Finnish keskiolut lager culture, for which he visited 350 bars around Finland. The book had a considerable role in the birth of 1980s keskiolut beer culture in Finland.
M.A. Numminen has taken part in over 30 films, either as an actor, scriptwriter, composer or cinematographer.
These are his first two albums, from 67 and 70 respectively...Honestly it's not my favorite thing that's come out of Finland but he was a key innovator for the Finnish avant-garde, up there with the Sperm and others, if nothing else for his involvement with other bands. As for the sound of this particular album, it's sort of like really fucked accordion music mixed with cheap 50's rock and oddball lyrics (in Finnish). It's an acquired taste I guess. If you're into the whole Finnish thing I think it's a necessity at least to hear though.