Pekka Airaksinen is a legend of the European musical underground, and The Sperm was his first outfit. Active from 1967 to 1971, they challenged every possible norm society and the current musical climate had. Ungodly racket to some, psychedelic experience to others, The Sperm’s Shh! album and their EP 3rd Erection have become legendary collector’s items, far ahead of their time in terms of musical experimentation. Svart Records have joined forces with Pekka Airaksinen, whose archives have now been opened for The Sperm’s 50th birthday. The limited 4LP/2CD set features carefully restored editions of Shh!, 3rd Erection and One Point Music. Almost half of all the material, however, is completely previously unreleased.
The Sperm was formed in 1967 in Helsinki. The band was short-lived but left a permanent mark on the history of Finnish avant-garde and freedom of speech. They were an experimental group whose shows included scandalous film screenings and performances. They were also more than a band: a free joint venture, a network or – as Mattijuhani Koponen often put it – ”a community of cells whose purpose was to bring life and beauty to the world”.
Sperm and its members’ various art projects resulted in so many legal acts and so much censorship that they were quite certainly the most harassed art ensemble in Finnish cultural history. Koponen, the frontman of the band, and filmmaker Peter Widén are one of the rare Finns who have spent time in prison due to their artistic work.
In the 1960s The Sperm was the most uncompromising group in the underground scene. They didn’t care about their audience’s taste, understanding or approval. Their visualist Markus Heikkerö thought that they were truly ”Finland’s only true underground band, a band outside of society”. The band financed their records themselves and together with their friends also tried to start an alternative cultural center in the heart of Helsinki.
Sperm’s most enduring artistic monument is the music. The curious experimentalist, Pekka Airaksinen, created groundbreaking electronic music with an electric guitar and tape recorders in his cottage. The music combined avant-garde, free jazz, experimental rock and psychedelic influences. Sperm didn’t play ”pop music”, but they created one of the most unique chapters of Finnish pop music history.