28.07.2023 - 01.03.2024
Kaukolampi - 1, CD 5.00 EUR
Limited reissue. Black vinyl, regular sleeve, printed insert.
“I wanted to break all structure, to see if all form can be destroyed.” Says K-X-P frontman, Timo Kaukolampi, of his debut solo album. A desire to deconstruct convention is not a new thing for Kaukolampi, given that the Finnish band have been blurring the lines between techno, krautrock, space rock and experimental electronica for the last decade and forging an idiosyncratic and unique sound truly of their own.
Whilst playing some pummelling and PA-testing solo electronic shows over the last year, Kaukolampi has picked up fans such as Erol Alkan, James Holden and Optimo, they were invited to the latter’s 20th anniversary party in Glasgow this year to perform – they’re the group Optimo have booked the most over the two decades. Whilst K-X-P still remains a strong and evolving force, Kaukolampi has created an outlet for something new in his solo endeavours. “I wanted to make music that has more space in it than I usually do. That captures this lonely sense of emptiness, of euphoria and beauty – a deep sadness”, he says, before wrapping up, “It’s a conversation between good and evil, beauty and brutality, and it’s most definitely my inner journey.”
The resulting album is one long track broken up into five titles. Across that runs an eerie dystopian presence driven by pulsating synths and distant beats, whilst stylistically traversing across cosmic disco, techno and dense cinematic ambience with the starting point Kaukolampi’s own radio show. “Initially this album had a lot more beats on it but every Sunday evening I’d play music with no beats: drone, ambient, experimental and noise. This made me change the concept and I discarded the beats for half of the record.” It leaves space for contrast, for discordance and harmony, for gentle and loud, for the tender and the rough. This, explains Kaukolampi, is because he feels one can’t exist without the other. “This album also has that hard violent noise that is more typical for me but I don’t think noise can ever work if it does not have beauty.”
The album was recorded primarily in Helsinki with some parts in Berlin and was distilled down from between 50-70 “jams” that Kaukolampi had been working on over the years. The solitary working process allowed Kaukolampi to rewire his working ways, to rethink his approach, technique and what he wanted to get out of the creative process. “I wanted to break all structure, to see if all form can be destroyed and to see if I can get away from the programming in my brain. I’ve always worked in some song based form: verse, bridge, chorus. I wanted to see if I could make this form disappear.” It also allowed Kaukolampi to think more carefully about his own definitions of techno and whether what he was creating fitted into the typical conventions of that genre. The answer, unsurprisingly, was no. “I love techno but I guess the techno I make does not really suit any genre at the moment. Techno for me means sci-fi, cosmic realms, a sense of the inner journey. Like the dark side of new age music.”
Whilst this record may struggle to land neatly into a pre-existing genre, it does pay tribute to one of electronic music’s pioneers. ‘Epiphyte (Requiem for Mika)’ is a segment of the record that pays tribute to the late, and truly great, Mika Vainio. Musically it gently hums, evoking a mournful and emotive tone in its vast richness and depth. It is named after a strange plant he found in a friend’s garden in Portugal but Kaukolampi felt its tone felt familiar. “ I realised that it had that Mika Vainio-type song title vibe so I dedicated it to him. He was an amazing talent and good friend. I miss him a lot. We all do.”