club telex opening night, 24 march 1999
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In early 1999 it was decided by a few local individuals, who had had some experience with organising events consisting of music and short films in Tampere, Finland, and who had become bored by local nightlife, that the town would need a new kind of club for experimental electronic music and avantgarde. The club would have live acts, DJs and also some avantgardistic short films would be shown in between performances. Some careful preparations were made during that winter, and the first Club Telex finally opened its doors on 27 March, 1999; with two live acts, Nu Science and Op:l Bastards, both from Helsinki.
So, from one of the organisers' point of view, a few words about the opening night of Club Telex. We showed first four short movies; personally I liked the best the needle animation of Alex Alexeieff and the "Afterlife" animation by Petal with its beautiful colours. Those two camp things we had, the film where Kyllikki Virolainen (the wife of a senior Finnish politician, for all you care) gave us her immortal opinions about meaningful life and the one about the dog doodie problem in Helsinki perhaps would have needed more alcohol as their companion; now they mostly made yours truly only to squirm and keep watching his clock (with all due respect to Antti Vuorio, who had hand-picked these films for us to watch, any of which I hadn't seen beforehand, bar Futuro).
Then a pause followed and DJs mini and pHinn did their best to torture the audience's eardrums with vintage Finnish electronic music: Erkki Kurenniemi, Sperm, Pekka Airaksinen.
Soundcheck: Henri of Nu Science with DJ Mini in the background
Enter Nu Science. The guys, Mikko Ojanen and Henri Tani, had dragged with them to the stage a respectable arsenal of analogue electronics. Their sound was still very lo-fi/ambient, taking its inspiration from the 80's Commodore 64 aesthetics, and not much mercy was given to the dance-hungry ravers and local homeboys. The drum machines went crackle, crackle and crackle, the synths said whoosh and bleerb. There were some tracks, though, venturing to the "melodic" domain of Kraftwerk and 70s/80s synthpop, like Space Bar and Qwerty, so maybe this is the direction for Nu Science to go next?
A series of slides was projected to the screen behind the band, where you could see some neat computer graphics and the title of each track playing. Nice. One thing that bothered me, though, was that there was a short pause in between every song, which must have been caused by the unstability of their analogue instruments, obviously needing constant re-tuning and looking like they were going to break at any given moment. Which of course just increased the unpredictability and underground [sic] atmosphere of the whole event. Messieurs Ojanen and Tani, you are a cult, what else can I say.
Henri Tani of Nu Science
Then, time to activate the DJ drones again. The long-awaited Futuro film was on its way, so some suitable music was needed to warm up the occasion. Jean-Jacques Perrey's E.V.A. and Dick Hyman's swooshing rendition of James Brown's Give It Up Or Turn It Loose (also heard on the film's soundtrack), and also the Moog Cookbook version of the Eels' Novocaine For The Soul tuned us to the late-60's retro-futurist synthetic mood of Futuro.
If you haven't seen the film yet, start donating your vital organs now to pay a trip to the nearest film festival showing this Mika Taanila's masterpiece, or chain yourself to the door of your local TV station, and tell them you're not going to leave before they have ensured themselves the rights to show the film. In nutshell (if you already didn't know), the 30-minute film is a story about the rise and fall of the late-60's Finnish plastic house, designed by the architect Matti Suuronen; reminiscing UFO, with loads of original film clips and interviews from the people, who were somehow involved in the creation and marketing of Futuro house, and so on. A must see if you're a pop culture fan or retro-design freak. The film also featured celebrities like Andy Warhol visiting Futuro, and loads of hilarious still pictures, like the series of "galactic sex goddesses" invading Earth in Futuro, taken from the photo sessions of the Swedish porn magazine Privat.
Time to unleash the DJ hounds again. Ananda Shankar's sitar/Moog rendition of Jumping Jack Flash accompanied us to the evening's final climax, the live show of Op:l Bastards (previously known as Opel Bastards, before the call from the lawyers of Adam Opel). Op:l Bastards, the electronic hellspawn of the garage-rock band Larry and the Lefthanded, is now three members: T.A. Kaukolampi, Vilunki 3000 and as the latest addition, Tuamo (obviously of the lounge act Elevators, if I'm not too mistaken?). The band is on its steady way to godhood, with a mixture of electro, analogue synth noodlings, funk, Krautrock, postrock and whatever. Vilunki also played electric bass, Kaukolampi made some peculiar space vocals out of his vocoder and Tuamo looked like the long-lost member of 22-Pistepirkko at his keyboards.
Op:l Bastards played some songs from their 1998 EP, such as Spraybeat and the biggest underground dance track in Finland last year, Funking, as a seven-minute version. Also some new tracks like Sagittarius and Jet Black Man were heard. Op:l Bastards are superbaaad electronic Muppets and space invaders smoking extra-strength psychedelic skunk, ready to take the unexpecting listener to the horny wormhole in the center of galaxy, so may the pHunk be with you. Murdercapital, give these guys a record contract NOW.
This is supposed to be an amplifier or something
Back to the surface of Earth, where the NATO B52's had just started bombarding Belgrade with their cruise missiles, and somewhere in a distant northern workers' town two DJs tried to face reality after having experienced a whole night of continuing audiovisual ecstasy. Unfortunately, this turned out to be too much for most people, who had to return next morning to their 9-to-5 jobs and sociology lectures and to meet their social workers and so on. It wasn't a Saturday night; we weren't able to present any super DJs to play uplifting house music to raise your hands and shout to, and no amount of E and GHB seemed to be around (not to talk about the latest fun craze of Tampere ravers, nitrous oxide pellets), so obviously we didn't have all the necessary elements to keep the local party crowd happy.
Some efforts to maintain the electronic heat was had, though, with Afrika Bambaataa, Aux 88 and Kraftwerk, but mostly this seemed to be in vain, so the bar with ambient beer and cosmic chili nuts was calling Mr pHinn, and it was Mr Mini's turn in DJ booth to provide the music for the remaining few, while pHinn made some pathetic efforts in socialising and picking up some groupies; the latter unfortunately turned out be members of male sex, so the safe DJ booth was calling again back to its warm, cosy womb. Mini brought to the evening some immortal glory in the form of Stakker Humanoid; then pHinn turned on auto-pilot (you have to always do your best to entertain the ladies, some of them were luckily left on the dance floor): Cassius, Altern 8, I-f, Air goes Moog Cookbook, Orbital's latest, Style, Candy Flip's dream-hop version of Strawberry Fields Forever. pHinn has a vague recollection that at some point Lost Transmission From Planet Earth by Red Planet and DJ Hell's Copa were heard, too.
Finally it was time to eventually crash all kind of techno credibility whatsoever and for good, so there ensued a late night orchestral sci-fi ballad session of Scott Walker, Zager & Evans' In the Year 2525, Visage's Fade To Grey and in the end, Blues Section's Semi-Circle Solitude, which always shoots an arrow straight to your heart. The lights flashed and we all faded away. Thanks and good night.
pHinn (photography: Vilunki 3000. Used with permission.)
PS. Oh, by the way, Club Telex opening night had 164 paying customs altogether, and the bar had sold booze for about 9.000 Finnish marks' worth (don't know how much it's in the Euros or Yankee bucks, and to be honest, don't care). Isn't life swell?
DJ mini with his camera in the backroom