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SPERM

Progressive Electronic • Finland


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The Finnish underground movement started to formulate after JIMI HENDRIX's year 1967 concert at Helsinki's Kultturitalo venue, and as the news from Monterey's hippie concerts stranded to the far-away arctic peninsula. On that year art critic J.O. Mailander, film director Peter Widén and musician Pekka Airaksinen formed a group named as "Pyhät Miehet" (Holy Men) in Helsinki. Later that year the group was joined by writer and performer Mattijuhani Koponen, who would be a clear leader of the collective establishing its final name SPERM. Along with Turku-based group SUOMEN TALVISOTA, they were the true pioneers of 1960's underground movement in Finland.

Though the few recorded music albums along with some fuzzy photographs are the only available documentations of SPERM's artistic activity, they were witnessed to commit to all kinds of happenings, stage plays, festivals, performances and concerts. Their dadaistic and aggressively chaotic primitive approach was a new thing in a civilization with severe mental scars from the early 20th century wars, but most shocking impact of their activity were their focus to sexual themes, aggressive opposing of formal society's standard values, and open adornment of the shunned weed-smelling lifestyles related to hippie movement.

In the actual happenings, the musical elements were atavistic bellowing, random usage of pianos, flutes and self-constructed instruments, and all these being united to pre-recorded tapes following the logics of free association. Especially these recorded sequences and the early electronic ambiences on SPERM's musical appearance were mostly created by Pekka Airaksinen. These tonal concepts were freely adapted to analogue visual installations and acted performances. Music to one of these theater productions, "Sisyfos" from 1968, is preserved on Pekka Airaksinen's album "One Point Music" released 1972. From the levels of atonal chaos related to the SPERM's philosophy, the early album "3rd Erection" possibly gives a most correct hint, having Mattijuhani Koponen whipping out vocal free flow, and Airaksinen testing new tuning possibilities and playing methods of electric guitar.

The group's members got quite much publicity from their provocations, and Koponen was convicted to jail in 1969 from the obscenities of both performing a poem at an United Nations event dressed only to a wool cap and socks, and performing a sexual copulation with a woman upon a piano as part of a performance...
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SPERM discography


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3.84 | 7 ratings
Shh!
1970

SPERM Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

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SPERM Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.02 | 3 ratings
3rd Erection
1968

SPERM Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Shh! by SPERM album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.84 | 7 ratings

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Shh!
Sperm Progressive Electronic

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

4 stars Two years after their bizarre experimental noise and free improvisation EP "3rd Erection" the Finnish band SPERM release their first and only strange and left-field full-length album with the amusing title SHH! (long before Chumbawumba thought of it!) This one was actually released as a double album on LP in 1970. SPERM may have only released a couple rarities in their day but they stirred up quite the scene in Finnish society and reined supreme in the underground scene. They were notorious for their outlandish performances and concerts that exhibited excellent psychedelic light shows to accompany their divorced-from-reality sonicscapes. Don't let the oft used term "drone" scare you away. This is much more sophisticated than just a repetitive tape loop unfolding to infinity. Each track has its own personality and yes indeed it is experimental but careful listens reveals underlying logic. While the members basically created all of the sounds incorporating samples and experimentation with guitar feedback and effects, it's quite amazing how diverse the soundscapes unfold

"Heinäsirkat I (Locusts)" delivers an extreme echo effect of guitar and tape manipulation. Sounds like listening to an alien invasion concert underwater! Guitar feedback is particularly tripped out with fuzz and reverb that creeps in and out. Reminds me of dolphin echolocation at times. The parts that have what sounds like a swarm of locusts is really scary and utterly alien

"Korvapoliklinikka Hesperia (Ear outpatient clinic western land)" sounds like a heavily distorted bass line of some sort with droning fuzz. This one might actually qualify for the drone label as it plucks away a single note repeating. The buzzing sounds like an amplified electric razor or something and strange ethereal ambience swirls around behind it. Towards the end are some samples of voices that sound as if they are being received on a primitive walkie talkie

"Jazz Jazz" imagine Ornette Coleman playing sax after smoking it out with the caterpillar in "Alice in Wonderland" and you're getting close :P

"Dodekafoninen talvisota (Dodecaphony winter war)" reminds me a bit of Karlheinz Stockhausen as it takes an pointillistic approach of burying an actual composition with layers of syncopated noise counterpoints that are deliberately jolted off key and out of timing to gain the desired effects. This one gets quite violent and probably the most disturbing sounding track on the album. It sounds totally chaotic at first but towards the end emerge the closest beats that could sound like a regular rhythm and a composition bubbles up from the darkness if you listen for it. Very strange track

This is a wild ride recommended for only the hardcore trippers who seek total escape from reality and want to enter an alien soundtrack that they have never experienced before. SPERM proved with their two releases that the most lysergic sounds didn't start with Krautrock and that psychedelic improv through electronic means during this period was merely an extension of the experiments that began in the 50s and then banished to alien world where they were allowed to evolve in totally unearthly manner. Personally i love this kind of stuff and SHH! has some interesting ways of keeping it busy and my attentive ears pricked up throughout its entire run

Like "3rd Erection," this is the rarest of the rare and was only released in limited supply once back in 1970 however it has been released on the compilation "Works 1968-1976" and is readily available on YouTube

4.5 but rounded down

 3rd Erection by SPERM album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1968
3.02 | 3 ratings

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3rd Erection
Sperm Progressive Electronic

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

4 stars Something happened once the floodgates of musical freedom opened when established bands like The Beatles and Jimi Hendrix gave permission to expand the musical boundaries wherever they may lead. Some bands stuck to the pop world with psychedelic frosting on their cake but other bands really went for it with free improvisation taken to unthinkable new arenas. In Canada there was the Nihilist Spasm Band, in the USA was Red Krayola, England had AMM and in far flung places like Finland was THE SPERM. No SPERM isn't a Finnish word for picnic basket or anything of the sort. It's very much the English word. You know the milky liquid your dad squirt into your mama so you could squirm into the world and listen to this stuff. This band was all about true psychedelic freedom and noisy proto-nowave and on their first offering 3RD ERECTION they dropped one of the strangest and noisiest albums in 1968.

This was only an EP and lasted a mere 11 minutes and 24 seconds but it feels much longer as your brain has a hard time comprehending just exactly what in the world is going on. The title track begins with an atonal untuned guitar chaotically strumming with deranged vocals accompanying like a zombie folk song from the grave. This is so whacked out it almost makes me wonder if this sort of stuff was the inspiration for Captain Beefheart's "Trout Mask Replica" except this has no connection to traditional music whatsoever. It's also made all the weirder by the fuzzy production that makes the whole thing feel like it's happening in another dimension that is only getting partially transmitted to ours. The second track "Hero" is actually half way positioned into some kind of folk song only the guitar is quite erratically strummed and the vocals sound like a 20th century schizoid man tripping on LSD at a candy store or something. "Pillow" has spoken word story about something while random notes jangle on with it. "Staffstaff" is weirder than all the rest combined! It amounts to a bunch of noises like a buzzing sound, and i think some strange guitar abuse techniques but i'm not really sure. It sounds like nightmare music! The vocalist sounds like he's trying to chant. Sounds like a very bizarre ritual.

This is truly some of the weirdest random sounds ever laid to tape and released to the public, at least what i've heard and i've listened to lots of totally out-there music! This is only for the free improvisation and noise lovers out there. Everyone else stay away. If you want this be prepared to shell out over 1000$ USD for it. This is the rarest of the rare and was only released in limited supply once back in 1968 however it has been released on the compilation "Works 1968-1976" and is readily available on YouTube which is good enough for me! Personally i love this kind of stuff. 4 fully erect stars from me ;)

 Shh! by SPERM album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.84 | 7 ratings

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Shh!
Sperm Progressive Electronic

Review by Eetu Pellonpaa
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Firstly released through unclear "O Records", this most coherent output from the Finnish capital based underground freaks has been reissued later on CD-R by Pekka Airaksinen's "Dharmakustannus" and also on vinyl by De Stijl label. The first side of the LP begins with "Heinäsirkat I" (Locusts I). This over sixteen minutes long ambient journey space starts with echo-delayed oscillations of a guitar and distant analogue electronic humming. These two sonic entities quietly entwine, and resemble a darker version from Galactic Explorer's or Tangerine Dream's "Zeit" aural landscapes. Later the darker humming evolves as more high pitched feedback, altering the start's serene sequence as more disturbing abstract musical stagnation, which later gains rhythm from volume pulsing. I would believe this song mostly documents Mr. Airaksinen testing his electronic audio generators and possibly doing a second track layer with a guitar over it. On "Korvapoliklinikka Hesperia" it is possible that Nikke Nikamo holds the awesomely roaring low-pitched guitar, at least he has been credited as a composer for this track. It is also possible that the played instruments are also here done by Airaksinen, and the members of the collective participated to the creation process of these tracks with some other mysterious manners. However, the appearing celestial carpet of sound from this reverbed instrument unites with unearthly brilliance of electronic devices and excerpts from official-sounding radiobroadcast, which I believe are from traffic guidance systems of either taxis or emergency patrols, the final phrase stopping to location "Korvapoliklinikka" (an ear dispensary). The B-side spins forward with "Jazz Jazz", freely flowing saxophone solos casting shadows over electronic acoustic walls of tones, staying on very minimalist groovy level. The composition has been credited for Ilkka "Emu" Lehtinen, who later committed to prosperous record dealing and music business, and Antero Helander, who I believe played the saxophone. Mr.E. Kuitunen is also credited from the composition. The final long track "Dodekafoninen talvisota", who also has Nikke Nikamo credited as a composer, stands for twenty minutes lasting aural collage of percussions, noises and ambient humming. All this concludes as an album certainly worth of recommending for collectors of vintage avant-gardist psychedelic electronics, delivered from the iconic Finnish underground pioneers.
 3rd Erection by SPERM album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1968
3.02 | 3 ratings

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3rd Erection
Sperm Progressive Electronic

Review by Eetu Pellonpaa
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

2 stars Mattijuhani Koponen described his intentions with the album as to create "freak-out" music. Most certainly succeeded attempt, and also reaching unique heights of non-commercialism from Finnish musical scene of the time of recording. The title track introduces the sound for which the whole release is practically built on, atonal lo-fi abstractions from voices generated with electric guitar and amplified vocal shrieking with poor recording quality. These tonal elements are assembled as grotesque sculptures on rattling radio signal resembling scenery. "Hero" has more recognizable gonzo-rhythm, and reminds the most ancestral krautrock rites On the B-side of the album, "Pillow" is borne from mechanical raw voices and mechanically treated reciting, and the final "Staffstaff" alienates toward very distant sounds, fast pace rolling faint signals spinning freely on tone of naivistic fanfare. As a whole, a really obscure record, not in my opinion a source for much listening enjoyment, but certainly an avant-gardist statement, which possibly contains timeless qualities of confusion.
Thanks to Eetu Pellonpää for the artist addition.

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