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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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3.86 | 2 ratings
Shh!
1970

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2.00 | 1 ratings
3rd Erection
1968

SPERM Reviews


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 Shh! by SPERM album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.86 | 2 ratings

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Shh!
Sperm Progressive Electronic

Review by Eetu Pellonpää
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.

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 3rd Erection by SPERM album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1968
2.00 | 1 ratings

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3rd Erection
Sperm Progressive Electronic

Review by Eetu Pellonpää
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

— First review of this album —
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.

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