‘Simple Music For Complicated People’ is the latest album from Jori Hulkkonen.
Last year Jori Hulkkonen showed us around his studio. He has since been busy crafting his latest album ‘Simple Music For Complicated People’ which as a title doubles up as the tagline for his long running clubnight Nuclear Winter Garden.
When asked, he says there are no apparent DJ friendly tracks here as this is more of a “enjoying a nice glass of wine next to your home stereo hi-fi system while contemplating the coming collapse of western civilization“ type of album.
With that in mind we ask him to talk us though how and why he made, it track by track.
A few years back there was a challenge on a Finnish Facebook-group where someone had put his zoom-recorder inside a very noisy fridge backstage at a club in Helsinki called Kuudes Linja. The challenge was to make a track using only sounds made by the fridge. Aside the pads and vocals, this track was made only using the sounds of the fridge.
The vocal is me telling a story where I meet a girl at the same club and she is as cold as the fridge.
I’m a firm believer in science and have very little place in my heart for any sort of mysticism or the occult aside from the cynical entertainment value. Therefore it’s quite surprising that the haunting melody for this song came to me after a spiritist session, which at the time I thought was a total waste of time. It took me a while to figure out how to flesh out this particular track, but then I heard the final song in a dream and then it was just a matter of executing it. Such are the strange powers of the subconscious.
Europe starts with an e
I’ve had this title in my notebook for years, and I always wanted to make this crazy acid party bomb with Tiga “singing” that line. For some reason we never did that. One night when I was noodling around some arpeggios, I just thought I’d dedicate the quirky factoid that all the other continents begin with an “A”, whereas Europe started with ‘E” to it.
I feel I really wasted a great title on this, which made me kinda happy as it made me realize that I can afford that. The song ends rather prophetically me stating that I know Europe will end. You see, the collapse is near (see my previous album for details). One aspect of this album was to keep some tracks as short as possible
as opposed to me usually stretching ideas to 7 minutes plus.
i’d never hurt you (permanently)
Based around a sequence done with my modular set-up and the 808, this is one of the centrepieces of the album. I really like its claustrophobic lo-fi atmosphere. I also love tracks that are able to surprise you in terms of sounds and structure, while still sounding like something you actually might want to listen to again. It’s very easy to get all arty and self-indulgent, but I have this pop sensibility I wanna keep somewhere in there, sometimes hidden.
When I sent the album for mastering the comment from the engineer was “this is really not very happy music at all”. Swipe that smile away!
A power ballad. This came together incredibly quickly and yet again is a track based around an arpeggio and a chord change. I’m a fan of simplistic pop songs that can deliver an idea and an atmosphere in 3 minutes as opposed to epic electronic dance floor anthems that need 7 minutes for you to get into (I love those too). The world really lost a great songwriter in me (I have no idea what I even mean by that).
The first of two guests on the album appear here with the saxophone being played by Sara. Memory
Times is also the name of a half decent pizza joint near my studio.
offline for the last time
So one evening I just opened a bottle of wine, turned on the equipment and suddenly next morning this was on my hard drive. As anyone making music knows, there are songs that just happen. You don’t know where or
why they came from and sometimes they are the ones that are the most honest and interesting ones…at least to yourself. I played the bassline live on the Jupiter-4 which gives the track its distinct groove.
On this album I actually tried to make the sequenced stuff sound really tight while at the same time leaving the live stuff unedited for the most part. I felt this adds a nice contrast, an organic feel and creaties an illusion of it being a band performing the tracks. (YesI realise it isn’t).
on the road to miero
The oldest song on the album. Originally started maybe 5 years ago when I just simply wanted to write a song with a 4/4 rimshot (and failed at that as it’s in 3/4), mainly because of “Brown Eyes” by
Fleetwood Mac. Apart from the basic chords, this track remained in the bottomless “needs more ideas” folder.
A couple of years later Ennio Morricone was performing live in Helsinki with a 200-piece strong orchestra and choir that sparked me to try to do something that I thought sounded “Italian” (can I say that in 2018?)
I ended writing some lyrics and originally this was a proper ‘vintage vibe popsong’ just not a very good one. It subsequently went back to the folder. Fast forward again a couple of years and I’m working with up and coming artist Leeko who is a classically trained vocalist and I was reminded again of this track that’d been echoing in my mind. When she sang one of the synth lines with her eerie and angelic voice it basically nailed the track.
From a production point of view, this one was very complex as it has me playing live drums, guitar and all sorts of things which I usually leave to professionals. Mixing this song took forever, but I think it’s one of my prouder moments.
This came about around the same time as “offline for the last time”: simple chords, bassline, mournful ‘melody’ and all reminiscent of some distant era in Intelligent Dance Music from the 90’s.
Interestingly, apart from a couple of hi-hats, all the sounds were done on a Roland SH-101 and even the chords were layered one note at a time. The title does not only refer to the artificial and false sense of freedom we sometimes think we experience, but also on the coming ecological catastrophe on which plastic plays a small but crucial part.
ufo for africa
With this album I really tried to make some non-structured atmospheric tracks and mostly failed…naturally! I like doing these several hour long hardware based jams in the studio at night in the style of, say,
Tangerine Dream, which are great fun but usually I’ll end up with nothing too significant.
Every now and then I’m determined to capture some pieces from these sessions. This particular track was originally inspired by The Orb’s “A Huge Evergrowing Pulsating BrainThat Rules From The Centre of the Ultraworld”, the John Peel version, to be exact.
Casey Spooner once called me an “arpeggio whore” and he may not have been wrong.
A Group of Scientist Write a Lofi Disco Track While on the Verge of Creating a General Artificial Intelligence
The title is pretty self explanataory on this and the following track. I had the idea of doing these as a two track EP, but eventually ended up including them on the album. Although initially they sounded slightly out of place, I then tweaked the rest of the album to basically build up to these two tracks.
I love coming up with a non musical concept first and then trying to do something satisfying with it musically. In a way it liberates you from the constraints you sometimes feel you have with your own music. It’s all very over the top. I love the last 15 seconds of this song.
A Song Written by a General Artificial Intelligence Just Before Wiping Out Humanity
The opening line along with its melody is something I’ve had in my head close to 30 years and it may well have been inspired by Supertramp I never really had an opportunity to use it anywhere, but when I started fleshing out this duo of songs I knew it fitted the theme perfectly.
Production-wise I wanted to do something similar to what I did with my track “A New Cold War” a few years back, as these tracks live in the same universe/timeline. The outro is totally inspired by Propaganda’s “Dr Mabuse” the 10 minute version.
I’m no keyboardist per se and certainly not a pianist. However, I do love sitting at the keys late at night, turning the lights down low, having a glass of wine and playing the piano. Needless to say this song came out of the excitement and eventual disappointment of the new Blade Runner soundtrack. What a wasted opportunity, and what made it worse was that the film itself was pretty much the best possible sequal to what is my all time favourite film.
I’m a cliché on so many levels.
Jori Hulkkonen’s ‘Simple Music For Complicated People’ is released 28thSeptember via My Favourite Robots Records.