Lumotto Karkkipurkki (Vapaa Systeemi)
s one of the earliest releases in the illustrious career of KY, Lumotto Karkkipurkki has bounced around from reissue to reissue, traversing the globe from Finland to Celebrate Psi Phenomenon in New Zealand. Looking at the frequent flier mileage on the album alone, one would figure that Lumotto would be exhausted by now. But the record has the lasting power to justify yet another reissue from Tampere, Finland’s Fonal Records.
Like any long-lasting project, KY has undergone many changes since the first release of Lumotto in 2001. KY began as, and in some sense remains, a studio project to allow main and sometimes only member Jan Anderzen to indulge in a wide array of unsettling production tricks. Lumotto is one of the first artifacts from the band. From the start, Anderzen refuses to control his music. Lumotto sounds furiously unhinged, with notes slipping lazily off guitars and voices rattling in corners as if a group of flame-eyed stoners was soundtracking a too-long stay in the basement. But despite it lunatic spontaneity, Lumotto remains a solo studio venture. There’s a willfulness to the songs that reveals the man behind the boards. As such, its forced looseness can feel like sloppiness, leading one to hope for KY to either show some discipline or let go completely.
In the ensuing years, Anderzen spent enough time in the freewheeling Avarus collective that the spirit of group improvisation infuses later work like 2004’s Alkuhärka. And indeed Alkuhärka is more fully realized than Lumotto. The other players stand apart on Alkuhärka, and one could almost confuse it for a jam session if not for the impeccable structures that could only congeal with the deliberation afforded by the studio. But the arrangements are so organic that the record still feels like the document of one amazing night by the fire, when musicians aligned rather than performed.
But Lumotto’s imperfections are also its charms; it is not merely a warm-up for Alkuhärka. In Lumotto Anderzen uses the producer’s tools more liberally, freeing it from the free-folk cage KY seems to have been imprisoned in.
At times, the album veers to electronics. “Aaveet” channels the analog brutality of Pan Sonic, albeit a more playful version with an untuned acoustic guitar added to the mix. And DAT Politics must’ve broken in to lend the sugar-high synths and scattered debris to the eerie closer “Aarre.” The glitchery of the title track sports a positively avante garde sound that foils those who would pin down KY as yet another band looking back on Amon Düül.
And that’s only one way that Anderzen uses his studio time wisely. Let us not forget the wonderfully frightening helium voices of “Systeemi 6” and the amateur gamelan of “Af Rikka.” Clearly Anderzen felt free to do anything he wanted on the record. Running through fifteen tracks in 38 minutes, Lumotto is full of wantonly discarded ideas, half-finished masterpieces, and cherished disasters.
The tension between the gleeful mania of this record and its almost obsessive overproduction (as evinced by the sheer density of nearly every track) eventually sends queasy shivers through the listener. It’s as if one is trapped with a madman. His actions seem senseless, but by the glint in his eye, you know he’s operating with a logic beyond your ken. As far as you’re concerned, anything may happen, but the outcome already dances on the crooked smile breaking over his lips.