The Finns don’t have it easy—half the world isn’t sure exactly where their country is located or what language they speak, and their neighbors have a history of isolating them when they aren’t trying to invade. Personally, I think Helsinki is pretty cool. And being an anomaly isn’t always a bad thing—especially when it gives your take on underground music its own special flair.
Which is exactly the case with Finland’s contribution to minimal synth/synthpop.
Here’s what you need to know:
In Finland futurist synthpop was dubbed “fubu.” This alone is great. Add to the mix quintessential Finnish fubu act Organ and things get even better. The brainchild of former punk frontman Mikko Saarela and the duo from Argon, they released a cover of Mauno Paajanen song, “Kundi meikkaa” ("A Guy Makes Up") in 1981 and their album Nekrofiilis on Poko Records the following year.
Organ: Kärpästen juhlat
The best-known track on Organ’s album was originally written and recorded by band member Mikko Saarela as a solo single. According to pHinnWeb, it’s an anti-war song, mocking clichés of a few Finnish patriotic hymns and addressing animal rights, helping third world countries, and bureaucracy. Synthpop with soul?
Organ – Itäväylä
Organ - Kani Kertoo
When your band’s name is a portmanteau of Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff, you better be cool. According to Dark Entries Records who released mini retrospective/compilation “Once Upon a Time,” Belaboris was the creation of producer Kimmo Miettinen, who decided what Finland really needed was an all-girl band that was hot, but backed by people who could actually play their instruments. Sexist? Yes. Good music? Totally. When you have a band that isn’t really a band, but a manufactured act, the turnover rate can be pretty high. Belaboris’ original members were Vilma Vainikainen ( main vocals), Sisko Vainikainen and Rita (back-up vocals) and indispensable Jake and Mari who didn’t sing at all. The quality control came from their backing band, local New Wave group Tyhjät Patterit (which translates as “Empty Batteries”). Belaboris’ debut 12″ single “Kuolleet Peilit” was released in November 1982, followed by the 7″ single “Odotus” in February 1983, complete with a B-side cover of Serge Gainsbourg’s “Baby Pop”. The band broke up, posthumously released mini-LP called “Olipa Kerran” in 1984, and a few months later was resurrected with all new members. Sadly, v. 2.0 didn’t survive either. But luckily all the music did.
Belaboris - Kuolleet Peilit.
This may be the greatest music video ever made.
Belaboris- Baby Pop
Puts France Gall to shame.
More tracks can be heard here: http://www.darkentriesrecords.com/store/dark-entries/belaboris-once-upon-a-time-lp/
Tapa Paha Tapa
Not much is known about this short-lived Finnish band. I spent some time searching Finnish blogs, (no, I don’t speak Finnish) until I found the site of founding member Otso Pakarinen...in English. In Pakarinen’s own words:
In 1982 I moved to Helsinki, the Finnish capital (to study astronomy - mainly because I didn't manage to get to an art school) and formed a synth pop band called Tapa Paha Tapa. We released one cassette, "Aurinko" by ourselves. It's a mixture of quirky, melodic synth pop songs (in Finnish) and electronic ambient instrumentals. We sold a good few copies of it and did some gigs.
Tapa Paha Tapa - Vanha Suola Janottaa (1983)