This ‘Jaakko Eino Kalevi’ article was written by Lewis Bassett, a GIGsoup contributor
‘Jaakko Eino Kalevi’ creates music that floats and his eponymous release gravitates like a feather in a soft summer breeze.
From Peaking Lights to Hookworms, the ‘Weird World’ label has assimilated a sizeable roster of acts with unique identities, and Jaakko is no exception. The artists own heady brand of pop-with-a-twist is largely unique. Think of a deadpan Ariel Pink who has swapped R. Stevie Moore’s basement for the Paradise Garage. Its languid, dreamy pop music held together by tight grooves and buckets of quirky and unforgettable melodies.
What is so charming about this sound is how ethereal yet totally comprehensible and catchy it is. It’s both sonically fascinating yet languid – like a subtle daydream. Kalevi has spent the last eight or so years conducting trams around Helsinki. This job, although monotonous and uninspiring in itself, gave Kalevi the opportunity to pen his ideas and construct the kind of idiosyncratic, cerebral jams found on this album.
The first half of the album carries on where 2013’s ‘Dreamzone EP’ left off; tight, disco rooted grooves plod along and form a template for catchy melodic hooks with a distinctly new-wave sensibility. Tracks like ‘Deeper Shadows’ and ‘Double Talk’ (incidentally the two lead singles) are the most representative of his sound as a whole – dreamy down-tempo pop which drifts along as vocal lines and instantly memorable hooks play off one another. In a similar vein ‘Say’ and ‘Mind Like Muscle’ blend shimmering synth-pop and warm, hypnotic percussion through Kalevi’s distinctively hazy filter. These songs are restrained and yet totally compelling– balancing perfectly on the right side of weird – thanks in no small part to his ability to manufacture instantly memorable pop melodies which glide effortlessly alongside the instrumentation.
But it’s the latter half of the record we see a shift away from dreamzone-esque stylistics in favour of a more stripped down sound which truly showcases the depth of Kalevi’s songwriting talent. ‘Dont Ask Me Why’ is a melancholic piano ballad with delicate and jazzy percussion; recalling the somber and sentimental French-pop of Serge Gainsboug. ‘Room’ is equally delicate, with shimmering synth and a elevating chorus that has a dreamy, childlike quality reminiscent of the Glo-folk of Nick Drake or John Martyn. It’s only when the funky phased guitar of ‘Hush Down’ comes in that you’re woken from a semi-slumber and suddenly reminded that there’s a world beyond the cozy never-zone his music inhabits.
It’s a rare and satisfying experience to hear a record which channels a single vibe throughout and yet produces nine tracks that are equally unique and identifiable. From the first seconds of this release the dreamy scene has been set, but it’s not till the closing note of the 6-minute ‘Ikuinen Purkautumaton Jännite’ (‘translated as ‘Eternal Ejected Voyage’) that it seems suitable to end. If there are two things to take from this review it’s that this kind of musical cohesion is a gift and that ‘Jaakko Eino Kalevi’ is absolutely worth your time.
‘Jaakko Eino Kalevi’ is out now on Domino Recording.
The full track-listing for ‘Jaakko Eino Kalevi’ is as follows…
‘Mind Like Muscle’
‘Night At the Field’
‘Don’t Ask Me Why’
‘Ikuinen Purkautumaton Jännite’