01
May
09

music post: aurora borealis

kalevala

Anyone out there remember the KLF?  Back in the early 90s, they more or less defined the pop-techno genre, bringing electronic beats to the masses by scoring several chart hits, most notably 3am Eternal.  What you probably don’t know is that the KLF were really a duo of UK-based performance artists who experimented heavily with music and the nature of pop culture icons.  They played around with sampling before most people even knew what it was and had all copies of their first album, 1987, destroyed (by court order) for sampling too many well-known pop songs.  Their success was entirely accidental, and, having no desire to actually become pop stars, they announced (while on top of the charts) that they were leaving the music business and deleted their back-catalog.  Several years later, under the name K-Foundation, they burned the last million pounds they had earned as the KLF.  But they didn’t completely stop making music…

Under various aliases they’ve released a few singles here and there, but probably their best post-KLF work has been as the engineers of the Kalevala record label.  In 1997, working with local artists in Finland, they produced and recorded six singles, only released on 7″ vinyl and limited to 500 copies.  The music spanned genres from punk to surf to trip hop, with each record essentially sounding completely different (the only connective tissue was the use of Helsinki backup singers on nearly all the tracks, chanting in Finnish (naturally)).  The music was brilliant and a full length CD containing all the tracks and more was promised.

Sadly, the CD was never delivered (the KLF folks get bored notoriously easily) which means very few have ever had a chance to hear these tracks.  One of my favorites is the lush “Aurora Borealis;” it’s very ambient/atmospheric but by no means electronic – a wide variety of gentle instrumentation gives it a rich quality that only real, analog instruments can provide (the vinyl source doesn’t hurt, either :-)  Here it is:

aurora-borealis-13

Take note that, given the style of this piece, I think fans of BSG would really dig it (i.e. lots of ethereal vocals and notable percussion).

You can look here to read more about the history of the Kalevala label and music.

Enjoy the track and let me know what you think in the comments section.  Have a great weekend!


15 Responses to “music post: aurora borealis”


  1. May 1, 2009 at 5:31 pm

    Doctor Whooooooooooo (badum badum)

  2. 2 Colonial Warrior
    May 1, 2009 at 6:06 pm

    Here you’ll find some more background on The Ancients of Mu Mu
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_KLF

    And where is the science fiction in on all this well the link above has the fact of the Timelords who did one of the best Dr. Who tunes out there “Docterin The Tardis” Needless to say they were ahead of their time with the Rave music before it took hold of the music
    world.

    You can find Docterin the Tardis here..

    Enjoy and Thanks Mojo for bringing the past back to the present excellent taste in music.

  3. May 2, 2009 at 5:09 am

    Love The KLF but as far as Doctor Who is concerned Orbital did a far better job of it than The KLF and I was hoping that the 2005 reincarnation of Dr Who would’ve use something like the Orbital track or at least something closer to the original BBC’s Radiophonic workshop production. The semi classical noise-fest that’s the current theme is okay but not quite right.

  4. 4 Centurion005
    May 2, 2009 at 8:47 am

    Some chamala would go great while listening to this song.I like Bear’s music better.Though it does sound like there singing in Gemonese or Tauron.How come you decided to do a post not about CGI or root beer?Just wondering.

  5. 5 mangababe
    May 2, 2009 at 1:54 pm

    Ah, those were the days. I remember playing the KLF and the JAMMs when I was a club DJ in the late 80’s. I loved The Timelords! Still have the 12″. It was a stroke of brilliance to remix the Doctor Who theme with Gary Glitter’s Rock and Roll.

  6. May 4, 2009 at 3:05 am

    i don’t have any memories about the KLF (probably too young to realize at that time…) but a few years ago a friend borrowed me a fun little book written by one of them, which describes (in a kind of sarcastic/irconic way) their voyage into the music business.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Manual

    i recommend reading this for everyone who is interested in music, music business, or just want to have a fun read ;)

  7. 7 Joanne
    May 5, 2009 at 12:19 pm

    Hey Mojo, thanks for the flashback! I loved 3 a.m. eternal when it came out. I have to say that it still sounds very relevant compared to some of the modern techno. I’ll be checking out Kalevala. And I like the aurora borealis song.

  8. May 6, 2009 at 5:06 pm

    Nothing to do with the KLF/JAMM, but since “Doctorin the Tardis” seems to have retained its popularity it might do to mention the Whomix re-mix/re-imagining project. More Doctor Who theme variations than you can shake a sonic screwdriver at:
    http://whomix.trilete.net/?wmid=music

  9. May 7, 2009 at 6:30 am

    Hey Mojo, post something, will ya? You’re losing readers.

  10. 11 Mikvi
    May 7, 2009 at 10:02 am

    Däng! As I browsed to Darth Mojo’s blog to see new entries and saw the flag of my own home land (I am finnish… as probably guessed) I wondered what has happened?!? Well, I just wanted to clear some stuff… about the aurora borealis chanting… that is not finnish but sang in language called sami which is the language of saame-people who live in north parts of Finland, Norway and Sweden. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sami_languages

    Kalevala is also a finnish national epic poem which is told in finnish and tells us how the world was created and all sort of heroic tales. J.R.R. Tolkein was a fan of it and most of Quenya -language is based in finnish language structure.

    Not to bore you more… but it was once again nice to read you blog.

  11. 12 Colonial Warrior
    May 8, 2009 at 12:33 am

    Mikvi,

    Correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t LORDI a band from there too? Great music and excellent videos. Winners of the EuroVision contest first time out.

  12. 13 darthmojo
    May 9, 2009 at 1:14 am

    MALITIA: Yes, you are refering to what is known simply as “THE MANUAL.” The KLF self-published this guide on how to make a #1 hit single. Basically, they analyzed all the chart-topping pop songs and identified the common qualities they all shared; if you copy those qualities in your own pop song, you should be able to write a chart-topping song! In fact they purposely followed their own guidelines and created “Doctorin’ The Tardis” to prove the point.

    Does it work? From an online source: “Edelweiss is, to my knowledge, one of the only acts who actually succeeded in making the KLF Manual on how to have a number one hit single record come true: based on ABBA’s S.O.S. this tacky euro trash gem replicates each and every steps to global chart domination as devised by the KLF and applied to Doctorin’ The Tardis respect, I guess.”

    MIKVI: Thanks for the clarification! If you have the time, I’d love to hear the translation for what those two girls are saying during the first few minutes of the track…

  13. 14 Neal_with_an_"a"
    May 19, 2009 at 11:38 am

    I’ve always enjoyed the KLF’s music and was completely surprised to find that the grand finale of The Blue Man Group’s Las Vegas show features their “Last Train to Trancentral”. Man that sounded great played at very high volume in a world-class theater while the strobe lights were flashing and the crowd was going wild! Good times, good times.

  14. 15 christian
    June 18, 2009 at 3:18 am

    oooh very nice, i love it. i loved the experimental and groundbreaking nature of the KLF/JAMs. Would love to hear more of their Kalevala stuff if u have it. Wish more musicians were as daring.


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