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Advanced Art – Archive | Review by Vox Empirea

Advanced Art are part of that European old-school élite appreciated for contributing to the growth of the contemporary alternative-electronic music. Today, deservedly, twenty years after the dissolution of this project, the band finally becomes legend. In the Advanced Art’s biographical / discographical genesis is mentioned at first a remote, originary demo appearance as Abstract, epithet changed during some primordial live-shows into another one called Authorized Version. Advanced Art were founded in the October 1985 in Tampere, Finland, remaining officially productive until 1995 with the following line-up: Pasi “Jana” Janhunen ( vox / lyrics ) and Petya “Vince” Valasvaara ( machines / musics ) plus the live-member Petri “Pete” Huttunen ( machines ). The artistic activity of the musicians is not ceased with the extinction of their band: in fact, Jana and Vince, in addition with the percussionist PW they still continue to perform as Advanced Art in occasional live-concerts, satisfying always the fans through their ageless miscellany of songs, but also achieving excellent outcomes in more recent times by parallel projects such as the electro-industrial band Impakt! – formed in 2010 by Vince, PW and Sam – or in writing musics together with other representatives of the technological scene, as in the case of Jana with the Finnish electropop-act named Camp Electronique. However, historically, the Advanced Art, by their own admission, they have never distinguished themselves as true live-performers in the strict sense of this term, especially because of their singular, conscious choice to play rarely and only at not ordinary locations, mostly corresponding to abandoned, sparsely frequented and urbanely marginal places. This apparently counterproductive habit, it instead got an unexpected positive consequence: in fact, it has paradoxically helped to increase the charisma of the project, arousing more and more into the fans and into the opinion-makers the certainty of being in presence of a true “underground cult band”, a royal effigy by now now assigned ‘in omne tempus’ to Advanced Art. Of great importance is also the alternation of live-musicians who accompanied in the past years the platform: is therefore appropriate and necessary to mention at first the name of Pete ( machine / live-percussions ), present since 1985 to 1990 and member of the Finnish electro / industrial / EBM bands Shade Factory and [Active] Media Disease. Auten, aka Otto A ( machines / live sound engineer ) was integrated into the project from 1987 to 1988, while Reeta ( machines / live-synth / second vox ) played with Advanced Art from 1989 to 1992. Factor, aka Jakko Tuohimaa ( machines / live percussions / additional-songwriter ) – the founder with Vesa Rainne and Ville Brusi of the synth-tecnopop band Neuroactive – cooperated from 1992 to 1993, as well as P.W. ( live percussions ) entered into the ensemble between 1993 and 1995, who concluded in this same year with Jana and Vince the long career of Advanced Art and, as described above, continuing play with them until today’s live-sessions. The figure of the sound-engineer Meelis Niin had a big role in the composition and completion of musics created by the band’s members, working with them between 1991 and 1995. The Advanced Art’s style was characterized in the early periods by a strong synthpopish inclination, immediately transmuted in following times into more defined, mature experimental electronic formulations, consisting in darkly hissed vocalizations and sounds circumscribed into an electro / industrial / EBM range, denoting a strong, unmistakable personality. The project’s discography was marked at the beginning by three self-produced demo-tapes released in limited edition: first of them was “Abstract” of 1987, containing three tracks created under the same Abstract pseudonym, followed always in 1987 by “Act Now Abstr Later”, the second demo of thirteen songs distribuited in a very-limited quantity of thirty copies, anticipating the self-titled release “Advanced Art” of ten songs, printed and published in 1988 in limited edition of fifty exemplaires. Also in 1988 was the time of the 7″ split-vinyl titled “Black Roses / No Answers No Solutions”, fired by the Finnish label Darklands Records, consisting of two tracks by Advanced Art and other two by the Finnish goth-rock band Two Witches. In chronological order we find now the 7″ split-Extended Play “From Nothing To Nothing / Steel” of 1989, also published by Darklands Records and, as the previous relaese, it includes two songs by Advanced Art and two by Two Witches. It followed in 1990 the 12″ mini-album entitled “Clandestine – A Collection Of Seven Pop Songs By Advanced Art”, a self-realization on cassette of seven tracks, succeed by the complementary tape-sampler of five tracks “Clandestine (Mis) Take Two” dated 1991. The next agreement of the band with the Finnish label Poko Rekords, which took place in the same 1991, generated the four-songs 12″-vinyl “Scar”, before the other four ones of the Maxi-single “Time” dated 1992 and licensed again by Poko Rekords, the same home which in the year 1993 also published the next album “Product” of ten tracks. In the year 1994 it followed “Force”, the full-length edited by Poko Rekords, subdivided in turn in three paragraphs for a total of nine songs. The split-compilation “Into The Darklands – Early Years 1987-1989” was published in 1995 by the German brand VUZ Records: in its tracklist Advanced Art alternated six songs with the six ones of the project Two Witches. There was a long, silent time frame of twenty years, during which the band mered to place their songs into various compilations, some of them of considerable entity, as “Crash: A Tribute To James Graham Ballard”, published in 1993 for the Greek brand Elfish, “Elektrauma” of 1994 licensed by the German label Discordia, or also “We Control You – Control Records Label Sampler”, promoted in 1998 by the label founded by Vince called Control Records. The current year 2015 was highlighted by two major celebrative events dedicated to Advanced Art: the first one, “Darkhive ( The Tape And Vinyl Years )” is a compilation fired from the Canadian label Artoffact Records, while the second one consists of this double super-anthology now reviewed by Vox Empirea, “Archive”, published by the famous Italian label EK Product for commemorate the thirty years elapsed from the band’s foundation. This titanic production select exclusively the best records from the Advanced Art’s repertoire, with a potential of thirty-seven tracks intelligently allocated into two CD’s: the first of them is “Forward” which contains seventeen tracks released between 1991 and 1998, while the second one is called “Backward” with its twenty paragraphs, including demos, remixes and rare-songs, inserted chronologically back in time into the title-track starting from 1995 to 1987. The first volume of the compilation opens with three episodes taken from the 12″ “Scar”, in order the ultra-danceable electro / EBM “From Nothing To Nothing”, mechanically carved by dried uptempo drum-programming beats, vocalized with robotic coldness and backlit by shadowed keyboards, all followed by the rigorous midtempo drumming that animate the squared musicality of “Wake Up”, an electro / EBM dancefloor in which the obscure Jana’s chant meets the austere flows of synths and the seductive whispers of the second-vocalist Reeta, while into the subsequent “Tear Open These Scars” its disciplined drum-programming and the artificial melodies of keyboard finalize vigorous electro / EBM trajectories for techno-dancers, enhanced by schematic male vocals and by the female singing complements of Reeta. The next two tracks come from the Maxi-single “Time”: the first of them, entitled “Some Time”, is a dark electro / industrial / EBM built through hammering midtempo bpm’s, harsh-low vocals and through shady counterpoints of synth, sounds anticipatory the following “Anthem 26”, an entirely instrumental track, which sullen introduction amplifies its suggestive power, becoming a threatening, martial orchestration erected on the dark, symphonic minimalism of two keyboards. Five songs extracted from the album “Product” continue the tracklist, beginning from the Depeche Mode-oriented electro / synthpop procedures of “No Future”, built by midtempo drum-programming scans in addition with cold automatic sequencing and with the inorganic emissions of keyboards, which combination supports the distant Jana’s voice. “‘Til I Beg For Mercy”, the second of the five extractions, energizes this electro / EBM / industrial making it extremely danceable, by solid midtempo drum-programming, authoritative vocals, linear sequenced fluctuations and by icy harmonies of synths, while into the subsequent electro / synthpop song “Scene One” the drum-machine fractionates geometrically disconnected midtempo impulses, creating the rhythmic support for atmospheric synths and for a sad singing, all this before the solid electro / EBM / synthpop of “Your Product”, a very danceable track in which the conjuncture among midtempo flagellants breakdowns, metallized contrails of keyboard and malevolent vocals, create an enthralling set of rhythmic aggression and feelings of hostility. The frantic percussiveness of “No Answers No Solutions” bursts with all its electro / EBM vitality, punctuating this song by symmetrical uptempo beats, together with a perfect harmony between severe vocals and exciting keyboards. “Lies”, the first of the next five songs included in the album “Force”, is a whippy electro / EBM based substantially on thrusts midtempo drum-programming, cutting sections of voice and leaden synths, as well as the electro / EBm acoustics of “Force Majeure” are forged through stern chords of keyboard, slow metronomic drum programming and through rigid vocalizations. Consecutively, we can hear the inciting midtempo drum-metrics that move the subsequent “Flesh”, an electro / industrial / EBM for dancefloors, where Jana amalgamates his chant with the percussive dynamism, crossing the vibrating waves of keyboard. Similarly, “Pretender (94 Mix)” is also a valid electro / industrial / EBM for techno-DJ’s, thanks to the synergy between catchy uptempo drumming and synth-patterns on which the singer puts his inflexible voice. “Life Before Death (Mix 94)” offers electro / synthpop euphonies full of melancholy, furrowed by robotic downtempo beats, depressed vocals and by torpid keyboard notes. The last two tracks on the CD-1 “Forward” are acquired from the compilation “We Control You – Control Records Label Sampler”: the first one, “Blind”, shows a compositional, qualitative and sonic level more evolved than the prior creations of Advanced Art, all in this electro / EBM track made of ‘very danceable’ midtempo percussiveness and compelling keyboard solutions. “Free World”, the final song, proposes a nervous electro / EBM, in which, during its refrain, the acrid voice of Jana intersects harmoniously the seductive chant of the additional-singer Veera, while the drum-programming draws logical midtempo rhythmics and the keyboards spread waves of pure melancholy. CD-2: in the second volume “Backward” we listen at first “I Am The Labyrinth (Remix)”, extracted from the 1995’s compilation “Plastic Sampler Vol.1”, published by the Finnish label Plastic Passion: the stimulant midtempo drum-programming, the intransigence of pads and the grim voice of Jana wrap this electro / EBM track so danceable and aggressive, as well as the subsequent “Mainio Seuramies”, included in the compilation “Toinen Käsittely”, released in 1995 by the Finnish records-brand Hiljaiset Levyt, predisposes an experimental, psychotic, dark-electro / industrial / EBM theorem, enunciated by the combination between the Jana’s singing, so unhealthily obsessive and cold, with the spectral filtered chorality erected by the additional-musician Yksi Ruusu: the result is an extraordinary sonic document to dance incessantly. The unreleased track “Some Time (94 Mix)” transmits darkness and mystery, through straight midtempo percussive maneuvers, nocturne synth extensions and through arcane vocalizations. The following two live-tracks were recorded at Tullikamari of Tampere in 1992: the first one, “Twisted”, is an electro / EBM hypnotically rhythmed by midtempo drum-impulses over which Jana expands glacial strophes, as well as “Wake Up” replicates stupendously its exciting electro / EBM sonorities described already in the studio-version, adding to them all the charm of live arrangements. The two subsequent episodes are demo-tapes dating back to the year 1991 contained in the sampler “Clandestine (Mis) Take Two”: here’s then the electro / EBM / synthpopish “‘Til I Beg For Mercy”, thickly sequenced, driven by midtempo propulsions, sung by remote voice and transfixed by a fleeble keyboard filaments. It follows “This Blue Moment”, nostalgically tormented, electronically obscure and danceable, elaborated by long phases of solemn keyboards and drumming downtempo, around which Jana and Reeta prolong their engrossed voices. “Kick” is a live track recorded in 1990 always at the Tullikamari of Tempere: its slim and fast electro / EBM framework is playied by uptempo impulses, hallucinated vocals and essential keyboard, in a whole of febrile sounds surprisingly similar in their instrumental / singing settings to those of Sigue Sigue Sputnik’s repertoire. Another example of electronic sound archeology’ is the next “Tear Open These Scars”, a track included in the demo-tape “Clandestine” of 1990: it incarnates unadorned the vocal Jana’s harmonies on a compact midtempo drum-programming and on fluids themes of synths. The following three tracks are instead live recordings that took place in 1989 at the Metal Party, Lönnström Warehouse of Rauma, Finland: we start with solid electro / synthpop / EBM musicality of “Veiling The Bass / Pretender”, in which the midtempo beating and the captivating melodic keyboard run after merging them with upset vocals, all awaiting the entry of “Blind Faith”, an electro / industrial track on which the martial, inflexible midtempo programmed rhythm is encompassed into a cloud of livid synth decorations and visionary vocals. The electro / EBM connotations of “N.V.A.” are edified through dry uptempo grooves, rapid sequencing and impetuous vocal hyphenations, for an aggregation of sounds and words that gives to this song a disruptive, savage seizure nature. The next four tracks are publications released in 7″ version: the first one is “Steel”, an algid electro / synthpop cadenced by regular downtempo drum-programming, darkened by sinister compartments of keyboard and made further atmospheric by the phlegmatic Jana’s vocalizations. The second episode is the 7″ transposition of “From Nothing To Nothing”, which nucleus differs from the opening-track on the CD-1 for a better sound quality and for a dissimilar but equally danceable percussive / vocal planning; the same consideration is repeatable also for this 7″ format of “No Answers No Solutions”, which rhythmic / vocal configuration, more organically strengthened than heard in the previous album-version, it enhances a greater agility and an high magnetism. The fourth 7″ on the list is the wonderful “Black Roses, an electro / synthpop song technologically gloomy, symbolizing more than ever the ingenious talent of Advanced Art, all this by the elegiac vocals of Jana, placed into a claustrophobic, alienating context of midtempo drum-programming and keyboards. “A Young Girl’s Diary”, a danceable, unreleased electro / EBM track called “Rehearsal Demo 1988”, is devised by concise uptempo drum-programming, bloodless synth melodies and by an apathetic chant. The next lugubrious electro /synthpop is a demo-track from 1987, “Graveyard”, surrounded by greyness and desolation, pushed obscurely by slow drum-programming and by sombre constructs of voice and keyboard. The last two tracks are included in the demo-tape “Abstract”: the first of them, “Hell In Paradise”, exhales an electro / synthpop climax heavily dejected and shadowy, activating elementary downtempo drum-programming, skeletal synth harmonies and an arid chant, full of sepulchral replications. The closing chapter of the long tracklist is the demo version of “Life Before Death”, structurally less complex but emotionally more intense than the ‘(94 Mix)’ heard on the CD-1: its lyrics, overflowing with sorrow, they caress the dark and melancholy surface of keyboards, dancing sinuously on downtempo drum-machine.

EK Product has realized a monumental, reasoned work, simply indispensable, in which the listener can retrace a crucial segment of the History of technological Music created by one of the more valid underground-bands from the 80’s / 90’s rearguard, which in two decades has been able to establish itself permanently and honorably in the alternative-electro panorama. “Archive” is a compendium of considerable stature, which summary of the most important discographical features of the Finnish project testifies exhaustively all the sagacity and the inspiration of Jana and Vince, two unforgettable explorers of the electronic front. Owning this double-compilation is categorically imperative for any true connoisseur and collector. The Advanced Art, after many years, hit and win. Once again.

IT Version

Advanced Art - Archive (2015)