by Sean
Please note: MP3s are only kept online for a short time, and if this entry is from more than a couple of weeks ago, the music probably won't be available to download any more.


[this is the third in a continuing series, exploring the music i discovered when travelling in europe last fall]

We flew from Dublin, via London, to Tampere, Finland. "Manse" is Tampere's nickname - it's the country's Manchester. Tampere is concrete and grey, but like all of Finland (at least the little bit I saw), the space gives everything a feeling of freedom, of life.

Later we went to Helsinki, where boats sat like contented hens in the bay. Parks line the boulevards, with strange and evocative statues - Sibelius, communism, swans.

Between the two cities we took the ultra high-tech high-speed train. And I watched as tall, tall trees spinned past my window, like the stoic older cousins of the familiar Ontario and Quebec landscape. There were knotted forests, fading to blue in the distance.

The CD I bought in Finland is by an avant folk group called Kemialliset Ystävät. I went to a record shop in Tampere and picked albums based entirely on their art. Then I listened. And Alkuhärkä won.

It's a difficult record. From Panda Bear to Black Dice, this sort of psychfolk needs a certain state of mind to take seriously - just what the psych implies. (I've never understood why acts like Devendra Banhart or Joanna Newsom are given the same label. The differences are really, really clear.) Instruments blend and circle, half-melodies worming out of the soil, receding into it.

Kemialliset Ystävät - "Kiimaniityn Kutsu"
Kemialliset Ystävät - "Kamelin Hikeä"

For me, listening to Kemialliset Ystävät becomes an exercise in fictional ethnography. I don't just imagine the music, the manifestation of the synths, piano, strings, and drone, I imagine a culture that might have produced it. I try to situate the sounds in those tall, leafless trees, down the empty, wide and blowing city streets. It's the sound of the electric cables that run through the woods, and of the people who live in huts under them.

Read more about the record at Fake Jazz.

Elsewhere -

the legend is true: Montreal's grand, big, glowing cross turns purple when the Pope dies. I think it's beautiful that such an enormous monument is on a slow-time, half-century calendar, flickering briefly into a different, ghostly state. I wish I was there to see it.

Unreleased Sam Beam (iron & wine) at buked and scorned.

ftrain updates: the death of a cat. beautiful, very sad.

(main photo taken in the sculpture garden at Tampere's Sara Hilden Art Museum.

Posted by Sean at April 4, 2005 8:44 AM

Kemialliset Ystävät have been making some of the best music around for a few years now. It's good to see them getting some mp3-blog love.

Posted by ryan at April 4, 2005 3:30 PM

why is it a fictional ethnography?

Posted by Anonymous at April 4, 2005 8:55 PM

Wow, this music is really sick. Thanks

Posted by erojas at April 4, 2005 10:37 PM

anonymous -

It's "fictional" for the same reason that a fantasy novel is distinct from 'non-fiction', as constructed as they both may be. Kemialliset Ystävät seem to me to be making self-consciously "fictional" music, imitating, evoking and bending the typical sound of ethnographic music, field recordings, etc.

Posted by Sean at April 5, 2005 8:35 AM

Post a comment

(Please be patient, it can be slow.)
about said the gramophone
This is a daily sampler of really good songs. All tracks are posted out of love. Please go out and buy the records.

To hear a song in your browser, click the and it will begin playing. All songs are also available to download: just right-click the link and choose 'Save as...'

All songs are removed within a few weeks of posting.

Said the Gramophone launched in March 2003, and added songs in November of that year. It was one of the world's first mp3blogs.

If you would like to say hello, find out our mailing addresses or invite us to shows, please get in touch:
Montreal, Canada: Sean
Toronto, Canada: Emma
Montreal, Canada: Jeff
Montreal, Canada: Mitz

Please don't send us emails with tons of huge attachments; if emailing a bunch of mp3s etc, send us a link to download them. We are not interested in streaming widgets like soundcloud: Said the Gramophone posts are always accompanied by MP3s.

If you are the copyright holder of any song posted here, please contact us if you would like the song taken down early. Please do not direct link to any of these tracks. Please love and wonder.

"And I shall watch the ferry-boats / and they'll get high on a bluer ocean / against tomorrow's sky / and I will never grow so old again."
about the authors
Sean Michaels is the founder of Said the Gramophone. He is a writer, critic and author of the theremin novel Us Conductors. Follow him on Twitter or reach him by email here. Click here to browse his posts.

Emma Healey writes poems and essays in Toronto. She joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. This is her website and email her here.

Jeff Miller is a Montreal-based writer and zinemaker. He is the author of Ghost Pine: All Stories True and a bunch of other stories. He joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. Say hello on Twitter or email.

Mitz Takahashi is originally from Osaka, Japan who now lives and works as a furniture designer/maker in Montreal. English is not his first language so please forgive his glamour grammar mistakes. He is trying. He joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. Reach him by email here.

Site design and header typography by Neale McDavitt-Van Fleet. The header graphic is randomized: this one is by Neale McDavitt-Van Fleet.
Dan Beirne wrote regularly for Said the Gramophone from August 2004 to December 2014. He is an actor and writer living in Toronto. Any claim he makes about his life on here is probably untrue. Click here to browse his posts. Email him here.

Jordan Himelfarb wrote for Said the Gramophone from November 2004 to March 2012. He lives in Toronto. He is an opinion editor at the Toronto Star. Click here to browse his posts. Email him here.
our patrons
Said the Gramophone does not take advertising. We are supported by the incredible generosity of our readers. These were our donors in 2013.
watch StG's wonderful video contest winners

our favourite blogs
(◊ means they write about music)

Back to the World
La Blogothèque
Weird Canada
Destination: Out
Endless Banquet
A Grammar (Nitsuh Abebe)
Ill Doctrine
A London Salmagundi
Words and Music
Petites planétes
Gorilla vs Bear
Silent Shout
Clouds of Evil
The Dolby Apposition
Awesome Tapes from Africa
Matana Roberts
Pitchfork Reviews Reviews
i like you [podcast]
Nicola Meighan
radiolab [podcast]
CKUT Music
plethoric pundrigrions
Wattled Smoky Honeyeater
The Clear-Minded Creative
Torture Garden
Passion of the Weiss
Juan and Only
Horses Think
White Hotel
Then Play Long (Marcello Carlin)
Uno Moralez
Coming Up For Air (Matt Forsythe)
my love for you is a stampede of horses
It's Nice That
Song, by Toad
In Focus
WTF [podcast]
The Rest is Noise (Alex Ross)
My Daguerreotype Boyfriend
The Hood Internet

things we like in Montreal
st-viateur bagel
café olimpico
Euro-Deli Batory
le pick up
kem coba
le couteau
au pied de cochon
mamie clafoutis
tourtière australienne
chez boris
alati caserta
vices & versa
+ paltoquet, cocoa locale, idée fixe, patati patata, the sparrow, pho tay ho, qin hua dumplings, caffé italia, hung phat banh mi, caffé san simeon, meu-meu, pho lien, romodos, patisserie guillaume, patisserie rhubarbe, kazu, lallouz, maison du nord, cuisine szechuan &c

drawn + quarterly
+ bottines &c

casa + sala + the hotel
blue skies turn black
montreal improv theatre
passovah productions
le cagibi
cinema du parc
pop pmontreal
yoga teacher Thea Metcalfe

Cult Montreal
The Believer
The Morning News
The Skinny