Ultra Bra 
Saturday, 29 .April, 2006, 10:54 - English Entries, Finland, Music
Wikipedia.en: Ultra Bra

Whoever lives in Finland in these days will stumble over Ultra Bra sooner or later. "Bra" means "good" in Swedish language, so Ultra Bra is something "really good", if you talk Swedish. If you talk English then this of course might have a different meaning. Anyways "Ultra Bra" is the name of a famous Finnish band, that unfortunately does not exist anymore.

I first read about them on Wikipedia, most likely whilst I was following some links from the Finish Green Party (Vihreä Liitto), of which Anni Sinnemäki was a member of the band and wrote some of the lyrics. Later on I got to listen to most of their songs from the CDs of my girl friend.

The band – who only sang in Finish language – consisted of over a dozen members and existed from 1994 to 2001. During that time it gained huge popularity not only amongst the younger generation of Finns. I'm quite sure that you can ask nearly any Finnish person today about Ultra Bra – he or she will smile and shortly after start humming one of their songs. If you put some drinks to the conversation you can even hear the person sing for the rest of the evening. They are still famous, but never became known outside of Finland.

Ultra Bras music is hard to classify. Some songs are rock, others jazz, some sound like made by a big band and then the next track reminds you of a children song (such as "Hei hoi hauki"). It's best to not think in categories here, but to let them just be Finnish. Although most of the songs are lively, there are some that express a beautiful melancholy, giving a clue of the autumn and winter side of Finnish mentality. The female and male voices go perfectly together and carry one with them.

Whilst looking for more material on Ultra Bra on the web, I found the website of the Finnish Nook where's a subsection dedicated to the band, which includes not only lots of information and pictures, but also all Ultra Bra lyrics in Finnish and even translated to English. A wonderful resource, from which one can get an impression of the big variety of issues the band sang about.

Besides love songs and unobtrusive hymns about life in Finland, they expressed very clear political views for example in their songs "Ken Sauru-Wiwa is dead" or "When I was eight years old". They drift into surreal picutres, describe a boring day or talk about the longing to journey the world. And when they sing for example "voi uhmata hurjaa heppaa" in their song "Heppa", the sound of Finish language becomes part of the artwork.

My favourite song of them is Minä suojelen sinua kaikelta ("I'll protect you from everything"). The song grows from soft and gentle towards a crescendo that sounds like a hymn, never losing it's simplicity on the way. It is just wonderful, like the first rays of the summer sun stretching over the horizon.

I also found a video of their song "Villiviini" (Wild Wine) at YouTube. This little movie shows so many typical and good things of Finland and the feeling of living here, it is just as amazing as the whole band.

» English Ultra Bra Pages (with translated lyrics)
» The Finnish Nook
» Ultra Bra at English Wikipedia

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Toctronic: Pure Reason Must Never Prevail (Pure Vernunft darf niemals siegen)  
Saturday, 22 .April, 2006, 21:54 - English Entries, Music

Tocotronic - Picture taken from Wikipedia Sometimes it is not easy to be 35 years old and still be blindly fascinated by rock music, unable to criticize it and even forgiving the most stupid songs by saying that they are down-to-earth and beautiful in their simplicity. Under the influence of rolling drums and roaring electric guitars the lack of poetry and content becomes sometimes irrelevant.

But then again, it is not that bad at all and during the last years even some German bands found ways to combine music and message to popular songs. One of these groups is "Tocotronic", who's around already since 1993. The first song I heard from them was "Die Welt kann mich nicht mehr verstehn" (The world cannot understand me anymore), a plain punk-rock song. Some of their songs bombastic and loud, others are of a meditative slowness. Their songs have titles like "The idea is good, but the world isn't read yet", "I want to be part of a youth movement" and "I wish I would be interested in Tennis" and most of their lyrics are suggestive, not to say surreal.

Their latest album was released in 2005 and is entitled "Pure Vernunft darf niemals siegen" (Pure reason must never prevail). The title song of this album is masterpiece, it sounds like a credo, is full of metaphors and nonetheless every line is a statement which can be unambiguously understood. I love this song, it makes me feel like in the very early 80s, when I switched my radio to the only rock channel that existed at that time and after five minutes knew that some noisy boys and girls had understood me better than I have had myself up till then.

So I sat down and translated the text – the translation is not perfect and you can blame me for every incorrectness. Read it, listen to the song, watch the video. Enjoy!

Pure reason must never prevail

Pure reason must never prevail
We urgently need new lies
Which guide us through the universe,
And which prepare us the feast of the world ,
Which enforce the delirium
And which sing us into sweet slumber,
Which warn us of blunt truth,
And which have mercy with deep pain,
Which rock us in bamboo-cradles
Pure reason must never prevail

La la la la la

Pure reason must never prevail
We urgently need new lies
Which show us the treasure of lunacy
And afterwards bow before us
Which crown us to kings
Just to secretly mock us
Which sizzle in our ears
And wish over our eyes
Which make war against those who want to help us
Pure reason must never prevail

La la la la la

Pure reason must never prevail
We urgently need new lies
Which preserve our beauty for us
But which divide us deep within ourselves
In fact which fragment us
And afterwards gently touch us
And guide us into the dark
And obey to our will
And bend us like soft fences
Pure reason must never prevail

La la la la la

We are so light that we fly
We are so light that we fly
We are so light that we fly
We are so light that we fly

» German text of this song
» Video of this song

» Tocotronic Homepage (in German)
» Tocotronic in English Wikipedia
» Tocotronic in German Wikipedia

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My Easter Present to You: Sex and Drugs and Rock'n'Roll 
Thursday, 13 .April, 2006, 20:36 - English Entries, Movies, Music, Online/Blogs

Most of you know this video (which I found here) anyhow already – it is my Easter present to my readers. The song was written by Burt Bacharach, who wrote many lovely songs and is sung here by the White Stripes, a band that fascinates me since I heared them for the first time. The video was directed by Sofia Coppola, who directed The Virigin Suicides and Lost in Translation - two beautiful movies. The girl dancing is Kate Moss, I hope you know enough good things about her, so that I do not have to introduce her.

I wish you all happy Easter, in which ever you are going to spend it. I am off to Hanko.
Cheers! Georg

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Some music for the audience 
Wednesday, 29 .March, 2006, 23:02 - English Entries, Music

These days I am listening to a lot of music and digged out some (meanwhile already "older") albums, which never became really famous, which is regrettable. I dare to comment on three of them, three very different ones, so maybe there is something for every taste.

Amazon: Touch and Go - I find you very attractiveMost likely you remember the song "Would you ...", that was a big hit some years ago and is played nowadays every now and then on radio. Rhythmic and catchy – trumpet and drums make the sound whilst a womans voice pretends several times "I noticed you around - I find you very attractive" before she asks "Would you go to bed with me?" The song is special foremost due the trumpet and I think you need to have a lot of valium in your system to not move at least one food to this music.

What can one expect from the album of a band, that played such a summer hit? Chances are high that such a CD might turn out to be a disappointing investment. I can only recommend the album "I find you very attractive" from "Touch and Go". The music - often dominated by trumpets or saxophone - is fresh and uses latino-style in a way that even I can stand them. In most of the songs, the lyrics are cheeky and easy, just the right thing to fade out from a working day.

The second half the album gets into a slower mood. Of these songs "Life's a beach" and the alterntive version of "Straight to number one" are the most beautiful ones, long stretched and completly relaxed.

I am for sure no friend of latino music, but this album always works as an easy-listening introduction to the hopefully upcoming summer.

Amazon: Transvision Vamp: Pop Art Transvision Vamps "Pop Art" flies in like a spaceship into a night of dark fate. An electronic voice tells us all the development the flower power generation has gone through: "From Easy Rider to Star Wars / From Che Guevara to Laurie Anderson / From Light Shows to Videos / From LSD to MTV / ...". Seconds after it is all punk-gone-pop: guitars, drums and the in no way innocent voice of a girl, singing about "trash city", a location one immediately starts to love. Try the next song - it is not any better. "I don't want your money honey - I want your love". How could I ever forget that even in the late 80s life was sometimes plain simple and easy to enjoy.

You don't need to see Wendy James, her voice and style is enough to just fall for her. It's all wild, loud, nasty and of course sexy, why else would you listen to it? There are also slow and atmospheric songs, such as "Sister Moon" and "Hanging out with Halo Jones", in which Wendy tries to stay nice, but she does not really manage.

Truth is, she is best in songs like "Psychosonic Cindy" and "Tell that girl to shut up", in which lyrics and sound are perfectly combined to a driving force that makes you greatful for the repeat function on your CD player.

Transvision Vamp did two more albums, of which I only know "Velveteen", which is also very good, but does not reach the raging heights of "Pop Art".

Amazon: Joan Osborne - Relish And finally Joan Osborne, coming obviously from the folk-rock tradition, with a voice that goes in an instant from crystal clear to rough undertones. Her album "Relish" (1995) is a milestone, but unfortunately also she was not able to deliver anything similar anymore in her whole carrer. Relish includes her song "One of us" that was famous in 1995, a slow, tragic tune asking questions about God. It is a good song, but after listening to the record again and again it becomes the weakest of the compilation.

Osborne is manifold, she interprets Dylans "Man in a long black coat" in a version that sends shivers down my back and few songs later on "Spider Web" she goes all rhythm and grooves about Ray Charles, who got his eyesight back and nowadays stays in bed with MTV. Her voice and the music work perfectly together, none tries to dominate the scene and they make unique works out of the softer tunes, such as "Let's just get naked" and "Crazy Baby" as well as the rolling rock songs, like "ladder" and "right hand man".

"Relish" could have been the beginning of a great career for Joan Osborne, who also wrote most of the songs on her own. Her later album "Righteous Love" is in no way comparable to "Relish", it seems that she changed everything that worked so well on her debut.

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The Cardigans in concert - Tavastia, Helsinki - Friday, 17th March 2006 
Saturday, 18 .March, 2006, 20:08 - English Entries, Music, Photographs

Every mythology, every god has a reason why it was invented. When seeing the Cardigans, one understands the legends about the Norse Goddesses. Nina Persson emanates seriousness and power from her first step on the stage and whatever she does from that moment on is right and puts the spectators in the state of pure admiration. Nina can laugh, make jokes, she can jump around and cry into the microphone, at no moment does she lose any part of her radiation. You see her and you know she's great and you do not doubt that until she is gone.

Up till the concert I only knew their album "Gran Tourismo", which I liked from the first moment. Somehow I did not believe that they would be capable of doing such a atmospheric album again, so I resisted from getting the later ones. That was clearly a mistake and they proved me wrong during the concert. They mix Rock and Pop into a sound that rushes up your blood.

And then of course the lyrics. I don't know what they give the Swedish girls to eat, but they are able to write down even darkest incidents in their lifes in clear words without exaggerating or being pretentious at any moment.

But music and words and show mean nothing when little Nina raises her hand straight up and everybody just gazes and is willing to accept any of her words as the pure and only truth. Here comes the light, the sound, the woman and the power. It may have been Peter Gabriel, whom I saw in 1992 or so, who made a similar impression to me. It's rare. But it does exist.

To see all the pictures of this concert, click here. To start the pictures as a slideshow, click here.

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