The musical adventures of Jan Anderzén

Jan Anderzén is a name that pops up in key places when diving headfirst into some of the most memorable releases coming out of the Finnish scene during recent years. 

Kemialliset Ystävät, Tomutonttu, and Tuusanuuskat are among the most celebrated projects on Anderzén’s discography, but represent only a portion of the multidisciplinary artist’s prolific output. Lately, he has been working on a new visual arts project which was premiered in October in Turku. 

“The exhibition called ‘Siipi Empii’ (‘A Wing Hesitates’) is a collection of works from the past year, and I’m really looking forward to seeing the pieces together”, Anderzén says.

There’s new music in the works, as well. Kemialliset Ystävät is preparing their next album, almost ready at the time of writing. Curiously, there’s a “nude version” of the album, as well, explains Andérzen: “It’s a mix which is stripped down to some sounds you wouldn’t pay that much attention to normally. I was about to present that version of the album at the Turku exhibition but decided to save it for my personal use, instead.”

Listening to Anderzén’s music, it’s no wonder he pays this kind of attention to detail, eager to highlight what some others would merely leave within the mix. Tomutonttu’s sound collages are rich in nuances, making a beautiful and groovy sonic mosaic out of a wide variety of sounds. Tomutonttu’s latest releases are Kevätjuhlat, an LP on UK’s Alter Records, and the tape release Trarat released by the Los Angeles based Leaving Records, the label which will also release the upcoming Kemialliset Ystävät album.

The return of Tuusanuuskat

Tuusanuuskat is a duo with Fonal Records’ head honcho Sami Sänpäkkilä. Their recent tape release Toiminnan aattona (“On the eve of action”) is a groovy, loopy affair; melodic, rhythmic and approachable in comparison to the duo’s debut LP Nääksää nää mun kyyneleet (“Can you see these tears of mine”) in 2011. The tracks flow with an undeniable dynamic force, adding layers and sounds such as the saxophone and seemingly non-language “rap” vocals in the mix. For many a music fan, it must have been a pleasant surprise to welcome a new release by the avantgarde super duo, six years after the initial contact. 

“Tuusanuuskat moves with the speed of a turtle”, comments Anderzén. 

I started working with collage techniques, sampling, borrowing sounds, and imitating what I had heard.

One thing, which seems to connect Anderzén’s various musical adventures together is the natural feel of all the different sounds coming together, often displaying a deep sense of coherence found in combinations, which might seem random at first listen. 

“For me it was natural to extend my music listening habits into making music of my own. I started working with collage techniques, sampling, borrowing sounds, and imitating what I had heard. The idea of a studio as an instrument has been essential for me from the get-go.” 

The importance of local scenes

A product of the DIY ethos, releasing his music was a logical step, rather than a giant leap for Jan Anderzén. He describes the process of releasing music as a driving force in the very process of creation itself. 

“To be part of some kind of network to share the new music is very important. These connections work well outside of the framework of countries, so when I first joined the international network of underground music, it was not yet as easy as it would be after the internet sparked up the communication between artists. Suddenly it was easier to plan tours, and I have travelled thanks to those connections, as well, albeit not so much lately.” 

Anderzén comments that his focus is now more on the local scenes, rather than globe-trotting with his projects who have garnered enthusiastic worldwide following, and fans such as legendary musician and underground music aficionado Henry Rollins. 

“Right now I would be interested in starting a club, which would involve listening to records and discussing them, plus eating together”, he says. 

Kemialliset Ystävät and sources of inspiration

Before that, the Kemialliset Ystävät LP needs some more work. Listeners will be curious to find out what direction the music will take after the 2014 masterpiece Alas rattoisaa virtaa (“Down the Enjoyable Stream”). 

“Kemialliset Ystävät works in sprints between which the breaks might be quite long”, Anderzén explains. “My friends taking part in the project live in various different places and this creates a working method, which also allows for my ears to rest in between sessions. That means that the end result will be something, which I hadn’t planned initially, and that is a great thing. Kemialliset Ystävät does not have a live band at the moment, but I recently worked with defunensemble on a live project, and it would be awesome to get together with musicians such as them in the studio, as well.” 

While we eagerly wait for the results, it’s good to check in on Anderzén’s current sources of insipration. A list follows: 

Vladimir Nabokov’s descriptions of his entomologist endeavours, and the life of insects in general. The library system. Fabrics, rugs, glass. Camouflage patterns and the art of disguising. A book I just read: ‘The Radiance of the King’ by Camara Laye. 1980’s Italian minimalism. Being kind. Free VST plugins. “Lomonisovin moottori” by Antti Salminen. The book “Life Is a Rip Off” by John Olson, where he reviews one album per day for a year. The “Expanding Mind” podcasts. Frans de Waal’s book “Bonobo and the Atheist”. The music of Ahnnu and David Behrman. And as always, Alice Coltrane.

Find Tuusanuuskat and Tomutonttu on our New Experimental Music from Finland playlist.