Monday, January 2, 2017

MMXVI

Dear blogger,

I choose to disregard the fact that 2016 was the first year in the 9-year-existence of this blog that I made no posts whatsoever. Instead, I would like to dive into what I did actually do and accomplish during the 12-month-era that now has become nothing short of a recollection. For despite the global tragedies, fear and low spirits, it was probably the happiest year of my entire existence.


January to March: The Heart Of A Cold White Land

In the first quarter of the year, I expected replies from publishing houses after sending them my debut poetry collection in November of 2015. The responses were negative one after the other, with the exception of one small publisher who already at the end of 2015 offered to print the book had I been brave enough to put a significant amount of my own money into the project, which after careful consideration I decided not to do. Coincidentally, as the new year tends to affect people, I pursued other forms of substance to fill my life with, including several culture-related pursuits, which well illustrate parts of my year afterwards. My studies began to take a bit more time than in the fall at this point, but my relationship, becoming ever-deeper and smoother, kept things balanced. I delved sparsely but meaningfully in my surroundings, switching grocery stores (an important change as anyone familiar with student finances and schedules, as well as making attributions to even the most seemingly unimportant places will know), going to Lahti for an evening, and getting familiar with a new area of my hometown where I helped my girlfriend settle in.

The year got off to a big start in the literature department, with 12 books finished in as many weeks. As most of the books I consumed throughout the year, these were classics for analysis purposes as part of my university degree. The novels were nothing special, with Stendhal's The Red and The Black and Goethe's Elective Affinities being slight disappointments even. At the same time, I read two exciting plays: the original manuscript of Jokela's Mobile Horror was just as amusing as the movie I had seen in 2015, and the Hamlet-esque Daniel Hjort by Wecksell was a pleasant surprise. After having my introduction to Kafka with The Trial in 2015, the short story The Metamorphosis continued to spark my interest in his dark and reflective works, with Maupassant's similarly psychological and self-loathing short The Horla pleasing me as well. The poetry collection Puut, kaikki heidän vihreytensä by Haavikko, a Finnish classic, awoke an ambivalent but mostly positive reaction.

Similar to books, with movies I had a peak at the very beginning of the year, as between January and March I saw 16 out of the 44 previously unknown movies that I experienced during the whole year. The mysterious and thus engaging Donnie Darko and Dark City were the clear highlights, both making it high in my all-time list with ease. The realistic relationship drama Last Night was also an enjoyable watch in the winter season.

In terms of music, January was reigned by the Finnish gothic death doom metal band Swallow The Sun. I got to see them live together with LIK and Hanging Garden (who was nearly as astonishing as the main act) on the 22nd in the Finlandia-klubi in Lahti. I also acquired their near-majestic debut CD The Morning Never Came soon after, having wanted it for a long time. The crown then passed over to Maj Karma. I bought the much underrated full-length Salama, and together with the not-so-impressive 2016 follow-up Peltisydän that still garnered several great songs, it made the soundtrack for my February. A sort of culmination to this came again with seeing the band pull off an unpredictable and energetic live show in my hometown on the 12th of March. Moving on through the personally over-hyped yet still purchase-worthy Hacktivist debut album Outside the Box, I made several discoveries again in the gothic and doom-y vein with Tribulation's Children of the Night (a fantastic record to have in the background while writing or brainstorming, I found), Lacuna Coil's In A Reverie, Rapture's Futile and last but certainly not least, Red Moon Architect's Fall, a must-have right from the first listen that indeed made its way to my shelf only 2 weeks after initial exposure.


April to June: The Seconds Syndrome

The spring was, paradoxically, a moment of stagnation for me this year. This was mostly due to the growing demands of my studies, as well as a series of disappointing experiences. The period was not necessarily something worth to complain about, just something less to talk about. This became invalid in June, when me and my girlfriend began to search for a mutual apartment and found it fast, yet still in a time period that must have been one of the most stressful in my whole life due to the anxiety caused by unpredictable phone calls, formality-filled meetings and responsibility especially associated with decision-making. Eventually, we got the apartment we wanted with very minor things left to speculate, and it was a great feeling to realize that such a wonderful thing would happen, albeit still causing nostalgia for the abandon of the place that had been all my own for two years. Finally, while the hopes of my poetry being published any time soon vanished, I took part in a writing contest and won, with the prize of having my personal text on Brave Murder Day by Katatonia published in Finland's to-go-to metal magazine, Inferno.

Although I discovered what is now my favourite poetry collection, Rekola's Minä rakastan sinua, minä kerron sen kaikille on the very first day of April, the rest of the three-month-period was not as fruitful. I still finished a fair amount of books (8), but only Boule de Suif - my second Maupassant short story that turned out to be even better than the first one - as well as the theoretical but still belletristic De Beauvoir classic The Second Sex were truly charming besides the beautiful laconism of Rekola.

Amongst the ridiculously little amount of movies I saw, the two I went to the theater to see with my girlfriend (thanks again to the two friends who gave us gift cards for Christmas) were the standout experiences, despite the fact that the latter, London Has Fallen, was quite poor. The other one, 2 yötä aamuun, was instead a perfect choice and one of the best movies I saw year-wide. Seeing the great movie Her with, well, her at my parents' house during the Midsummer weekend was also special.

This era was also possibly the biggest letdown I've felt in terms of anticipated releases. While Gore by Deftones was still a very good album, just plain average as a whole on the unfairly holy standards I've set for my favourite band, Magma by Gojira was a rollercoaster in terms of quality, and The Fall of Hearts by Katatonia remained a stale stray into clinical prog except for the sparkle of Serein. Ironically, it was with possibly my least favourite Katatonia album that I won a T-shirt through Record Store X, bearing the album theme. Furtheremore, I attended zero shows after March up until July. The positives are hence attributed to the growth of my CD collection, with long-delayed purchases of decent turn-of-the-millenium albums such as Freakshow by Silverchair alongside the joy of acquiring Pandemonium and Killing Joke (2003) by Killing Joke as well as Seventeen Seconds by The Cure. The latter two bands, both British and from the '80s, were ones I spent a lot of my year listening to in general. As an evidence of this, the spring did also lead me to discover the rather endearing pop albums The Head on the Door and Japanese Whispers by the latter.


July to September: Walking With Gods

As summer came, so did many a rush. The moving in to the new apartment commenced in mid-July and during the last week of the month we began to settle in. Psychologically, I didn't find myself yearning for the old at all, and found it easy to get cozy in the new home. The more concrete adjustments were the ones that took time and energy, especially because at the same time I was struggling to finalize my last course of the academic year, an unnecessarily perfectionistic and lonesome project that spread across the whole of July and August, leaving me no other choice but to have a break after it was done while everyone else already answered to the responsibilities of the new semester. While this had led to many future uncertainties even after resuming my university studies, I don't regret the holiday one bit, and at the very least, the course that took so long taught me to never do it again, while proving to be a stellar paper that boosted my confidence and forced me to make inspiring analyses despite the efficiency issues. I also cannot claim that I wouldn't have been able to vacation at all before September; it was just more scattered on days and weekends that would have been my only true breaks in the case of having a summer job anyway. All the while it was wonderful to occasionally go to festivals, shops, walks and to my parents' place, albeit once to attend the funeral of my grandfather, who shall rest in peace.

Despite the slight panic the summer was met in terms of studying, I didn't have to go through a single lackluster book, which made up for the small amount. Out of the four novels, the sincere yet semi-complex Beloved by Toni Morrison was the one with the most profound impact, while Mrs. Dalloway by Woolf, Season of Anomy by Soyinka and In the Labyrinth by Robbe-Grillet were less accomplished but still admirable efforts. After entering my holiday, the compilation by Lars Bugge (Konspirationsteorier - 40 populære sammensværgelser) fed my recharged hunger for conspiracy theories well.

While I didn't see that many movies over the summer either, I did enjoy them much more than in the spring. The Perks of Being a Wallflower served as a nice lead-in to the Tuska weekend. Next The Truman Show truly stole the show and had a profound impact. Cobain: Montage of Heck was the first movie experienced in the new apartment, and while biased, still an intriguing look into the life of Kurt Cobain. For my girlfriend's birthday, we went to see Nerve in the theater, which was a relaxing yet thrilling watch considering the low expectations. 

Ahead of the much-anticipated The Cure concert we were to attend in October, I finally took the opportunity in August and September to check the few albums I still had yet to hear from the band, and purchased the familiar friend Faith into my CD collection. Other acquirements were scarce, but focused. Killing Joke became the phenomenon of the summer as I dove into their discography and fell for the band's mesmerizing work more by every album, eventually buying the recent grower Hosannas from the Basements of Hell and the freshly-adored Democracy. Besides these, the buying of old semi-favourites continued through the coincidental Killjoy by Shihad. Apart from The Cure and Killing Joke, it was the shows of the season that influenced my listening habits. First there was the Tuska festival on the 3rd of July, to which I got to go to thanks to my win in the Inferno writing contest. A near-spiritual show by Gojira and a warm-hearted set by Katatonia were preceded by a signing session with the latter, where in addition to having my copy of Brave Murder Day signed by Jonas and Anders, me and my girlfriend got to give them a small gift that was well-received by the looks of it. Only two weeks later on July 17th, I felt like a little child when caught by surprise by a similar signing session at the Ilosaarirock festival including Paradise Lost. This time it was Aaron Aedy's hand I got to shake after a wonderful show, preceded by my second Maj Karma sighting of the year, one that was probably even better than the first. On September 29th, the fanboyism continued furthermore at the album release party by Eilera, who after I myself bought a shirt of hers from the merch stand not only performed an entirely fresh album (Face Your Demons) to me and my girlfriend's delight at the Semifinal in Helsinki, also met us after the show, signing my copy of Fusion accompanied with smiles and nice words back and forth. It was a lot of travelling to go to each destination, but they were all more than worth it.


October to December: Precious Moments (From Darkest Skies)

The end of the year was a renaissance. The holiday I started in September truly rejuvenated me, and I got to flesh out my several sketches for novels as well as refine my second album Romanticism while embracing the time and space around me. Thus lingering in the colours of foliage was coupled with a musical collaboration for yet another contest, this time asking for a song fusing occultism and eroticism and resulting in a quickly executed piece called Agnes that did not win but was nevertheless an intriguing lesson to make. I returned to my studies in November with a newborn grasp on my priorities and time management, and my work felt meaningful again from the get-go. This leads us to the biggest achievement of the entire year, which was being accepted to regularly write album reviews for Inferno based on a free form application. Even if there's basically no pay per se, I am so happy to work on this particular medium, which was a dream of mine for some time already and something I meant to pursue much earlier. It has already given me a lot through getting familiar with new music and the process of writing, and it's all just starting.

After the struggle of the late summer, I wished to take it more easy with reading and not pressure myself too much. Eventually, I did end up reading 5 books in the last quarter of the year, out of which the short story collection Vesiseinä by Valtonen was a remarkably inspiring and enjoyable experience, making him currently my favourite author, even if I've only read two out of the four fictitious books he's released. Another short story collection, the socio-political Noitametsä by Schildt, was despite analytical purposes the opposite of a dull read.

In the fall I watched 15 movies, with highlights falling into the middle of the season. They were the farce-esque black comedy Death at a Funeral, the well-executed and still topical drama classic American History X, the touching and beyond-F1-encompassing documentary Senna, the economically expressive animation Anomalisa and the romantic comedy gem When Harry Met Sally.

The first weekend of October is for sure something I will never forget, with double shows in Helsinki tied together by visits to my godmother's welcoming family in Loviisa. While both evenings had their blunder-y adventurous moments, seeing The Cure was unreal and even devastating, while my second Swallow the Sun show of the year, between two much less appealing acts during the same evening, was well worth the bother, the acoustic first half of the STS set making the heavy minutes that followed all the more physically and emotionally crushing. Soon after, My Dying Bride took over me for the rest of October, with one of the new familiarities, The Light at the End of the World, becoming an instant favourite and making it all the way into the top 20 albums of all-time list I compiled soon after for my 22nd birthday. There was an unintended sense of closure to the year with CD purchases such as Japanese Whispers and The Head on the Door by The Cure, Emerald Forest and the Blackbird by Swallow the Sun, MMXII by Killing Joke and both Face Your Demons as well as Precious Moment EP by Eilera, who we got to see for a second time as well, on the 24th of November at the On The Rocks venue in Helsinki. Just before, I got my second Katatonia fix in Lutakko on the 2nd of November, a show that made up for any bad blood and was a return to the sentiments of my first visit to Jyväskylä to see them almost exactly 4 years before, which was also the first show I had done with my girlfriend while we were still friends. The release of Metallica's Hardwired... to Self-Destruct caused a revisit to the band's past universe for the latter part of November. After this, the tail-end of the year was a celebration of 2016 releases including a large portion of albums I had missed, with my Inferno obligations leading me to discover the greatness of Dead End Finland's Slaves to the Greed, Alcest's Kodama and October Tide's Winged Waltz. Riverside's Eye of the Soundscape served as a great backdrop to some passion-filled moments throughout the fall, and was eventually the last CD I bought in 2016, while Christmas brought me two new band shirts, one of Drudkh I gave myself and another very special one by my girlfriend, with all the logos of my favourite bands present.


As always, I condensed my year in music to a playlist of 24 songs, which can be viewed here.
Also, for those who are interested, here's my Goodreads 2016 Reading challenge, including all the books I read during the year: https://www.goodreads.com/user_challenges/4750343.
My RYM profile shows a registry of the albums I heard and bought, as well as the movies that I saw: https://rateyourmusic.com/~WickedBreath.
Finally, my top 5 albums of the year list as well as the first three albums I reviewed as a freelancer will be published in the first issue of 2017 of the Inferno magazine (in Finland), out by the end of January.

What about 2017? I don't make very specific promises to myself because I know they will fail, but I will for sure commit to the effort to become more efficient and determined, but also to embrace the here-and-now. I feel like I learnt a lot about the aforementioned in 2016, and already made some adjustments to make my life more focused. While I would like to be able to make significant progress with the recording and possible band adaptation of my second album, my main focus this year - besides studies - needs to be in developing the novel ideas I have in mind, most specifically one of them, to make sure it won't take much more than a year to have again something to offer to publishers. I should also become more active with seeking for job opportunities, and brand myself, possibly through platforms such as YouTube, to make those opportunities arise while exercising my self-expression in usual as well as possibly forgotten ways. The writing I will do for Inferno will for sure continue and prove even more fruitful than it already has. Outside productivity, I should consider carefully what forms of relaxation and new experiences to pursue in the limits set by time and money, without wanting to pursue too few either. My relationship will undoubtedly remain strong and make sure that even stressful moments have a sense of calm and that true peace is achievable while my passions are shared in a way I can only remain thankful of.

Best of luck for the new year all over,
Joona

Monday, May 11, 2015

I Drown Before I Sleep

Now that my longtime project has been released, I have to write some of my thoughts down and, in a way, attempt to reach a bit of closure.

For those of you who don't know, my debut album Reflections & Realizations came out yesterday, with a release party held at my apartment on Friday the 8th. This album took me five years to make from scratch all on my own with the exception of the brilliant artwork and piano touches by my good friend Justine F. In fact, Cyan Lie, the fourth track on the album, was written over 1800 days ago. That is a quarter of my entire life. Of course, the reasons as to why it took so long to have everything finished had little to do with creative ripening or hard work and instead more to do with a lack of motivation and time. But all around, the album is obviously a result of hundreds if not thousands of hours of work and somewhat of a testament to persistence.


The real importance of the notion of the time it took me to make the album is that it wasn't just any 5 year-period in my life, it was my latter teenage years. I identify with myself and the world very differently now and have hopefully evolved into a more confident, independent, mature, self-acknowledging, socially comfortable, mentally powerful and all around open-minded individual. With that comes the wish that I'm also a more refined artist than I was back then, with band and live performance experiences under my belt, a broad yet focused interest in different styles and areas of art and an ever-growing ability and will to analyze existence.


In conclusion, I feel that with the release of the album, I've finally become an adult. Surely there's never one specific moment in time when you reach that state, but it feels like this is the last step I had to take besides moving from high school to university through non-military service, building a solid vision of what I want to do in life and becoming the one and only person to take care of myself on an everyday basis. There are always going to be things that I may not be able to cope with perfectly, but who's to say an adult should be like that. To me, an adult is not someone who doesn't suffer from crises, but one who has found independence, stability, control and direction - in other words determination - unlike one's teenage self. And I truly feel like I am starting to grasp all that.


What remains now is the one part of the process I have very little say in: finding listeners and getting some reactions. It's up to you, dear reader, to promote the album to your friends if you feel like it, because my resources let alone my circle of contacts is very limited. I do believe that the album is worth hearing for its diversity no matter the taste. Production-wise it might still sound unprofessional, but I have tried my best to polish everything and the songs themselves are genuinely good songs in my opinion. Having said that, the newer songs I've been working on are going to be superior. And those will be the adult Joona expressing himself.


Down below I will talk more about the album and its concepts as well as a little bit about each song I've just released to the world. I could talk forever about meanings, but I'll try to keep it concise. If you wish to interpret everything on your own terms, I suggest you don't continue much further. However, I'd be more than happy to hear what your thoughts are, because there's always going to be as many interpretations as there are interpreters, and that's one of the things that makes art so wonderful. Another such thing is influence, which for most of the songs is rather evident from my perspective. So, I have compiled a playlist with one influential track for each of the songs on the album, and will discuss those as well a few paragraphs down the road.


The concept for the entire record was to make a two-folded entirety in which every song has a reflection, hence the title Reflections & Realizations. This also affected the tracklisting so that the two sides are mirrored, meaning that opposite tracks (such as 1 and 17) are connected. This idea didn't remain "pure", however, since some of the tracks have a connection to more than one other song. In addition, the number of tracks was reduced from 18 to 17 due to time constraints on a CD and the fact that the instrumental bass symphony Awaiting The Great Depression works better as a one-time deal in my opinion, without a counterpart that is, making it a kind of interlude and watershed. This meant dropping off another track with a similar technique. There were also other tracks that I dismissed, my initial plan being that an EP with b-sides would be put out at the same time as the album. The EP included tracks such as Blue-Fragmented Pilgrimage and Let Go, which together with Cyan Lie completed a trilogy of songs telling a story. Since then, I have decided to put the EP on hold.


Another important conceptual element about the record is the artwork. Every song has an illustration which me and Justine brainstormed together and she produced beautifully. These illustrations are valuable on their own. At the same time they are representations of the atmospheres, stories, thoughts and emotions that I have embedded into the songs. This emphasizes how not a single thing on this album (writing-wise at least) was not carefully considered. Today, I would maybe redo a naive lyric here or a riff too straightforward there. But that wouldn't be staying true to what I meant at the time, and anyway the final result is still a fairly cohesive piece of work I can somewhat proudly call my own. And I doubt that there will ever be a release day when I'm wholesomely convinced of the perfection of my work. It's part of being an evolving artist. What matters is that there comes a time when the work is good enough of a representation of who you are and what you want to express to be set free.


All in all, diversity is the key to this album. It's prominent where the long and layered meet the short and simple, the fragile and contemplative meet the aggressive and primitive, and the desperate and romantic meet the hopeful and realistic. At the same time the frames are clear. Within is a compilation of things that had been growing inside me and through this process of realization will be more or less streamlined in the future.


Now, onto the tracks and their backstories. The songs are listed in chronological order.


Track: Cyan Lie

Influence: Deftones - Be Quiet And Drive (Far Away) [Around The Fur, 1997]
- This was the first song I wrote for the record that also made the final cut. Separated from the rest of the trilogy, it speaks about the dissonance of regret. Deftones was more or less a general influence on the song, but it's Be Quiet And Drive that sounds the most like Cyan Lie.

Track: Allergy/Anemia

Influence: Opeth - The Leper Affinity [Blackwater Park, 2001]
- First conceived in June 2010, Allergy/Anemia is one of the longest and most gyrating tracks on the record and quite blatantly speaks about an obsessive love interest. It's rather romantic in tone at a time when I didn't recognize myself as having such a style yet. The influence of The Leper Affinity comes across in the structure, the theme of obsession as well as the bass- and guitarwork in the semi-rapped middle section.

Track: The Black

Influence: Deftones - My Own Summer [Around The Fur, 1997]
- The Black was an unchallenged choice as the opening track for the album ever since I started working on it in the summer of 2010. The build-up at the start is a kind of variation of the basslines found in My Own Summer. At the same time there's some kinship between the way of reflecting on an excruciating heat wave in the latter and "a pessimist's dread scenario" on how the apocalypse might look like, sung in The Black.

Track: Baptism Of Fire

Influence: Tool - The Grudge [Lateralus, 2001]
- Tool's progressive outlook and sophistication is something I looked up to a lot in the few years before the making of this album and at the very start of the process. Later their influence has waned, but Baptism Of Fire actually started as an attempt to recreate the infectious rhythm of some of the riffs on Lateralus, mainly the main riff in The Grudge. The lyrics are even more similar, for Baptism Of Fire is about paranoia and reservedness that can also be seen as relating to Tool lyricist Maynard James Keenan's concept of grudge-holding.

Track: Half-Heart

Influence: Cult Of Luna - Waiting For You [Salvation, 2004]
- The initial conceptual influence for Half-Heart was Christian music, P.O.D. in particular with songs like Alive and their spiritual praise. At the end of the day I felt that worship was not really my thing, so instead I did some improvised vocal takes that resemble a pitiful inner monologue that could also be perceived as a prayer, later covered in the music to enhance the intimacy and mystery. Cult Of Luna's influence, then, was the relatively hypnotic structure and the melancholic, clean yet powerchord-infused riffing.

Track: The White

Influence: Deftones - Fist [Adrenaline, 1995]
- The White is notable for making the album a full circle as it starts with the riff that The Black ends with, a riff that in itself is similar to Opeth's Bleak. However, the biggest influence on the dynamic and sensitive grandiosity I attempted to create with this song comes from the hidden track on Deftones' debut album Adrenaline entitled Fist. The theme is a direct continuation over the one in The Black, with The White resembling both the vacuity of old existence and the purity of a new dimension.

Track: (Unholy) Months For Affection

Influence: Agalloch - Not Unlike The Waves [Ashes Against The Grain, 2006]
- The song that is the closest to doom metal out of the songs I've released so far and a kind of prelude to my upcoming Ravinethrall record at that. Unholy was the first song I did in 2011 and drew a lot of its inspiration from Not Unlike The Waves, most prominent in the main riff of the latter and the middle section of the former. Both also share a very winter-esque atmosphere, which is a deliberate context for the continuation of the story started in Allergy/Anemia.

Track: Wallow In Life

Influence: Korn - Here To Stay [Untouchables, 2002]
- Wallow In Life was influenced by so many things that I'm wondering if I even remember them all anymore. The musical backdrop is a fusion of Nostromo's chaotic metalcore, Korn's low riffing that utilizes sudden ascends and descends on the notes of a chromatic scale and yet again the style of Cult Of Luna where simple yet emotive and steadily strummed chord progressions reign. Lyrically we have the ideology of Arthur Schopenhauer seen through the eyes of my teenage self, actually resulting in a rather similar message than Here To Stay portrays.

Track: Grain

Influence: P.O.D. - Youth Of The Nation [Satellite, 2001]
- Grain is one of the harder songs to place an influence on, but as the reflection for Cyan Lie it definitely draws from the Deftones sound, as well as once again Nostromo's work. The little solo follows the notes of the one in Youth Of The Nation quite closely though, and in closer examination the spirit of the clean parts is not so far away from this P.O.D. hit single. I wrote about three different versions of lyrics for this song, but all of them had the similar theme continuing from Cyan Lie - after regret and acceptance towards your mistakes it's time to learn from them and ask for atonement, which sometimes requires you to change your ways in a drastic way.

Track: Polarity

Influence: Korn - Lies [Korn, 1994]
- Polarity, as suggested in the title, is loosely based on a character suffering from bipolar disorder, but for sure the shifts in mind I am describing through the song should be more easy to relate to than just that. Including rapping and a very sinister atmosphere, this song drew its biggest influence from Korn due to this being the only song on the whole album to go as low as Drop A tuning. A part in the song Lies quite directly inspired the muddy riff in the middle with ringing notes creating a haunting dissonance.

Track: CATS

Influence: God Is An Astronaut - Shadows [God Is An Astronaut, 2008]
- Reflection of Baptism Of Fire, with the character from that song recognizing the sentiment of loneliness in himself and taking a stand to open up to people more. Korn's Blame definitely had some impact on the piano riff I came up with for this song while in the sauna one night in the summer of 2011, but if it wasn't for God Is An Astronaut I wouldn't have dared to express it all in such a clean manner, with very post-rock -esque tremolo-picked lead guitars creating a crescendo near the end. The title, for the record, is pronounced a letter at a time, as it is first and foremost an abbreviation for something I have yet to reveal to anyone, but the reason I chose the title and its current form is how loneliness is so often, unfairly, associated with having multiple cats. :p

Track: Awaiting The Great Depression

Influence: Deftones - Needles And Pins [Deftones, 2003]
- The kind of brave and uncompromising decision that making an almost entirely bass-driven instrumental is wouldn't have even crossed my mind probably if it wasn't for various jam sessions on a distorted bass while listening to the self-titled Deftones record, an album where the sound is particularly huge and dark thanks to both Stephen Carpenter's Drop G# tuning and Chi Cheng's deep low end. I almost wanted to dedicate this song to Chi who unfortunately died in 2013, but it wouldn't do my favorite bassist's work any justice so that plan will remain an anecdote, as will the fact that I decided to not include drums (that had already been recorded) for most of the song only two nights before the release party. The name and illustration were inspired by the time that I wrote the song, its moaning and crushing atmosphere, as well as its placement in between a track rooted in summer (Allergy/Anemia) and one soaked in winter (Unholy) .

Track: Skies

Influence: Deftones - Change (In The House Of Flies) [White Pony, 2000]
- Skies is the result of a funny incident where I took my 6-string Fender Squier, tuned it down to Drop C# to play along to the self-titled Deftones album and broke a string which I refused to change and developed the 5-string tuning of C# G# C# C# G#. Next thing I knew, I had the demo of Skies at hand which was and still is my weird idea of a pop song, resembling Change (In The House Of Flies) the most out of all of Deftones' work. Lyrically Skies is another tale of heartache and feelings of worthlessness that follow, while at the same time it's the hope aspect in love precisely that makes you get up in the morning.

Track: Excruciated

Influence: Nostromo - Sunset Motel [Ecce Lex, 2002]
- The influence of this band and this particular track is quite immense on the album in comparison to how much I actually listen to them. Anyway, it also influenced the third riff in this track as well as some of the general feel of aggression, not to mention the wild pace. At the same time the short length and the style that's in-your-face yet very introverted and self-depricating in content pokes out from the rest of the album and carries along a nice dose of dynamicism, as the rapping, growling and pale clean vocals, the bass groove, the dissonant guitars and hard-hitting drumming evoke nothing else than utter angst.

Track: Drowning

Influence: Deftones - Battle-Axe [Deftones, 2003]
- The other song I played with my custom 5-string setting and lyrically a tribute and a thank you to the way music has saved my life, portraying it as a cure for both the existentialism in Wallow In Life and the moodiness in Polarity. The second riff in the song is close to the main one in Battle-Axe, and Drowning also has parts resembling The Grudge. This is a longtime favorite of myself and my closest friends who have had the opportunity to see it build from the demo stages to its final form, and in many ways this is perhaps a trademark song of mine with its progressive tendencies, leads of harmony and dissonance backed by slowly pulsing rhythms and ever-shifting structures and moods.

Track: Sip Of October

Influence: Opeth - The Drapery Falls [Blackwater Park, 2001]
- The counterpart of Half-Heart continues on the spiritual path contemplating evil and mental issues, with a very bittersweet tone. Besides the odd chords in The Drapery Falls that made me want to try some for this song, a part in the 20-minute mammoth Black Rose Immortal, also by Opeth, had a role in the way this song was shaped not to mention the length and structure that is again inspired by them. Even the title is not only a reference to October 2011 when I started writing the song but also a nod to Opeth titles such as Dirge For November and Forest Of October.

Track: Precipitation

Influence: Fear And The Nervous System: Ambien [Fear And The Nervous System, 2011]
- The last song I wrote for the album but ironically the first one I started recording and pretty much finished was Precipitation, yet another piece reeking of doomed love and romanticism. This song is notable for its prominence in keyboards, all played by me as opposed to the rest of the piano work on the album that was done by Justine. The influence of Fear And The Nervous System's debut album released only a month or so prior to the making of this song in the fall of 2011 is quite clear in every way possible, from the emotion to the progression to the tone, and I believe there is a reason as to why the same friends who love Drowning credit this as an exceptional vocal performance in my catalogue.

That's it, I'm through. I've missed writing these things, can you tell? Either way, it's all starting to sink in, this project is finally out there and final. And I'm starting to get ready to move on to some new music. I will never stop... Because I can't.


Thanks for all the support.


Love,

Joona

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Blood Dribbling From The Edge Of Poison

Wicked Breath - Reflections & Realizations

01. The Black | 
MP3 | Lyrics (RTF)
02. Baptism Of Fire | MP3 | Lyrics (RTF)
03. Drowning | MP3 | Lyrics (RTF)
04. Cyan Lie | MP3 | Lyrics (RTF)
05. Excruciated | MP3 | Lyrics (RTF)
06. Skies | MP3 | Lyrics (RTF)
07. Half-Heart | MP3
08. Allergy/Anemia | MP3 | Lyrics (RTF)
09. Awaiting The Great Depression | MP3
10. (Unholy) Months For Affection | MP3 | Lyrics (RTF)
11. Sip Of October | MP3 | Lyrics (RTF)
12. Precipitation | MP3 | Lyrics (RTF)
13. Wallow In Life | MP3 | Lyrics (RTF)
14. Grain | MP3 | Lyrics (RTF)
15. Polarity | MP3 | Lyrics (RTF)
16. CATS | MP3 | Lyrics (RTF)
17. The White | MP3 | Lyrics (RTF)

All tracks: ZIP | YouTube stream (only 196 kbps) | Last.fm Stream |
All lyrics:
RTF

Pre-orders for CD: contact me, preferrably via e-mail at sailittorinse@outlook.com or through commenting on this post with your name, address and a price of your choosing. (Don't worry about the amount of money you want to pay not being enough or being too much. If I was expecting a certain amount, I would just place it. Any orders are welcome!) Postage costs are added on top of your price (first class prices are 1,60€ for Finland, 2,30€ for Europe and 5,50€ for the rest of the world). Accepted payment methods include PayPal, bank transfer and cash. Pre-orders will start shipping June 1st, 2015. NOTE: the first 10 orders placed will receive a limited, handmade digipak edition of the CD with only 27 made in total. The rest of the copies will have regular jewel case packaging. All CDs are numbered and come with a 24-page booklet.

Please share the record as much as you like. :)



"Reflections & Realizations was written solely by Joona Turunen, commencing in April of 2010 and ending in July of 2013. The recording, editing and mixing phase took place between October of 2011 and May of 2015.

Wicked Breath is:
Joona Turunen - vocals, guitars, bass, drums, keyboards, programming

Additional credits:
Joona Turunen - recording, editing, mixing, producer on all tracks
Justine F - piano on tracks 7, 11, 16, 17

Artwork and layout by Justine F"

(Reflections & Realizations is licensed under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC -SA 3.0. For more info, see https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/.)

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Year Of Summer

The year is yet again about to shift. Although I don't feel motivated to write a long and analytic post, I still want to share some things to wrap 2014 up.

First, here's my annual end of the year playlist, compiling songs that have been meaningful for me throughout the year: here.

Next is my rank of albums released in 2014 that I have had the chance to check: here. It's really short, but shows how this year felt truly exceptional in terms of the excellence of the albums I did listen to. Every album was either just what I had expected or much better, so this list is devoid of any disappointments. As for EPs, I only heard Katatonia's Kocytean (4.0/5.0) and Days Of The Fallen Sun (3.0/5.0) by Junius, so I didn't even bother making a list.

During the year I also obtained two new band-related items of clothing. You can view short descriptions of them and my other band clothes here.

Then it's time to talk about the year in general. I'll try to keep this short and will exclude any major personal details.

While once again 2014 was not as fruitful as I would have hoped, looking back, it was still pretty decent. I was able to release the first half of my debut album Reflections & Realizations in February, and work on the second half to the extent that a full release is now only months away - and that I can say with certainty since there's only oh so little left to do considering the amount of work it has already taken out of me so far. I never imagined let alone wanted this project to take 5 years, and I can't even say with a straight face that in the end it was all worth it. Don't get me wrong, I do stand behind the songs and feel that production-wise the final product is the best I can do - apart from my approach to the mixing of the drums for the second half, which is much better than what the drums sound on the first half in my opinion. But I also know that the ending result is not going to be totally satisfactory because a) it's not yet professional enough, because I'm not professional enough b) I have newer and better songs waiting to be captured for future albums. Still, I yearn for that day when I can hold the CD in my hand. Thankfully it's not too far away anymore.

My future albums have deserved more of my time this year than Reflections & Realizations, actually. It's shocking, but my upcoming second album is pretty much completed in terms of compositions already and 50% done lyrically. My third album is musically 2/3 done and lyrically 1/3 done. However, these numbers are put into perspective when I say that both of these two albums were started in 2011. These days I feel that this eternally long cooking process is actually a benefit and helps me ensure that the songs are indeed strong enough for the record. Anyway, I have already made plans to capture my second album Romanticism in the summer of 2015. I am so excited for this project that it can't really be put into words right now. For the third album Ravinethrall I've made a song here and there and same goes for the fourth album that is still very much in its baby steps. There's even two other projects, but for those two I only have short ideas, not really actual songs. All of these might never even see the light of day, and even at best they will take years and years to finish. But the important thing is that I have made progress with all of them and it's been fun all year.

Although it got cut after the fifth week, I enjoyed my "A Day; A Record" project at the start of the year. It not only brought me joy in terms of discovering new music, but also in terms of delightful feedback and confidence I gained towards my writing. Though I never reached my rather optimistic goal which was to make it to 1000 albums/EPs heard by my 20th birthday, I did make a list of my 20 favorite albums in video form. I also did hear 71 albums and 10 EPs I hadn't heard before in 2014, which is only half of my record set in 2012, but considering how much work I had to do, it's still pretty nicely done I think. This year was the year I totally fell in love with Paradise Lost, and became even more attached to the music of Opeth and Katatonia. Of course, I also got to see Opeth live on my birthday together with Alcest, and enjoyed the live presence of Korn and Hacktivist as well. I heard Maj Karma for the first time, came to love them, and dived deeper into the music of Brüssel Kaupallinen. This lead me to add both of these Finnish bands to my favorite bands list alongside October Tide, who's 1997 album Rain Without End was one of my most important and heavily consumed albums this year.

Perhaps my biggest and most rewarding artistic project has been my poetry book, which I began writing in September 2013 and continued working on throughout 2014. I'm now at a phase where I have only a few ideas left to try; after that it's nothing but perfecting the poems I want to keep and fitting the pieces together. I probably have about 130 poems to choose from, including the 48 poems I've done during the past two Christmas calendars. The best ones I'm really proud of, and even if no publishing house would decide to grab the book, I'm still going to be thrilled that I have done such a project and made it final. Not as thrilled as for an artistically successful album, but still thrilled.

Besides my art, I've of course been working, studying and - gasp - socializing. I completed my non-military service at the Savonlinna Christian Institute in August. My service brought me some happy memories, confidence, experience and a feeling I had done something meaningful while assisting, being on call and even teaching. SKO is truly a place I will happily return to time and time again. In the spring I had an intense 3-month period of studying for university entrance exams. I applied for literature in Jyväskylä, Finnish and literature in Joensuu and journalistics in Jyväskylä. I passed every exam but chose literature in Jyväskylä as my major, with journalistics as my minor. Since having moved to Jyväskylä at the end of August my life has taken a rather radical turn and mostly for the better. I have more friends than I ever have and ever could've wished for, I'm glad to study again and challenge myself through school, I love living in my own apartment, I enjoy the city's atmosphere, and above all I feel inspired. Sure there's still pressure and time limitations et cetera, but I am not hesitant to say that I'm living the best time of my life right now. And if the conditions don't change, it might go on for at least the next 3-5 years.

Having said all of that, I must conclude that I feel grateful for all that I have and wish a happy new year to each and everyone. Politically, 2015 looks like a very unstable year. Personally? Who knows. I just know that the most defining years of my life so far have been 2003, 2007 and 2011. See the pattern? ;)


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

[Christmas Calendar] Day 24: Windowpane


Bare, your fingertips warm;
bliss, under the mantle loan.




Blank face in the windowpane
made clear in seconds of light
disappears and returns again
counting hours, searching the night
might be waiting for someone
might be there for us to see
might be in need of talking
might be staring directly at me

Inside plays a lullaby
Slurred voice over children cries
on the inside

Haunting loneliness in the eye
Skin covering secret scars
His hand is waving a goodbye
There's no response or action returned

There is deep prejudice in me
outshines all reason inside
Given dreams all ridden with pain
and projected unto the last


(Photo and poem © 2014 Joona Turunen. Licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0.)
("Windowpane" by Opeth. Lyrics &  music by Mikael Åkerfeldt℗ 2003 Music For Nations, © 2006 Sony BMG Music Entertainment (UK) LTD.)

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

[Christmas Calendar] Day 23: Uuden Ajan Merkit


Cruising through branches
a bird finds the nest empty
of feathers, just leaves.




Vanhat ennustukset ovat jälleen käyneet toteen
Napapisteet vaihtaneet paikkaa
Kompassineulakin pysähtynyt paikalleen keskelle kehäänsä
neula yrittää paikantaa uutta pohjoista pistettään

Uuden ajan merkit tänään ilmassa
Uuden ajan merkit näkyvät jo taivaalla
Uuden ajan merkit ennustettiin vuosia sitten
kun kaikki sateenkaaret katosivat sateen jälkeen

Lintuparvet lentävät, ovat kadottaneet suunnat
vanhojen muuttoreittien
Lentävät kohti etelää siivet ylösalaisin, kylmyyttä pakoon
kunnes putoilevat maahan sulat jäätyneinä

Uuden ajan merkit näkyvät nyt taivaalla
Uuden ajan merkit tänään ilmassa
Uuden ajan merkit ennustettiin vuosia sitten
kun kaikki sateenkaaret katosivat sateen jälkeen

Järven ranta vetäytynyt kauas ulapalle
Merivesi tulvii kaupungin kaduille
Tuulet ovat kääntyneinä suoraan pystysuuntaan
Poutapilvet pudonneina alas maan pintaan

Uuden ajan merkit tänään ilmassa
Uuden ajan merkit putoavat taivaalta


(Photo and poem © 2014 Joona Turunen. Licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0.)
("Uuden Ajan Merkit" by Brüssel Kaupallinen. Lyrics & music by Juha-Pekka Aunola, Janne Helttunen, 
Petteri Korkala & Antti Leiviskä. © & ℗ 2014 Stop The Building.)

Monday, December 22, 2014

[Christmas Calendar] Day 22: Needles And Pins


It tickles light when play becomes
a parlor down in solar flames.


How neat, I'm impressed
how did you come to be so blessed

You're a star, you blaze
out like a sharp machine
like a whale's moan
I'm here if that's what you want

Here we are
You're pins, I'm needles
Let's play
Here we are
If you want this
then come on

Tune out everyone in the crowd
because now it's just me and you
Come fall in love with the sound
Make a pact to each other
when no one's around
Put the cross between me and you
Who wants to fuck with us now

(Photo and poem © 2014 Joona Turunen. Licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0.)
("Needles And Pins" by Deftones. Lyrics & music by Deftones. © & ℗ 2003 Maverick Recording Company.)