Aki Peltonen
Radio Banana


It still happens, once in a while, that one finds oneself surprised by a clear and original musical vision contained inside a record that appears to be a "mysterious object". It happens less frequently than it used to happen in the past (for reasons to numerous to be discussed here), but it still happens. It happened to me with regards to this album by Aki Peltonen, and if I understand it correctly it happened also to the record company that releases and distributes it. I believe Peltonen to be a Finnish musician. He's very good as a studio technician, as it's clearly demonstrated by Radio Banana, which Peltonen himself recorded and mixed - besides composing and arranging it. Peltonen also plays the bass, but it's his accordion playing that's the element that makes this album timbrally stand out. The line-up is certainly not too common (here the line-ups double as album titles): two tracks are for "orchestra" (a trio of wind instruments, bass, very good drums, and Moog), accordion and a MW-radio; two for accordion and drums (one adding the radio); and then we have a Finnish Waltz. Wisely, total length is kept at about 40', so the final effect is quite intense.

While it's true that this is the kind of music that's easier to listen to than to describe, giving a few hints it's still possible. The first track has a definite "latin" and "mariachi" atmosphere, with propulsive drums and lively winds that engage in a dialogue with the accordion. The second track is quite slow and lyrical, with a circular melody played on the accordion and a drum set that can be more fully appreciated. To me, the rhythm of the third track sounded somewhat similar to that of the music that accompanied those "car chase" scenes in those movies from the end of the 60s/early 70s (Lalo Schifrin? Quincy Jones?), the accordion almost appearing to quote some funky, upbeat, rhythm guitar moves. The only long track here, Finnish Waltz walks in an intimate way, and has some nice wind work towards the end. Sporting a different drummer, the closing track has a more "minimalistic" approach. On this album, the MW-radio and the Moog produce tones that are sometimes at odds with the music produced by the other instruments, with nice results.

So I'm quite glad this record exists. Now I'd like to know more.

Beppe Colli

© Beppe Colli 2005

CloudsandClocks.net | June 16, 2005