For background information on the NWW List and related links, see my previous posts.
The Sperm - Shh! (1970) - The 60s counterculture hit Finland with explosive results. Even prior to the late 60s, Finland was considered an important center for contemporary electronic music and avant-garde art and performance. If you then consider psychedelic and progressive rock on into the 70s, the Finnish scene was so rich that once you start listening you'll never run out of new discoveries; certainly, a wealth of curious releases remain unissued on CD. Several key titles have been made available on CD by Love Records. For a detailed account of what went on, and the artists that propagated the mayhem, see the Finnscene site. Also look for the indispensable compilation CD Arktinen Hysteria - Suomi-Avantgarden Esipuutarhureita (Love Recs), featuring several artists from the NWW List and other notable Finnish maniacs.
The Sperm were formed in 1967 by Pekka Airaksinen (who also features independently on the NWW List), J.O. Mallander and other giants of the Helsinki art/music scene, making them sort of an underground "supergroup." They organized happenings, and made outrageous music using electric guitar, tape manipulation and other noises, spiritual grandaddys to the likes of Throbbing Gristle, Merzbow, Matthew Bower and The Dead C. Yes, this album really is that good. [Heinäsirkat mp3]
Also quite worthwhile is the recently released Pekka Airaksinen/Sperm 2-disc collection including unreleased goodies, Madam I'm Adam (features 2 other tracks from the Shh! album.)
Patrick Vian - Bruits Et Temps Analogues - Excellent moog-based rock album released in 1976 on the legendary Egg label. It's a wonder this hasn't been reissued, what with the intense interest in all things analog, to say nothing of the dozens of "sampleable" grooves herein. Similar to early Heldon, or mid-period Tangerine Dream, but really its own thing and a very enjoyable recording. Patrick Vian had previously led the group Red Noise (1970), also featured on the list. [Grosse Nacht Musik mp3] [Tunnel 4 Red Noise mp3]
Tomorrow's Gift - Goodbye Future (1973) - Tomorrow's Gift's first self-titled album is currently in print on CD and fairly easy to get. It has some fine moments of arranged-prog-lunacy, and wonderful musical passages shaped around the reedy vocals of Ellen Meyer. Not bad at all, but taken as a whole the affair smacks of a less-than-great Amon Düül II session, especially when compared to their second album, Goodbye Future, wherein a whole new band identity had been forged under the considerable production guidance of Conny Plank, whose mixing desk rendered many a great German rock masterpiece, and whose achievements as a musician/producer/engineer/inspiration are too numerous to discuss in a blog post. By the time of Goodbye Future, Tomorrow's Gift had been reduced from a sextet to a keyboard-dominated trio, producing tightly arranged instrumentals recalling The Mothers of Invention (with the occasional loosely-wrapped improv thrown in for good measure.) [Jazzi Jazzi - Der Geier fliegt vorbei mp3]
Dies Irae - First - Originally released in 1971 on Pilz, a label known more for trippy folk-based artists like the great Witthuser and Westrupp, Dies Irae were a bit of an odd choice: indisputably the Black Sabbath of Krautrock, with heavy, gruff, bluesy electric guitar enveloping and guiding the arrangements alá Tony Iommi. Krautrock tomes and articles often cite "Trip" as the track of note here, for its obvious psychedelic flavor; the song voted most likely to be "Kosmische." But after many a listen, it's the Teuton-infused post-Sabbath rockers that I find to be the songs of enduring interest. Dies Irae's one and only album was reissued on CD by Ohrwaschl in the mid-90s, but good luck finding it now. [Another Room mp3] [Lucifer mp3]
New Phonic Art 1973 - One disc of a triple-set released on Deutsche Grammophon in 1974 aimed at showcasing the contemporary improvised music in Europe by way of three combos: one French (New Phonic Art), one German (Wired - with Conny Plank producing) and one from Great Britain (Iskra 1903, featuring Derek Bailey). Each group was given a full disc to do their thing with seemingly no restrictions. New Phonic Art 1973 was a quartet that assembled notable 20th century composers Michel Portal, Vinko Globokar, Carlos Roqué Alsina (from Argentina), and Jean-Pierre Drouet. [Improvisation Nr. 2 mp3]
Iskra 1903 - Since the formation of this trio in 1970, the name Iskra (with an assortment of date-based suffixes) has been assumed for many different lineups, usually comprised of musicians from the Spontaneous Music Ensemble/Incus/Emanem extended family. Featured in the 1974 Deutsche Grammaphon triple-disc set mentioned above, Iskra 1903: Improvisations represents the original trio, with Derek Bailey (guitars), Barry Guy (bass) and Paul Rutherford (trombone). [Improvisation 5018 mp3]
Wired - Wired was the German third of the Free Improvisation boxed set (Deutsche Grammophon couldn't very well exclude their own countrymen) - a quartet comprising Harry Partch disciple Mike Ranta on percussion, guitarist Karl-Heinz Böttner on saiteninstrumente (stringed instruments), Mike Lewis on Hammond organ, and the aforementioned Conny Plank on klangregie (sound direction; this indicates the importance of the mixing desk in the session.) The Wired disc (minus the other two from the set) appeared within the last year as a "grey-area" LP, which is available here. [Wired I (edit) mp3]