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|Cultural origins||Mid-1990s, Finland|
Suomisaundi, (English: "Finnish sound") also known as suomisoundi, suomistyge or spugedelic trance, is a style of psychedelic trance that originated in Finland around the mid-1990s. "Suomisaundi" literally means "Finnish sound" in Finnish; music that features many of the characteristics of suomisaundi has gained global popularity.
Sometime during the early years of the 90s, a party collective Ruskababa introduced Goa trance to a handful of enthusiasts through their covert summertime party activities. The music in these parties were typically played from DAT tapes, or even from cassette tapes and included mostly hits from Goa from the previous season's parties. Pepe Kosminen was one of the DJ's playing these new psychedelic tunes to the Finnish audience in Ruskababa parties.
Largely due to these influences coming from Goa, certain DJ's started to include Goa trance hits in their sets, and new party collectives emerged. The first new collective was Smooth Underground which organised the last of its parties in a warehouse in Herttoniemi, with Ville Tikkanen playing Goa trance for the first time in Finland in a more conventional trance setting. After the dismantling of Smooth Underground, another group, Löyhä was formed. Löyhä was the first party collective to put a special focus on promoting locally made music. Inspired by the covert party tradition of Ruskababa and Smooth Underground, the group was determined to push the boundaries of organising unlicensed parties in an urban environment. It was not uncommon for the early organisers to experience issues with the authorities related to the parties.
The first time Suomisaundi reached global circulation was during the 95/96 season in Goa, when DAT tape recordings of early songs produced by Tim Thick became an overnight sensation within the gatekeepers of the underground Goa trance DJ scene. The sounds and themes found in these short FastTracker 2 songs, and the inspiring response they had received globally, became the basic building blocks of the Suomisaundi phenomena.
Arguably the genre-defining Suomisaundi album is the self-published compilation, 'Flippin Bixies', in 1996. It was the first album to directly answer to the rapidly growing need for a new localised sound, that had been created over the previous years by the party collectives and the general popularization of electronic music. The album was named after a private recording studio that was located near Kurvi in Helsinki around mid 90s.
In 1997 Exogenic Records became the first record label to focus on Suomisaundi and approximately during the same time Midiliitto was founded as an association focusing on the advancement of production and commercialisation of Suomisaundi. Pepe Kosminen was the founding Chairman of Midiliitto. Together with Flippin Bixies, Midiliitto counted within its members many of the future international stars of Suomisaundi, including the members of groups like Texas Faggott and Squaremeat.
Initially there was criticism of Suomisaundi because early examples of the genre suffered from lack of production standards and inconsistent quality. These criticisms, however, grew increasingly inaccurate as the average production quality improved significantly and the availability of music improved significantly. In 2000 Tim Thick launched Thixx'n'Dixx, a website that hosted a massive catalogue of Suomisaundi in an easy-to-access format.
Thixx'n'Dixx grew so popular that it was mentioned in a pop music program on Finnish national TV. Tim is widely credited for being the first to produce tracks closely resembling the modern Suomisaundi in -94, earning him a cult status within the global Goa trance DJ and party organiser community over the course of the following year.
After site-hosting problems and excessive bandwidth usage, the Thixx'n'Dixx site operates nowadays merely as a suomisaundi link catalogue, offering links to individual suomisaundi artist pages at mikseri.net, which is a Finnish MP3 community for unsigned/independent artists. Another popular MP3 download site for suomisaundi music is the Antiscarp-website, hosted by members of the Finnish psytrance group Salakavala.
Since 2000, the global interest in Finnish trance has grown significantly, with many Finnish groups touring internationally and performing to a growing global fan base. However, usually outside Finland, the Suomi-style is still considered an eccentricity within the context of the psytrance genre. Most notable suomisaundi audiences outside Finland are in Russia, Ukraine, Japan and Australia. The Japanese label, 6-Dimension Soundz, concentrates almost exclusively on releasing suomi-style trance.
Steady fanbases in Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Russia and Eastern Europe led to non-Finnish producers creating Finnish style psytrance music around the world. The term "Suomisaundi" is typically used only to describe music that is produced in Finland whereas music produced in the suomi tradition but outside of Finland is more loosely described as "freestyle psytrance."
The genre is generally not as formulaic as most current psytrance, with artists having more freedom to explore their own individual sounds and styles. The most recognizable element of this style is that it has no set rules apart from basic trance elements such as the four-on-the-floor kick drum that has characterized the majority of electronic dance music styles to date. Suomisaundi tracks are usually very melodic and eclectic, typically with heavy influence from early Goa, tribal house and acid trance and as well as—departing from classical psychedelic trance—some degree of influence from funk music (e.g., incorporation of funky horn, guitar, or keyboard loops) oftentimes decorated with sounds and ambience reminiscent of "retro" video games.
Songs frequently include distorted sampling, layers and combinations of effects, tricky drum fills and breaks, as well as speech samples in Finnish or in English. On many occasions there are forms of strange humor and/or self-irony in the music or in the track titles. Some even describe the suomi-style of psytrance as anarchistic and almost punk in the trance music scene, even dadaist, because the songs are usually very different and progressive (or exploratory) compared to mainstream European psytrance tracks. Conversely, mainstream psychedelic trance comparatively sounds more "serious" than suomisaundi.
Additionally, suomisaundi bass tends to differ from conventional European psytrance in patch design, equalization, and rhythmic distinction. For example, bass patches tend to be less punchy (i.e., have a slower attack) and often breaks a “rule” followed by European and Israeli producers: never overlap kick drum and bass notes.
Some artists such as Luomuhappo and Tekniset have incorporated Finnish folk melodies into their tracks, giving their music a more distinct Finnish sound. Finnish nature has also played an important role in the direction of the Finnish sound, with Suomisaundi parties frequently taking place in the forests of Finland and tracks and albums often referencing this aspect of the genre, for example Puoskari's album Open the Forest and Haltya's Forest Flavor and Book of Nature albums.
Texas Faggott, released by Australian Psy-Harmonics label in 1999, is the first commercially successful Suomisaundi record. The album was also likely to have been among the first to create interest within the traditional trance crowd.
The popularity of Texas Faggott grew amongst the Finnish trance scene with their second release, Petoman's Peflett in 2001. Group member Tim Thick has been an active promoter of Finnish psy-trance, as he established and operated Thixx'n'Dixx (http://thixxndixx.stc.cx/) in 2000, a site offering free MP3 downloads from almost all of the existing Finnish psy-trance artists including tracks from his own groups.
Pelinpala released his album My CD has landed on the nextdoor neighbours dog in October 1999 on the legendary Demon Tea recordings (Australia). Pelinpala's album was a mixture of extreme psychedelia and is considered one of the classic psychedelic Suomisaundi albums. Pelinpala later became active in another well established Finnish old school psychedelic project: Haltya.
So far Haltya has released three albums, Forest Flavor, Electric Help Elves and Book of Nature and a good number of other published works in their unique style of funky forest sound. Haltya is considered to be one of the psy originals in the world, due to their characteristic approach in music. They are one of Finland's most wanted live acts abroad. The main figure behind Pelinpala and Haltya is producer/composer Tommi Sirkiä, who is responsible for a wide range of musical contributions in Finnish modern electronic dance music, and is one of Finland's most internationally acknowledged electronic music producers today.
Squaremeat has created a unique "power disco" sound, releasing several well-received albums. Squaremeat's Pepe Kosminen is a long-time trance producer and a true pioneer of the Finnish psychedelic trance movement with more than 20 years as an active contributor in the scene, producing solo albums as well as collaborations with other artists within the genre. Projects that Pepe has been a part of include F-Virus, Flying Scorpions, Gruuvit Muuvit, Midilitto, Nano Buds, Lightaman Jr. and Dirty Dreds.
In its debut album "The Final Truth 2020" Shiwa2000 continued in honour to the FastTracker 2 culture that had almost died out of the Suomisaundi scene together with its growing commercialisation. Together with others, the already then legendary underground musician Rick Timebees created the album that proved that FT2 could be used to create studio quality psychedelic trance. With its tongue in cheek approach, Shiwa2000 amplified many of the already brewing ingredients of Suomisaundi; fundamentally speaking psychedelia and parody. Rick's greatest contribution to Suomisaundi, and to the world of music in general, is his dedicated work towards refining the art and science of tupla-isku. Arguably the single most important innovation in the history of trance music.
Shiwa2000 was the first ever release on Karelia Records, an early investor in Suomisaundi with its founders coming from various backgrounds mentioned elsewhere in this article. Two of the Suomisaundi labels with the most releases are Exogenic Records and Freakdance Records, but many of the popular Finnish trance-artists might not have recorded, making their music only available as MP3s on the Internet.
The term "spugedelic" is comically derived from "psychedelic" and "spuge", meaning "an alcoholic" in Helsinki slang. The term "spugedelic" was likely first used by suomisaundi artist Huopatossu Mononen, releasing a track called "Kikapelaus (A Spugedelik Return To Monoverse)."
Notable music names in this genre
- Huopatossu Mononen
- Texas Faggott
- Scum Unit
- Shiwa 2000
- Pavel Svimba
- Eraser vs Yöjalka
- James Reipas
- Mullet Mohawk
- Saiko Disco
- Antiscarp Warriors
- KOVA - Brazil
- Ruohotukka - México
- Engywuck - México
- Calamar Audio - Finland
- Crazy Ducks - Belgium
- Mussa Kussa
- Psychedelic eMag - Free monthly eMagazine dedicated to global psy trance
- PsyUniverse - Psytrance Social Network (dead link, now links to a Japanese pay-day loans spam page. I searched for an alternative, but came up dry, reckon it's disappeared. Shame)
- Finnish psy-trance forum Elixiria