Läjä Aijälä & Albert Witchfinder - Centuries Of Youth

10 Oct 2021 - Thorsten

Experimental Noise / Ritualistic Rave / Downbeat Ambient | Svart Records | Release date: 15 Oct 2021

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What is “punk”? A style of clothing like Vivienne Westwood’s clothes? A kind of music somewhere between the Ramones and Sick of It All? Or rather a kind of mental attitude trying to challenge everything? Läjä Äijälä and Albert Witchfinder have an answer for it and some of you won’t like it! I personally do!

A few decades ago, Page Hamilton, the mastermind behind Noise-Rockers Helmet was asked whether his band was not too clean to be considered Punk and he replied that “being Punk” did not have anything to do with a certain style of clothing (he said something like not having to look like shit to be punk) – so there we have one way of answering it that Läjä and Albert would probably agree with.

The two are famous for being a part of Finland’s oldest punk band Terveet Kädet (Läjä) and of Reverend Bizarre (Albert) – both bands trying to challenge the regular listening habits of their audience. And my, have they achieved that feat with Centuries Of Youth, which is like a bastard between a vicious bacteria and a weeping, wiggling worm both fighting for the ear canals of those who don’t turn away quickly enough.

Any style of trying to pinpoint certain styles or genres will basically lead to a kind of call for conformity in the sense that one has to wear leather pants with metal elements to be punk. Or has to have a paper-clip piercing his earlobe. Even a kind of trying to find a musical identity called “punk” might be difficult because of the manifold shapes the term has been applied to over the last 50 years. The Ramones – definitely punk. Green Day – arguably punk. SR-71 – definitely not punk (rather following the “clothes make you punk” idea). But isn’t Black Flag also punk? Minor Threat? Millions of Dead Cops? All punk, probably more Hardcore Punk, but still, basically punk. How about Einstürzende Neubauten, Birthday Party and Suicide? These bands definitely embody the philosophical idea of punk. Challenging everyone’s musical expectations, limitations and gentrifications. Punk is basically nothing but a synonym for non-conformity (which doesn’t imply that every teenager trying to challenge mom and dad is automatically punk, but rather puberty). Läjä and Albert have a new record out on October 15th, 2021 and it is punk, even though nothing is The Ramones, Black Flag or Birthday Party. It is as much Punk as it is Experimental, as much Drone as Krautrock, equally Electronic and Noise. Maybe the best musical comparison is a cross between Machinefabriek and early Neubauten, middle-period Kraftwerk and ambient Sunn O))). Some of Läjä’s musical layers are amazingly simple beats, pumping like a rush from the head to the heart to the feet. In other songs there are layers that sound like a screaming sawblade while some wonderfully melancholic classical instrument is played in the background (whether it is a wind or a string instrument cannot be distinguished).

The record, released on Svart, will feature Albert’s vocals which are as challenging as Lingua Ignota’s (please, do not confuse vocals and lyrics!) and yet also somewhat like Dark Buddha Rising’s Marko – it sometimes sounds as if he is trying to get rid of demons that have been imposed on him. In that sense this record is quite close to Ural Umbo’s latest record Roomer. Another band that does not accept genre limitations. Läjä and Albert also don’t accept those, and in that sense this record is much more Punk than anything I heard this year! Highly un-recommended for friends of genres – really heartily recommended for friends of musical challenges!