Recently, I discovered some wonderful music from the Nordic country that often gets overlooked: Finland. And most of these artists are signed to Soliti – an independent label run single-handedly by a man with an impeccable taste: Nick Triani. As someone who seeks out the unsung heroes of music, and since I was going all they to Iceland for the Airwaves, thought might as well take two more plane connections to Helsinki to find out what was in their waters. Nineteen hours after I left my home in Portland, I found myself in the country that gave the world Nokia and Angry Birds. Unfortunately, I arrived a week too late or a week too early for live performances by Soliti artists. However, I was determined to catch at least one show, even if I had to travel even further to accomplish that goal. And that opportunity came through the band who just released their second LP: Delay Trees, who had a show, two hours north of the capital city, in the town of Tampere.
Though the snow came early to a land that conjures up frozen imagery any time of the year, I found Finns to be some of the warmest people in my lifetime of travels. Not in the way of “mi casa es su casa”, but they seem to genuinely care. On this occasion, Delay Trees borrowed their friend’s dying van to accommodate my request to come along on their journey. The five of us arrived a little after 7pm to a lively dinner crowd at Telakka. The venue was not just a restaurant with a stage, it had an active theater above, and a sauna in the green room! I was fancying that fate was throwing me a genuine slice of Finland.
Actually, Delay Trees had just played a week ago to a packed crowd at Telakka, days after the release of Doze, so their expectations for attendance wasn’t high. By the time the opening band, Kairon, took the stage, the dining crowd had thinned out but several people stayed around – whether out of curiosity or to finish their night cap. The older crowd gradually dissipated while the younger crowd casually poured in as the night matured.
Finally, after killing over four hours with sound check, photo shoots, marker tattooing, and other little things we did to have fun, it was time for Delay Trees to fill the modest hall with their gorgeous expansive dream pop. Before we could be immersed in the psychedelic melancholia of the quartet, guitarist/keyboardist, Lauri Järvinen, had some trouble with his effects pedals. Finnish being such a foreign language to my ears, not sure if the issue was fully resolved, but obviously not enough to ruin the night. What came out from that cluttered stage transformed the intimate venue into a space with no walls – like echos of trees in the forest enveloping you in a cocoon.
Delay Trees executed slower tunes just as well as the more aggressive tracks. The haunting nocturnal instrumental piece, “Glacier”, was the perfect intro to break into their current single, “HML” – the most radio-friendly track from Doze. But for a live setting, the songs that build on layers as it progresses like “Pause” or “Gold,” as well as the highly charged and fuzzed-out “Future” shined the brightest. It was rather short set with nine songs, but well balanced between their two LPs and an EP.
Ideally, any art form should be judged purely on their craft. However, our human nature can’t help to be influenced by external factors such as the character of the artist. There is something inherently tragic in Delay Trees’ soundscape, betraying their light-hearted personalities. But that’s just an observation from one night. We all know between black and white, there are countless shades of gray. Even so, I could sense a great friendship among the lads of Delay Trees, and that vibe transfers seamless harmony in their music.
I traveled far to satiate my love for music and in the process, hoped to spark interest to the world oblivious of stupendous music produced in Finland.
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