Various artists/ Elliott Sharpe - Tone of Finland [Crystral Eye - 2005]Tone of Finland spreads across two disks a remixed version of Elliot Sharpe’s soundtrack for the 1991 documentary about gay artist and icon Tom of Finland, which appears on the second disk. On the first disk we get Reinterpretation and remixes of the original soundtrack by eight Finish electronic artists, including a track by Mika Vainio of Pan-sonic.
I think I’ll work back to front so to speak, first talking about sharpes original, though remixed soundtrack . Some Tracks from this were original released on sharpes soundtrack compilation album Figure Ground, on Zorn'sTzadik label in 1997. But here it’s been nicely remixed and presenting with all of its tracks, along three Tom of Finland Influenced tracks, by other artist. Which utilize similar feel and textures to the Sharpe soundtrack. Really it doesn’t come across what one would expect to be the soundtrack for a film about a gay icon.
Backwoods opens the soundtrack with sinister dark ambient guitar tones, seemly painting out a sleazy kind of canvas of twisting a flexing male body’s, or maybe it’s trying to portray the dark side of gay culture or possible the ashamed feelings, that gay men were made to feel in the past. Further back mixes slightly dated electronics with sinister synth plonking, again maybe a creepy off kilter take on gay dance music. For the most part the tracks settle either in the sinister dark guitar ambience camp or the eltro sleaze air. Though it certainly has some rewarding moments along the way, it does sadly because of the electronics, sound some what dated, in a bad way. Never the less it works as nice background ambience, as long as you don’t focus too much on the electronics.
Going back to the first disk the collection of track influenced or remixed by Finish artists. This again sadly is somewhat mixed, Samples do have a tendency to be over used and some of the track treads very similar ground. The tracks run from nice edgy beat-work, to more experimental climbs, to more standard dance come pop music. Toms men by Dj Slow, is a nice memorable pop electronics track, using dialogue samples from the documentary, along with a funky 70’s disco samples. Tom, Tom, Tom by Jullani Limataiene, uses cut up elements of Tom of Finland's voice speaking his mother tongue, and electronic stretches and bends it, to a great eerier effect. Contact by Pekka Lappi, users film reeling sound, creepy laugher and grim regal and sleazy ambience, and sudden noise attack, to make a great gloomy and often disturbing audio canvas. Finally Mika Vainio Tom Unessaan, is muscle pumped and distorted beat work, with a great fuzzed up horn work.
So a mixed bag really, but there’s enough here to trigger the interest of those who enjoy Mr Sharpes work or those who like to sample some. And those interested in look into finish electronic scene, that certain has some interesting and inventive artist from what’s showcased here. To buy direct and here samples and find more about the project go here.Roger Batty