Reviewed by Charlie Bertsch
Friday, February 16 2001, 12:57 PM
I'll be honest with you. I didn't even try to listen to this record objectively. You know how some people have a thing for girls with naturally curly red hair or boys who wax their body with wood glue? I feel the same way about Finland. As a teenager, I spent hour after hour memorizing a map of that small, cold land. I fondled Finnish glassware at Bloomingdale's. I even developed a secondary fixation on the Hungarian diaspora, because Hungarian and Finnish are distantly related tongues. Once, while travelling in Germany, I had the good fortune of spending several hours next to a beautiful Finnish maid. I was sure I would derive some sexual pay-off from the coincidence. But instead of melting in my arms, she decided I was a freak. And to think I believed that reciting the names of 50 Finnish municipalities would make her wetter than a tumbler full of Finlandia!
In case you haven't figured it out by now, the members of Circle are Finns. Unlike their countrymen in the National Hockey League, they make music. Music that can be broadly defined as "Euro-tech" or "Techno-Euro" or whatever you want to call white boy tunes devoid of rock and roll. At least, that was my initial impression of Andexelt. After about twenty minutes, however, I realized that there were FLUTES in the mix, not to mention that rubber-band bass used to the point of abuse in 1970s jazz fusion. Strangely, it all seems to cohere. But Atari Teenage Riot it ain't.
Wait, I forgot to mention the George Winston-esque piano plinks. Could this record be an example of New Age music? I hope not, because I sort of like it and I detest New Age culture. It's probably a little too hard-edged and odd to appeal to the crystal-wearing set. Try to imagine the repetitive structures of Steve Reich, Philip Glass, and the like, translated into a heterogeneous context where the sounds of gurgling water are no more or less prominent than the feedback from an electric guitar. Is it worth buying? If you can get past a somewhat over-produced sheen to the tracks and your resistance to fusion (which is, BTW, once again hipper than hip) as an art form, you will probably get your money's worth. And if you feel the way I do about Finland, you will surely love it. Of course, you might be better served loving me. I need a Pen Pal.
Andexelt is available from Tumult Records