Dum Funks

Tony Marcus, New Musical Express, 2 September 1995

Kim Rapatti aka MONO JUNK is an analogue junkie. He loves those old machines, those sci-fi boxes covered with knobs, dials and words like phase shifter, reverberator and pulse glider. He loves the sounds they make and the way youcan create synthetic eternities with just a flick of a switch.

"I like turning all the knobs and stuff when I am recording. I like to improvise and make tracks live. And the sound on the analogue stuff is much warmer and better than an digital. I just love it."

For the uninitiated, an analogue synth is a machine designed to turn raw electric current into sound. To use it you twirl the knobs to generate and control noises. It's a bit like playing a game. For some reason it's the number one techno sport in Finland where's Kim's Dum label and Helsinki's Sähkö Recordings release endless analogue tracks. Kim reckons it's got something to do with the weather.

"In summer I don't touch the machines," he says, "but when winter comes it's so cold you can't go outside for days. So you're home all the time, so you do music. What else is there to do when it's minus 30 outside with only a few hours of daylight. It goes on like that for months."

Kim and fellow Dum artists like Coopers escape the ice by making and mutating noise on their machines. Sometimes you can dance to their stuff - when the blips and pulses are arranged in rhythms. Sometimes they just let their machines moan and groan like suicidal robots. Kim's own Mono Junk seems to specialise in such space-age misery. His debut album, after all, is called Gloom.

"I used the title because my sounds are so dark and sad," explains Kim, "maybe it's because during the winter the days are so dark and short. When I'mwith my friends I'm very happy but leaving that aside I think I'm a very sad person, very gloomy. Maybe you would be too if you were here for the winter."

It's not all that bad though. Some of his tracks spin minimal melodies over the deep beats and his rhythms capture the twitchy funk of Derrick May and Juan Atkins, the innovators who first inspired him to make music.

And something must be going right for him; he's been able to quit his day job at Levi's to concentrate on buying old machines, making noises, cutting tracksand running Dum. He's also setting up a label with Sähkö called Upo (named, bizarrely, after a leading Finnish fridge manufacturer) to release newlocal artists.

"No, it's not all that bad," agress Kim, somewhat grudgingly, "but I still wish the winters weren't so long."

Come on, chill-out man.

Copyright © 1995 NME

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