Vuk is a Finnish/US group well really it's this girl who borrows her mates, as and when, to make some extraordinary music. She is basically an experimental artist, playing all sorts of instruments and other sound making objects, but mainly her distinctive pump organ. Exploring in-the-world and out-of-the-world themes of connection and experience, working within ghost versions of blues and gospel and chanson and various other forms. Her curiosity seems limitless; she seems willing to make use of sounds and styles from anywhere. Vuk's music conjures up detached and distanced moods, often old pains or wistfully remembered joys. The main reward of listening to Vuk's songs is surprise; surprise sometimes at hearing familiar kinds of song go in odd directions disassembling your ideas, or simply surprise at the pictures and worlds she makes out of such simple sounds. Two albums: the first, Exile!, dates back to 2003, and The Plains which would have been with us before now, if her record company hadn't 'imploded', as she put it. In the meantime, an ep of covers of Finnish band Maj Karma was released, though only in Finland. It seems a deal has been done to release The Plains this April. So glad to hear that, a lot of people put a lot of love and care into it.
Albums and EP
How on earth can I list an album which doesn't exist? Well, it does, in a way. It's recorded, and has been lying around unreleased for some time. However, it is due at last 22 April. Should I be crossing my fingers about that? I've already paid for it, so I feel confident enough to count an egg or two, if not an actual whole chicken. You can hear some of the album tracks there. My favourite of the ones currently up is Flint In The Pines. I keep going back to listen to these songs. But I really, really want to have the proper shiny disk in my hands, and if the rest of the songs are as intoxicating, seductive and intriguing as the first few then it will be a thing to treasure indeed.
The Flames of Love: Vuk plays Maj Karma - 'flames': maybe with the sense of flames which burn you as well as of the fire of passion. Here (Oct 2008) is Vuk's ep of covers of songs by Maj Karma. I'd never heard of them, and probably assumed they were kindred spirits from the experimental art side of rock. Forgetting how much cross fertilisation goes on in Finland. When I drifted over to YouTube and played the originals of a couple of these songs, I nearly fell off my chair. Hard rocking stuff; and yet Vuk's very different take does work. Five songs, of which you can hear Salassa kuin murhat on her MySpace page. I know she says that's her favourite, but I quite took to some of the others. Elena Leeve opens the disk with some delightful tinkling on the kantele. I like Rukous too, it's quite hypnotic. Oh, it means 'prayer'. Well, after a few plays I've warmed to it nicely, it has a compelling feel and she does perform very well. A very welcome mini-album, while waiting for The Plains to appear.
(2003) I heard those songs from The Plains first, but as soon as I saw there was an earlier album, I had to get it. It wasn't a simple business, but in the end I simply had to wait a bit. It was worth it. Apart from the crack in the case, which is a postal hazard, it's a very pretty cd. Exile! itself took a while longer to do a meld with my mind. But it gradually made space for itself in strange and dusty parts of my head. ...read more
Cafe Oto, London
It pains me so, so much to have to lead with a MySpace link, but the fact is that there's more about Vuk here than anywhere else. Upcoming gigs, a blog, and as noted above, some lovely songs from the second album...
Johanna Kustannus looked after ep The Flames of Love and are now releasing second album The Plains. This is her artist's page at their site, from which you can buy these two disks. It's a major independent record label in Finland, and the site is worth looking around for a flavour of diverse other Finnish acts ...Maj Karma, for instance.
Vuk has this site, but it's a placeholder really. It's liberally decorated with irrelevant banners, all a bit of a shame, because she glaringly has it in her to design something very nice indeed. The MySpace link goes as soon as she makes herself a decent site!
I didn't explore far enough to figure out what Virb was, but apart from a streamed song, there are a few of her photographs, some excellent black and white efforts, and I'm always a fan of that. Can we have more please
An 'interview' from a while ago, even if it is one of those standard formula questionnaires. 'Emily from Vuk' is very interesting in this, talking about her processes and development, and Finnish music.