For the past decade, Mopo have brought a breath of fresh air into the Finnish jazz scene, gleefully mixing influences from folk, punk and the avant-garde and the carnival.
On their 10th anniversary EP, the trio delves into electronics and new melodic territory, showing that they’re not running out of steam anytime soon.
While last year’s Mopocalypse featured some subtle synthesizer touches, this time all three band members play electronic keyboards while Linda Fredriksson’s saxophone remains the main solo instrument – setting up a fascinating counterpoint of organic and synthetic that’s become a theme of improvised music this past decade.
A Night in Zetor, inspired by a tractor-themed bar in Helsinki, churns along with slow mechanical beats – perhaps on a neighbouring farm to one where accordionist Kimmo Pohjonen experimented with the sounds of agricultural machinery. Fredriksson plays the haunting theme and variations with a subtly romantic tinge as Eeti Nieminen’s drums ebb and flow.
At nearly seven minutes, the digital-only Jauzaa is the longest track, and the most ethereal and tantalising. Fredriksson keeps a low profile, repeating a simple baritone pattern over an unhurried electronic terrain as koto twangs and a violin-like solo drift in and out, evoking David Bowie’s Moss Garden and the ambient side of 1980s King Crimson.
Die Mopo is the most lightweight of the three tracks and the most typically Mopo, with a bouncy electronic groove and hummable tune suggesting an old TV show or video game theme, ending in a barnburner of a sax solo. This is the sound of a band bursting with life and new ideas as it begins its second decade.
Linda Fredriksson (alto & baritone sax, keyboard)
Eero Tikkanen (electric bass, keyboards, synthesizer)
Eeti Nieminen (drums, percussion, drum machine, keyboards)
MOPO: MOPO10 (EP)
2019 We Jazz WJ07M10
(Live: 7.11. Sarajevo, 21.11. Lahti, 22.11. Turku, 29.11. Oostende)