The initial idea for Sans Parade’s second album was born, when we were making a music video for In a Coastal Town from the previous album. We were shooting at a location near a small rapid and, as we were setting up the camera on the bridge crossing it, we found some fragments of a torn letter. The shredded letter was probably thrown into the rapid, signifying the sad ending of a relationship, but the wind had blown some of those pieces onto the bridge. The text appeared to be written by a young girl who had been disappointed in love. As she was writing down her deepest feelings, she had decided that the target of her waning love was not worthy of her true emotions, so the letter had been cathartically destroyed – like in a ritual.
These disjointed pieces of sentences created an association with the libretto from Philip Glass’ Einstein On The Beach opera, which is a collection of wandering, cut-and-pasted pieces of text. So, the letter fragments started the whole Artefacts album process, as an accidentally found idea of love-letter-flavoured, Einstein-on-the-Beach-inspired art pop. And the very same letter fragments now end the finished album on the track “Letter Fragments Found on the Halinen Bridge”.
Other text fragments on Artefacts are, for example, overheard pieces of conversation from the nearby restaurant table, misspelled lines of computer programming languages, remains from abandoned country houses, religious quotes from TV entertainment and ancient Chinese proverbs.
All these fragments have somehow touched the life of the band members, given inspiration, gathered meanings and then fused into the musical content of the album. For example “Chinese Wisdoms on the Road to Jiuzhaighou” is an allegory - but a very precise one - of sights and feelings caused by travelling through the Sichuan region in China in autumn 2011.
Some compositions on the album are originated in the visual or cultural fragments. For example the track Hyperborea and its Kalevala-like soundscape and spacious instrumentation were inspired by Andrei Tarkovsky’s Andrei Rublev film’s dreamy pagan ritual scene. On the other hand, the soundscape of The Premises of a Life that Could Have Been Yours was born from the memories of comprehensive school morning assemblies and their semi-religious, moralising but obviously not very well-planned feeling. Those associations were then merged with the real world originated text fragments in order to create one of these auditive artefacts.
Band-wise, Sans Parade has now reduced the amount of musicians, but not the grandiosity of the sound. The album is completely performed by the core trio: the singing of Markus Perttula is accompanied only by instruments played by Perttula, Pekka Tuppurainen and Jani Lehto. Rhythm-wise the drummer and bass player have been replaced by energetic and emotional banging of a cheapo beginner’s drum kit, and occasional sequenced pulsating bass. Machines, most of them analogue, are now essential part of the sound and acoustic instruments are allowed to shine, with all their imperfections.
But the band’s limited crew hasn’t limited the musical forms.
Songwriting was based on sending ideas back and forth between the band members: Pekka in Stockholm, Sweden and Markus and Jani in Turku, Finland. Later, Markus moved to Helsinki and Jani bought a farmhouse in the countryside, forcing the band to communicate mainly even more through emails and not in the traditional band-in-a-rehearsal-room kind of way. But this is also one of the band’s strengths: they spend a huge amount of time analysing ideas and listening critically - they don’t just jam together and have fun. So the creative process is slow - and often very, very painful - but the end results are not shaped by typical collective band decisions and band arrangement formats.
In conclusion, the second album is a result of hard work and cannot be put into any genre. It is multifaceted, courageous and challenging piece of pop and art.
Sans Parade’s tracks