Friday, June 27, 2014

Crossing the Boundaries

Mikki Kauste has been writing music for Egotrippi for at least 15 years. Like any ambitious songwriter, he has probably never aimed to write only certain type of music, such as music to meet the conception of what is suitable for Egotrippi – not that “suitable for Egotrippi” is even easy to determine in the first place. As Mikki developed as a songwriter, new influences began to manifest themselves in his compositions. At some point he noticed he had written a bunch of songs that he didn't think would suit Egotrippi but he didn't feel like giving them to other artists either. Mikki decided to go solo.

The result was an album called Lintumies, released in May 2013. The album has been labeled as schlager music and while certain songs (Turmio, Oisin kerrankin mies, Rakkauden roinaa) sound very much like schlager, there are also other things such as timeless intimate pop ballads, following in the footsteps of the Walker Brothers' orchestrated grandiosity: Prologi (Lintumies), Pyydät liikaa, and Hyvästi Amsterdam.

Mikki has described his vision as pop music expanded towards grandiose Anglo-American pop á la Dusty Springfield, old Finnish schlager, Italian schlager, and French chanson. Also fascination towards old jazz has surely influenced Mikki's melodic sensibility. Even his jangly power pop song Tie from the 2011 Syksyn sävel song contest fits the album both musically and thematically. In a way Lintumies is a real crossover album, showing that different musical styles can easily be put together because they all have certain common roots in the golden decades of pop music.

So, what if this music had been released as an Egotrippi album? The audience would probably have been quite surprised, even confused, even though Egotrippi has been pushing its musical (and lyrical) boundaries during the past ten or more years. I do understand the decision to release the Lintumies material as a solo album. It was time for Mikki to show what he can do without his band – and he shines like never before.

Lintumies is a truly high-quality, coherent, intimate album full of timeless melodies. I am especially impressed by the heavenly ballads. The album lyrics are really good but Mikki's voice expresses much more than any words could ever do. Mikki is a really distinctive vocalist and he has been getting better and better throughout the years. On this album he is free from all boundaries, resulting in his most heartfelt renditions.

Somehow I get the feeling that this is only the beginning. Coming next, a jazz album? A chanson album? My expectations are getting high!


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