9 May 2010

Ben Butler and Mousepad Helsinki 08/05

I went to see Ben Butler and Mousepad last night at Myymala2 gallery in Helsinki. Also playing were Samuel Meri and Yön Syke, backed up by DJ Amön Dude.

The space itself is small and homely art gallery with adjoining comic and record store, and proved to be an excellent gig venue: something akin to a living room gig and all the DIY intimacy that encompasses.

Armed only with his voice and an acoustic guitar Samuel Meri provided an engaging opening set. His voice struggled in the higher ranges, but otherwise possessed a soft baritone warmth. His ragged and simple guitar playing betrayed a fairly sophisticated approach to songwriting. My rather basic grasp of Finnish didn't allow great appreciation of his lyrics but my girlfriend Sari assures me that they were beautiful.

Next on the bill, Yön Syke served up some sparse 80's electronica. Rocking an austere vintage Russian electronic drum kit, drummer Jaakko kept the crowd moving (well me at least- I've yet to see a Finn moved enough to dance, even by the almighty Kraftwerk or Grace Jones) with his crisp analog beats, whilst bassist Ukko augmented the rhythm with simple, syncopated lines. Synthesist and vocalist Sami dutifully completed the sparse sound with delay-assisted pads, vocoder and melody lines. They also deserve a medal for the worst, completely un-ironic 7" packaging ever!

Ben Butler and Mousepad played an intricate and energetic set, with Joe's virtuosic synth noodling supported by Bastian's block-rocking, dynamic beats. Supported by some Ableton backing tracks, Joe leapt between three small synths, his glasses strapped firmly to his head (this proved to be a good move - boy that kid can rock a synth). I'm now convinced he's Bernie Worrell's lovechild. Bastian navigated the music's fruity approach to meter and song structure with gusto and fine grimaces. It's always refreshing to hear a band with such an engaging and original voice, and I'm eagerly anticipating their forthcoming EP on Norwegian Skwee label Dødpop and LP on Lo Recordings.

Ben Butler and Mousepad Myspace

Joe's Blog
Joe Howe website

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