Elin päivästä päivään
A3 Elin päivästä päivään
B2 Armahda meitä
The sixth solo album by the Circle leader Jussi Lehtisalo comes out in the darkest days of the COVID winter of 2020–2021. Its title Elin päivästä päivään (“I Lived One Day at a Time”) is the Finnish title of the classic French 1958 film Montparnasse 19, a tale of a tortured artist, based on the last years of Amedeo Modigliani’s life. Lyrically, that’s what Jussi Lehtisalo’s new album is all about, but the events take place in Pori, a provincial Finnish town on the northern edge of Europe instead of Paris. And unlike in Jacques Becker’s movie, the main character is not a starving bohemian genius, but a successful middle class “master of alternative arts”, as Lehtisalo describes himself with typical Finnish self-deprecating humour on the album’s opening track.
Apparently the Becker film was one of the all-time favorites of Jean-Luc Godard, and this further reinforces the impression that Lehtisalo has taken a big new step in his long process of demystifying rock in a Godardian/Brechtian way. Aptly and probably unwittingly his new music resembles latter-day Gang of Four, who pioneered such devices of demystification as the use of spoken meta-commentary interspersed with traditionally sung lyrics. There are ripping distorted guitars, but also synthetic rhythms that border on production music for TV and corporate videos; even soulful female vocals are in Lehtisalo’s mix, too. These vocals by an entity called Flyygel truly bring this style into 2020. Flyygel’s breathy R&B interjections and their English lyrics seem to be woven into the tracks’ fabric with the uncanny and surreal logic of Google’s AI.
The meta-commentaries mentioned above are provided by another striking character, played by Lehtisalo himself and possibly acting as his alter ego: a Finnish redneck/everyman who speaks exaggeratedly slow in a heavy Pori dialect with a deep “toxic masculine” voice. His uniformly ridiculous phrases could be things overheard in passing in Pori – or in the artist’s head, when the character mocks musical decisions made during the album’s recording. Most vocals, however, are Lehtisalo’s sincere, diaristic impressions of everyday life of a frustrated avant-rock musician, delivered in Lehtisalo’s Dr Jekyll singing style, a fresh-faced choirboy sound with detours to rockabilly yelping or mumble rap in a couple of songs. On top of all the meta levels the album is full of carefully crafted melodies which do nothing to lessen the fact that this is the most hilariously funny release by Jussi Lehtisalo ever!