Sepi Kuu - Rannan Usvassa. 1980 Finland

One of the most tripped out albums from an era not known for it. Contained within are intense droning/narrative Finnish vocals, acoustic guitars, and flute along with searing fuzz/echo/phased guitars, synthesizers, and hand percussion. The overall vibe recalls the more serious tracks as found on Krautrock classics such as Walter Wegmuller's Tarot or Sergius Golowin's Lord Krishna Von Goloka. Comes completely out of left field, and is pretty much one of a kind, especially considering the time and place.

Personal collection
LP: 1980 Help
CD: 2015 Rocket

Single sleeve album and very scarce in original form. For as long as I've been collecting LPs, there really aren't that many albums that I personally discovered, but this is one of them. Or at least popularized it for the overall collector community. I was introduced to this album by a knowledgeable record store in Helsinki when I visited there back in 1993. I knew it was a special album the minute I heard it, and bought a few of them on the spot (and one was given to me as a gift). At that time, the album was a complete unknown, and I enticed well known dealers from around the world with it - and all reported back their satisfaction with the music. And as such, it had been on my CD reissue wish list for 22 years. Rocket finally came to the rescue, with their usual great job. Unfortunately the master tapes were lost, so it's not as pristine sounding as we would hope, but this is far better than not having a CD at all. There are liner notes (less than usual), and once again we've been treated to a full translation from our friend Kai (see below).

English translation of the Rocket liner notes. Once again, a huge thanks to Progressive Ears member Kai for these: "The Finnish music industry was going through a huge transition in the late 1970s. Record sales dropped dramatically with the onset of recession. This bankrupted many small Finnish record companies or forced them to stop releasing records.

Fewer records were sold, but consumption of recorded music changed, too. Of Finnish rock music styles, especially new wave punk and, briefly, rockabilly enjoyed chart success. At the same time, styles like progressive rock found their market niche shrinking more and more. Mainstream iskelmä music had been dominated by nostalgic dance music since the mid 1970s, but now it began to seek hits from more obvious pop numbers, such as Finnish covers of disco songs.

Amidst all this change, the music industry entrepreneur Jorma Heliander (1946 – 2013) set up his Tophits-Finnhits record label in 1978. The label only lasted until 1981, but it released a lot of dance music, cover versions of contemporary hits and rockabilly.

In 1980, Heliander set up another label, Heliander Production, in parallel with Tophits-Finnhits. The label operated for two years, releasing about twenty albums and a host of singles. Its greatest commercial success was the comedy album Iltaravit (The Evening Horse Races) which starred, among others, popular actor Heikki Kinnunen.

The most individual and undoubtedly least commercial album Heliander Production ever released was Sepi Kuu's Rannan usvassa (In the Mist of the Shore). Released in 1980 on vinyl only, Rannan usvassa had been recorded earlier that year in a bus converted into a recording studio. Juha Heininen was the recording engineer.

In the musical climate of 1980, the psychedelic folk rock of Rannan usvassa went almost totally against the grain. Some contemporary listeners may have been reminded of Pekka Streng's albums Magneettimiehen kuolema and Kesämaa from ten years earlier. They may have also found it dated at the time. Today it sounds arguably like an album ahead of its time. Its groundbreaking experimentalism and unconventionality have inspired and encouraged many experimental music makers in the 21st century.

Rannan usvassa is truly a solo album by Sepi Kuu (alias Teppo Lehto). He not only sang and played all the instruments but also composed and arranged all the songs and painted the cover. The lyrics were provided by artist and poet Mikko Tola (1954 – 1989).

Rannan usvassa garnered little attention on release. It never had a sequel either. Over time this record shop nightmare has become a much sought-after collector's item, with copies changing hands for as much as 600 Euros on international Internet auctions.

You are holding the first official re-release of Rannan usvassa. Shadoks Music will re-release the album on vinyl concurrently with this Rocket Records release. Unfortunately, these releases could not be made from the album master tape. It was destroyed in a fire at Jorma Heliander's house a few years ago. What you hear has been sourced and expertly mastered by Thomas Hartlage from a good-condition vinyl of Rannan usvassa."

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