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The second installment in the series of Ajattara's christmas singles, the Joulu-single 2005, is the one that turned the one-off Ilon Juhla into a tradition that has already weathered four holiday seasons and seen Ajattara's dramatic and unfortunate line-up change in 2007.
This time there's no drunken joke to bypass, but two really solid tracks to enjoy. The first one is again a truly dark song. "Teuras" translates to slaughter animal, and the lyrics of the intense song fit the title perfectly.
Would you like to be the slaughter animal
that prays in front of me?
I came alone,
I'll leave alone,
To the darkness your path will lead
...that sounds so much better in Finnish. But once again, Ruoja says dark things in a pitch-black way, with old-fashioned Finnish. The song, while still basically simple in the classical Ajattara way, is a bit exceptional. The sound, blackened as before, has gained a lot of meat around its shattered bones, and the originally dry Ajattara has turned into a meaty wall of sound. A meaty wall that invites the listener to smash a hammer into it and enjoy. The sound was to turn into a downtuned bath of slurry a year and a half later on Kalmanto, but here it still works, even if it turned away from the classical simple and earthly Ajattara sound.
The second track, Kansallispäivä, is an odd but very successful cover choice. It's the only cover in the single series that has no connection to Christmas on any level. Sielunveljet was an artsy, almost avant-garde rock band of the 80's and early 90's. They sung in Finnish, and their works varied from the odd and aggressive to virtual drugged haze and utter strangeness. Kansallispäivä ("National Day") tells a story of a revolution, but what a story it is!
One of them is beating the face of the other with a newborn baby,
The third is grinning and driving an old truck
The combination of Ajattara's choice of a monotonous, almost marching beat with heavy, almost suffocating rhythm thumping, and the drug-infused, hallucinating lyrics is a surprisingly effective way to cover the song. Once the President, stung in his/her crotch by an STP Ant, starts to melt into the flower wallpaper after his bloodstream takes the toxins into his brain, and meets some pretty decent folks there, and brings a victory in an unspecified fight by using a mighty weapon, the listener can only imagine the drug-haze that spawned the insane poetry.
Now I shall tell you everything
I usually keep my mouth shut on
It's a great feast of death today
Just like tomorrow and yesterday, too
Disordered... and confused
The song, with the insanity infused into the lyrics, creates an atmosphere that reeks of hallucination, unreal visions and, oddly, a kind of grandeur. The closest parallel can, strangely, be found in an unsuccessful movie. Sky Captain And the World of Tomorrow can by no means be considered a success, either a critical of a financial one, and the movie is at its best an amusing flick worth watching once. But the value of the movie, and probably the origin of the whole idea, is in the first twenty minutes, in the scene that takes place in a crowded, grey city, with bleak and dark colours: the march of the giant robots. I'm willing to bet that the alien feeling of the scene, the claustrophobic and dreamlike atmosphere was what originally gave birth to the whole script in someone's head, so powerful is the vision, and so detached from the rest of the mediocre flick it seems.
Explaining the connection between the two is virtually impossible to explain, but the thumping heartbeat of the song, the strange vision of the crazy lyrics, and the unstoppable marching of the emotionless steampunk-slash-30's-future machines among the retro-futuristic city bear a similar strangeness in them. It cannot be stopped, it's something from a suffocating nightmare brought to existence with a non-serious edge, and it's tempting, for the lack of a better word. Try both of these items, and see if you can understand what I mean...