“Something new borns when something old dies”

Back in the good old 1990s, before the internets had destroyed modern man’s inner strength and courage, there was this super-duper mad serious power-trio from Finland called Kingston Wall. I don’t know much about what their band name is referring to, but they were at the cosmic source of really excellent psychedelic rock music. What’s funny is I never really liked classic rock or ’60s psychedelic rock bands or jams. They just never did it for me– they never tickled my moustache. And honestly, I think once I got to a certain age it became so damn popular among my peers to like mainstream classic rock bands that I detested the image associated with it too. Classic rock got so en vogue it stopped trying to rebel, and became a genre of unevolving potheads.

But Kingston Wall is something else. They are the psychedelic rock band. I was thinking about how Petri Walli (singer/guitarist/songwriter in Kingston Wall) really sweated Hendrix and all the well-known classic rock stuff. I see those pictures of him playing with one of those frayed Hendrix jackets or covering Hendrix songs and my instinct is to roll my eyes, because that’s like, so overdone, maaannnn. But Walli was the real deal. He was more serious than not only all the dopey kids playing classic rock covers, but he was even more dedicated and profound than the original classic rock bands. He has some of the sickest wah pedal action this side of Steve Vai’s 7-string, triple-neck, V8 manual transmission Ibanez rig.

I’m being quite honest here. Walli’s music is insightful and contemplative and has a unique vibe to it that no other bands can emulate. There’s a slightly melancholy yet inspiring feeling to it, kind of like Amorphis, but a less straightforward song structure and much more improvisation among the musicians. It’s very organic sounding and full of atmospheric guitar layers. It also isn’t metal, it’s much more straightforward rock. The only reason I could imagine this music not becoming widely popular with “DMB” or poppy hippie music fans or whatever (sorta the way Elliott Smith has become) is that it has really significant substance and a serious sort of existential contemplation comes across in the music, even though it’s presented in this really friendly, accessible lay-man’s language. And most importantly, they were a Finnish band, which apparently isn’t buzzworthy in the U.S. music biz unless you write chiptunes for Timbaland to steal.

Timbaland got nothing on these Finnish rogues

Kingston Wall recorded three albums, one per year from 1992 to 1995. They are creatively titled ‘I’, ‘II’, and ‘Tri-logy’. Although the first album has the brilliant 20-minute “Mushrooms Suite”, (about tripping balls) I think the album that I’ve listened to the most over the years is Kingston Wall II. The recording is more polished and higher budget than the first album and the songwriting is extremely tight. I love the way the bass just walks all over the place during, “And It’s All Happening”. I also feel like it’s the most balanced album in terms of the three albums’ respective moods.

Magic carpets are pretty legitimate businessDjinn with a turban is totally killing my buzz

Kingston Wall’s third album, Tri-logy is probably the darkest of the three and is striking in the fact that the album leans in an ambient/electronic dub direction. The second to last song on the third album is a 16-minute epic called “The Real Thing” about how when a really hot chick walks into the room, you’ve gotta be all suave when you talk to her. You gotta whisper things in her ear and be a real creepy Finnish guy. ‘Cause she’s the real thing. I’m not kidding here. This music is that legit.

Pyramid with an eye is totally killing my boner

‘Tri-logy’ also includes the lyrical ideas of a counter-cultural Finnish “mystic” of questionable integrity, Ior Brock. It’s really quite interesting – the whole album runs through without breaks between tracks and invokes something of a trance along the way, explaining how the continents came into existence via the “family” legends of this guy Brock, who Walli was at least somewhat acquainted with personally. You know what, just read the damn Wikipedia entry. I’m not writing essays for you people.

Unfortunately, the albums are quite difficult to find. I have not seen them in print since I first started listening to the band around six years ago. I’ve heard you can find some albums through European websites, but I’ve never seen those sites in English. I’ll buy the rest of these albums in a second if someone can point the way to them, so drop me a line if you can. Maybe I’ll take a gander at the music stores in Scandinavie when I’m there and see if this stuff is around town. Since I have never seen this music in print, I’m gonna put some mp3s up here, and without the usual shame that accompanies being awesome like Robin Hood. I’VE NO REGARD FOR LAW, BISHES.

Kingston Wall – With My Mind – I
Kingston Wall – On My Own (Mushrooms Part II) – I

Kingston Wall – And It’s All Happening – II
Kingston Wall – Two of a Kind – II

Kingston Wall – Take You to Sweet Harmony – Tri-logy
Kingston Wall – When Something Old Dies – Tri-logy
Kingston Wall – Alt-Land-Is – Tri-logy

I feel like maybe Walli was something of a solitary guy and this was expressed through his music. His lyrics are charming because they convey a great deal of folk wisdom and melancholy while once in a while using really fun english: “Something new borns when something old dies.” Preach it, you fucking wizard. As the cliche goes, sometimes really creative people are alienated by their insights, especially when they’re the only ones who experience them. With someone who does a lot of psychedelic drugs, I think these problems would only increase. Psychedelic insights would probably be relevant only to other psychedelic drugs users and would be hard to organize and concentrate into one’s work and daily life in a self-satisfying way. I think maybe this is responsible for some of the melancholy that comes across in Kingston Wall, but it is expressed in a way that is characteristic of genius. Here an entire universe is created for the listener which is unexplainable in language. It is a personal transmission of Walli and co.’s exploration into psychedelic insights and their interpretation of Eastern mysticism, all filtered by a Finnish social/cultural background.

Kingston Wall is separated from the capitalist drive that had previously exploited and alienated the psychedelic and classic rock trend. These guys loved Grateful Dead, Hendrix and Pink Floyd imagery but I don’t think they were directly exposed to it via mainstream commercialism or peer influence. This is also pre-internet dark ages (as opposed to post-internet dark ages) so he didn’t find music online like all you lazy punks. Unfortunately, Petri Walli killed himself in 1996 by jumping from a tower in his hometown, a year after the band broke up and Walli took a trip to India. I think the circumstances and intentions of his suicide are still unknown.

But don’t misunderstand me, a lot of this music is very feel-good. Walli was clearly having a great time playing guitar and this comes across very strongly. Kingston Wall basically does the psychedelic rock genre justice, and is its champion. It is the source, the idea of psychedelic rock and I think it was never capitalized upon because a lot of people write it off as a ’60s classic rock homage. But that’s ok. It’s much more important that people like you and me know what this music is worth. And this music is rather precious.

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~ by chaosrexmachinae on July 24, 2007.

3 Responses to ““Something new borns when something old dies””

  1. Seems like you can get a few new/used copies through Amazon’s marketplace (not all cheap, but not all unreasonable)…

    Keep on preaching, you’re totally inspiring me!

  2. Hey, if you want to hear another great Finnish rock band, that will definately blow your mind, check out Havana Black and their album Indian Warrior!

  3. Oh my god i’m not sure how i found this but i completely agree with you! thanks for the music xxx

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