Alternative electronic music group Serot bring out their second album on 3 February on Finnish label Arvo Records. Coming out on vinyl, the album Otava includes a digital download of both the original full-length songs and their special remixed versions. A union of three men with very different musical backgrounds – Ilari Kohtamäki (electronics and drum machines), Samuli Kivelä (loopers, guitar and synths) and Aleksi Kinnunen (drums) – Serot combine techno, organic acoustic elements and electronic dance music and have performed at a number of well-known Finnish festivals, including H2Ö, Bassline and Visio, over the years. Serot have both composed and produced the new album themselves but two A-listing Finnish jazz artists, trumpeter Verneri Pohjola and pianist Iiro Rantala, play an essential role on the new effort, infusing it with the signature coolness and edge of Scandinavian jazz.
Serot’s unique, genre-breaching sound comes into being in the meeting point of acoustic band-playing and DJ culture: drums, loopers, synths, samplers, drum machines and the guitar create a harmonious whole. Improvisation and collaboration with other artists play a part in Serot’s philosophy. The band co-produced their 2015 debut with well-known DJ -producers Kristiina Männikkö and Emma Valtonen, so recruiting Rantala and Pohjola to appear on the sophomore seemed both natural and fascinating to the band. It was Iiro Rantala’s group Trio Töykeät that originally worked as an introduction to jazz for the band members, so they were eager to find out what his input would bring to the new album. Collaboration with Verneri Pohjola, one of the most original and internationally known of Finnish contemporary jazzers, appealed to Serot due to the trumpeter’s signature concentrated, intense minimalism.
The core of the album consists of two hypnotically danceable pieces "Udu" and "Konto", creating a cinematic backdrop for Pohjola and Rantala’s soloism. The soloists’ own playing styles worked as a basis for the songs, and the album was constructed of the most intriguing bits and pieces captured in the studio during the recording sessions. Both acoustic and electronic instruments were used, and the tracks were pieced together, typically of electronic music, by editing and reworking different takes. Two more straight-ahead dance pieces, "Ava" and "Otne", were created using the same technique.
In addition to the originals, the album includes five remixes by international top producers Eduardo De La Calle (Spain), Emmanuel (Italy), Preslav (USA), nAX_Acid (United Kingdom) and Hoshina Anniversary (Japan). Besides the electronic sphere, Serot has drawn from such classical minimalists as Steve Reich, Philip Glass and Brian Eno, which can be detected in the strong visual power and cinematic atmosphere of the sophomore: “Otava is like a visual journey through Finland, from the industrial areas of Vallila to the windy coasts of the Arctic Sea”, says drummer Aleksi Kinnunen. The cover design is by graphic designer Lille Santanen, who is also known as one of the driving forces behind Helsinki’s underground techno scene. Indeed, his hand connects Serot to the characteristic aesthetics of Helsinki’s electronic music scene.
SEROT feat. Iiro Rantala & Verneri Pohjola: OTAVA
Arvo Records 2017 (ARV02/SEROT02, release date 3 Feb 2017)
Distribution: Supersounds Music (Finland & ) & Vinyl Distribution (Europe)
Udu (Club Edit) feat. Iiro Rantala Udu (Emmanuel Remix)
Konto (Club Edit) feat. Verneri Pohjola Konto (Eduardo De La Calle Remix)
The vinyl includes a digital download code for the following songs:
Udu Konto Ava Otne / Konto (Preslav Remix) / Udu (nAX Acid Remix) / Udu (Emmanuel Remix) / Konto (Eduardo De La Calle Remix)
Ilari Kohtamäki, samplers and drum machines / Samuli Kivelä, loopers, guitar and synths / Aleksi Kinnunen, drums / Verneri Pohjola, trumpet / Iiro Rantala, piano