Kairon; IRSE!: shoegazers with a noisy spirit
"Polysomn" is the third album by the Finnish shoegazers with a band name that's both hard to pronounce and type: Kairon; IRSE!. You know the drill: they've played at the legendary Roadburn festival, their label is the underground treasury Svart Records and they share their almanac with Oranssi Pazuzu.
What could be the most ridiculous, clichéd and pretentious name for a post-rock band? Probably millions of music nerds around the globe have entertained themselves making up faux band names while listening to music and perhaps enjoying a beer. But little did Niko Lehdontie and Lasse Luhta know that one peculiar day in 2009, laughing as the other one spelled out Kairon; IRSE! – a name that would soon backfire on them.
The two guitarists were studying at Kaustinen, a municipality with a population of 4300 in Central Ostrobothnia. The village is the home of the biggest folk music festival in the Nordics, Kaustinen Folk Music Festival, founded in 1968. But during the other 51 weeks of each year there's not much to do, says Lehdontie.
Fortunately for this twosome, the Kaustinen institute had class rooms for rehearsing and a studio – free to use at any time of day. There Lehdontie and Luhta stumbled across two other likeminded musicians. Bass player and vocalist Dmitry Melet and drummer Johannes Kohal shared their love for vintage rock in its various forms, like hazy krautrock and indie bands like Radiohead and My Bloody Valentine.
"And when we started playing together, we had the band name in our sleeve already", Lehdontie grins recalling the moment Kairon; IRSE! was born in 2009.
Self-confidence and fearlessness
Niko Lehdontie is also a member in the sinister but psychedelic post-black metal outfit Oranssi Pazuzu (read more here), and the collaborative project Waste of Space Orchestra (which we covered here). The stoner doom band Domovoyd, which is on an indefinite hiatus, is his and Dmitry Melet's band. Melet on the other hand plays post-rock as a part of the Horte line-up.
"There are challenges in scheduling it all", Lehdontie admits, but denies that there would be hierarchies among these bands.
But autumn 2020 is dedicated to Kairon; IRSE!, who released their third album Polysomn in September. The quartet's debut offering Ujubasajuba (2014) introduced a band jamming comfortably, while still remaining a shoegazey fundament. With its over-10-minute-tracks, their sophomore album Ruination (2017) wondered into almost jazzy ja proggy directions, in the vein of early King Crimson. Polysomn now cranks up the amps and floors the pedals back to My Bloody Valentine settings.
"Ruination was an experiment. Looking back now, it seems lack something, both sound and song wise", Lehdontie explains.
"Polysomn" descends in a dreamlike atmosphere, but instead of sleepy it's energetic. And there are pop songs under the surge and roar.
"This time we wanted to study if we could compose songs that are more compact, with our aesthetics and our sound palette. We've gained enough self-confidence to try and express ourselves in a catchier way", the guitarist continues.
"Polysomn descends in a dreamlike atmosphere, but instead of sleepy it's energetic. And there are pop songs under the surge and roar."
Lehdontie talks a lot about the moods that their music summons: melancholy, fearlessness and acceptance. He describes Melet's singing as just one of the instruments on the album. The lyrical themes are abstract and the way they were written on Polysomn is rather peculiar.
"We composed the lyrical parts in gibberish. Then we played the demos of three songs to Jenna Haapaharju, whose poems we admire. She wrote the lyrics matching the phonetics and the pacing", Lehdontie depicts.
The most underlining example is found on the album's first single "An Bat None".
"It has this artificial intelligence theme. And the lyrics are written on a partially broken English. As a joke, we called it "Boten Anna" (a reference to the 2006 eurodance hit by Swedish artist Basshunter) during the demo phase and ended up using an anagram version as the actual name: 'An Bat None'!"
Spreading the word
Kairon; IRSE! hasn't played a proper gig in two years. Not after touring in support of their album Ruination, when they stopped for example to play the legendary Roadburn festival in the Netherlands. Kairon; IRSE! was supposed to be touring Europe this fall, but Covid-19 postponed the plans.
"We'll see when we can make it there. We are mainly a band that enjoys making records, but the proper way to celebrate a record is of course playing live. The current situation sucks but it is what it is", Lehdontie says.
Touring is essential for an underground rock band for spreading the word about their music. Neither rave reviews nor word of mouth can't replace the connection with an audience and the impression made on stage. And the underground ethos pulsates in the impatient musician:
"We'll play anywhere and bring our noisy soundscapes with us as soon as it's possible", Lehdontie states.