The Emperor's New Clothes

Tatu Rönkkö & Kalle Kalima by Susann Jehnichen

We have a problem. "Lampen" describe their music as "post jazz". But Lampen is a rock band. And not a good one.

On Monday the Finnish duo "Lampen" with Kalle Kalima and Tattu Rönkkö played at Ost-Passage Theater Leipzig. The two play electric guitar and drums. They wear long hair, pants and shirt tightly cut and patterned alike. Perfect outfits to skate into the second half of life. 

They start right on time. You'd prefer to call them "the boys" - if it wasn't so disrespectful. Anyone who knew a band at school will remember the rehearsal room sessions and have an idea of the atmosphere in the room. It's just that nobody smokes pot and there's no tinnitus afterwards.

"Lamps" presents an Hour Of Rock. One quote is poured into the other. Often one has the idea to have heard something like that before. It sounds sometimes like backwards played solos of Hendrix and the Beatles, only forward. Sometimes like a The Doors intro, but eight minutes long. One guesses Hells Bells, Big River, Nirvana, Black Sabbath. To be acknowledged: Kalima can play like three people at once - two mediocre guitarists and another bass player. 

There is a lack of motivic ideas and volume. Anyone who tells you that this is about nuance is advised to listen to string quartets. There are always minutes when both nodding in the corner lose the thrust in free playing. These are then the jazz parts. A scratch on the cymbal, eyes closed and another guitar solo while standing - that's how you mimic music.There is also a loop station - which at least briefly provides a mysterious atmosphere.

But the situation is serious. "Lamps" are supposed to like rock and Kalima and Rönkkö are undoubtedly enormously capable musicians, but there is little exciting here. They sometimes lose themselves in clichés and the problem we know from jazz of so-called standards, the rehashing of old familiar things, meets us here again.

We have to take "post-jazz" at its word here. It's music that followed jazz. In other words, rock music. But to re-label something in order to provide for revaluation only works for a time. At some point it becomes clear that the emperor is not wearing any clothes.

One measures oneself against the genre in which one moves. "Lamps" permanently serves stereotypes of old and newer rock and at the same time gives away the advantages of the style. It lacks conciseness and urgency. Maybe just turning up the amp a bit would have helped.


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