Music is a puzzle for Marko Nyberg, the creative force behind Finnish band Husky Rescue. He adds elements and instruments in layers upon layers, until soon he has something akin to a perfect drug. Soon you find yourself blissfully intoxicated, awash in Nyberg’s creation of deftly orchestrated drums, guitars, synthesizers and sterling vocals, as with the hypnotic “New Light of Tomorrow” on new release Country Falls.
“I just get a certain mood in a small universe,” Nyberg says, from his home in Finland, about his creative process. “Then I start puzzling. I don’t sit down and play guitar or piano or anything. I just have a paper and start drawing something, customizing good pieces to put together.”
That puzzling was enabled by the individual recording of each sound track on the electronica heavy album. Over the course of the recording process, Nyberg invited 20 of his best musically-inclined buds to his backyard studio and started laying down pieces.
“That’s been for me a way of working all the possibilities, organizing them differently,” he says. “It gives me lots of freedom.”
The end result of Country Falls is a kind of electronica throwback album. While synthesizers take care of the heavy lifting, tracks like “Summertime Cowboy” and “City Lights” meld in flecks of funky, fuzzy riffs thrown forward from the ’70s days of disco. Such snippets invite the thought that Nyberg’s puzzle is really some sort of disco ball Rubik’s Cube.
Musically Nyberg lists Johnny Cash and Paul Simon among his influences, along with 19th century French composer Erik Satie, though he draws much of his inspiration from art and cinema. Among those influences is director David Lynch, who looks as though he could have directed the video for “City Lights” himself. (Think the scene from “To Die For,” when Nicole Kidman dances in front of the car, only turn her character into an impossibly sexy, fire-wielding angel.)
The only thing puzzling about the finished songs is how they’ve managed to stay below the music world’s radar. They are at once simple and complex, disorienting and reassuring. Nyberg once described the contrast as “Bambi meets the Big Bad Wolf and they become friends.”
“It’s a mixture of different kinds of music,” he says. “I find that inspiring. Trying to find the contrast gives me ideas.”
With the delicate vocals of Reeta-Leena Korhola, they’ve drawn comparisons to Beth Hirsch and French group Air. A more familiar comparison might be Zero 7’s effort “In the Waiting Line” off the highly regarded Garden State Soundtrack. In fact, Nyberg’s music would fit right in on such a cd, as images and stories appear unbidden in your head with the album’s every note.
Nyberg admits that the live show is a bit of a “translation” from the studio album, but the Aug. 9 show at Jammin’ Java, part of the band’s first-ever U.S. tour, should carry enough pieces from Nyberg’s ingenious puzzle to make it more than worthwhile.
“Ten Minutes with Kansas”
The News-Press’s Maggie McKenna recently chatted with Kansas guitarist Rich Williams to discuss their latest project, a CD/DVD anthology titled Works In Progress, and their current tour.
Maggie McKenna: How did the new anthology come about?
Rich Williams: The record company wanted an anthology and we wanted to be a part of it if they were going to do it. It was quality control – which materials from which album. It was hands-on and it became a Kansas project rather than a record company project.
MM: You’re currently on tour. How is that going?
RW: The tour is going great. July and August have been busy months, but we’re self-managed so we make our schedule. We play Fridays, come home Saturdays and we’re with our families the rest of the week. We’re touring on a bus so it’s kind of like being away at camp. And playing more tightens up the band.
MM: What’s a typical day on the road like for you guys?
RW: We’ve been doing a lot of outdoor shows lately, so those are pretty hot. Right now we just flew from Minneapolis to Lansing (Mich.) because our bus left without us. We were stuck on the tarmac in Detroit on the plane with no air conditioning – it had to be 120o on the plane. It was a day spent in heat and claustrophobia, so I just jumped in the shower and went to bed. I got up at 5:30 this morning to do laundry, and then we have a 600 mile drive to Baltimore. It’s not for everybody, but you get used to it. Now it seems normal to me. If you’re a musician, it’s what you look forward to. The show is the best part of the day.
MM: Any plans for an album of new material?
RW: We’re booked into November, but we’ve gotten lots of offers to do new material. It’s a hopeful maybe for next year.
MM: Any advice for struggling musicians?
RW: There’s so much luck involved in the music industry. It’s important that you have the ability to get along with others. You need to be able to roll with the punches. A big head and big attitude is hard to work with; you need to be a team player, which can be hard because musicians can have egos. Traveling and not complaining is important, and don’t take it for granted. Every day is a blessing.
Kansas will play the Birchmere (3701 Mt. Vernon Ave., Alexandria) at 7:30 p.m. on August 9. More information is available at kansasband.com or birchmere.com.