For the best part of his career, spanning some forty years, Pekka Airaksinen's music can be said to have been ahead of its time. His current plans, too, reach far into the future. In the 80's he initiated a series of albums and compositions, each of which is dedicated to one of the thousand Buddhas in the Buddhist mythology. Probably the most prolific recording artist in Finland, at the moment he is "only" about a hundred Buddhas down.
Airaksinen is still mainly known for the controversial underground/performance group The Sperm, formed in 1967. He was responsible for the musical side of things of the collective, whose recordings mostly resemble the noise and industrial music of some ten years later rather than any of their contemporaries or Airaksinen's influences - who were mostly the classics of 50's and 60's electronic music, such as Cage and Stockhausen.
Things have changed so that in the current apprehensive climate of neo-conservativism most people don't like to reminisce about the struggles of those times and even if they do, time tends to have tinted the memories. In any case, some contemporaries testify to the fact that especially in their early years The Sperm waged a serious guerrilla war against the status quo in Finland and "the spirit of the Winter War" - one nation united against a common threat from outside. For this they chose a pro-drug, pro-sexual revolution rhetoric and a rather dadaistic sense of humour as weapons. Much like the revolution-minded students all over Europe in the late 60's, members of The Sperm were eager to be influenced by American free jazz, underground rock, and anarchist elements of the counter-culture like Yippies. After The Sperm disbanded in 1970, Airaksinen continued making experimental music, but this time he stayed in his recording studio. Together with a few ex-Sperm members he also participated in the exhibitions of the artist group Elonkorjaajat ("The Harvesters") with his psychedelic paintings.
What runs through the whole of Airaksinen's musical output is his idiosyncratic mode of expression; the disintegrating, out-of-sync rhythms, the intense dynamics, and the feverish visions. Unlike in most electronic music, his approach is unpolished, spontaneous, and improvisatory. The cosmic "electro-jazz" Airaksinen developed in the 80's, fusing bebop, free jazz and the 808 drum machine sound, still astonishes. During the following decade he incorporated some techno influences into his work, but filtered uncannily through his experiences and his Buddhist outlook on life.
Buddhism is ideal for Airaksinen: like the Dalai Lama, he is an unassuming,
venerable gentleman with a sense humour, to boot. He may make a deadpan
comment on the holy scriptures that recount the lives of the thousand
Buddhas that "they include statistics on the lives of the future
Buddhas", or that "they boast rather a lot of transgalactic
traffic" or, in just as light-hearted a way, he might downplay
half of his recent output as "trivial music". Even in the Sperm
days he never tried to push his own persona to the forefront; instead,
he often played behind the amps at concerts. For the last thirty years
he has steered clear of the media limelight.