Modern baroque pop characterized by an infusion of orchestral arrangements and electroacoustic elements within an indie pop setting.
In July 2009, singer/songwriter Markus Perttula played his guitar in a sunny yard in Turku. He was performing as a warm-up act for Finnish artist Eleanoora Rosenholm. Still, many in the audience came especially to hear Markus sing. One of these people was Jani Lehto, who had already received appraisal with his previous acts Déclassé and Star You Star Me. Jani was now seeking for a singer for his new project that aimed to capture and mix the delicacies of orchestral chamber pop with the extrovert confidence built from a fusion of acoustic indie and rock. After the show, the two musicians met and quickly found mutual ambitions and ideals in music. Markus had his beautiful voice, great songs and a name for the new band. In the following week they recorded their first songs. This is how Sans Parade came to be. Suddenly and without a warning, just like their name implies. To the band members, however, the road towards a finished album has been everything but sudden…
The discography of Jani Lehto began to form in the end of the ’90s, when his hometown Turku housed a vast and restless field of electronic music. At that time, his starting point was the happy and collective atmosphere of house music parties. The beginning of the new millennium, however, took him further away from these innocent and carefree times that were marked by deep but subtle sequencer patterns, alongside with his bands at the time, a disco house duo Star You Star Me and later a darker electro pop band Déclassé. The final branch in this personal evolution is now Sans Parade. From the optimistic one-liner vocal loops of his house period, Jani’s music has evolved into nuanced stories and from synthesizers to acoustic instruments, in which every small crack in the wood and the pressure of the player’s fingers create their unique sound.
“A Ballet in the Sea is a great example of what I wanted to do. Everything is based on a text and the text is based on a story – real events that I happened to witness. The artistic solutions aren’t based on overt cleverness or wit. They are based on rejecting and accepting the musical solutions that actually tell something about the reality the song conveys. From the songs in the upcoming album, A Ballet in the Sea is perhaps the most straightforward and also has the shortest arc of events: everything was seen in ten minutes through a small window in a cruise ship cabin.
The atmospheric sounds in A Ballet in the Sea bravely combine studio equipment with the organic nature of acoustic instruments. On the rhythm track, every mallet hit on an empty tin box is different, but the final sound was actually their convolution with the sound of the inside of a 20 metre spherical gas container. The piano, on the other hand, is as honest as can be: the clangs and distorted resonances of the misused sixty-year-old instrument are clearly audible on the album and have also become a vital part of the piece, rather than some disturbances to be edited away.
The use of sheer force is also important to Sans Parade. At times, when it’s impossible to express yourself poetically, you need to shout.”
Markus Perttula was born into a family of musicians. His blue-walled home in Southern Ostrobothnia was filled with instruments: a grand piano, a spinet, a small church organ, violins, a trumpet, etc. At the age of nine, Markus started classical music training with double bass as his main instrument. A career in music took a turn, when Markus moved to Turku, to study English instead. Also, the double bass couldn’t fit into his dorm room, so an old nylon string Landola borrowed from home made its way to Markus’ life. This led to a creative burst in songwriting alongside extensive performances with different rock and folk ensembles. Having played Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Vocalise as the soloist of a full orchestra in his adolescence, it seemed like a natural step for Markus to now be a part of a group like Sans Parade, in which musicality of the pieces are highly developed to express the innermost feelings and meanings behind the seemingly romantic and existential matters.
The third driving force of Sans Parade is Pekka Tuppurainen. Pekka, a Stockholm dweller, has a different musical background from Markus and Jani with his involvement in jazz and improvisational scenes. Pekka’s previous work, extremely experimental jazz-based art music published by Ilma Records, received recognition and high praises among the professional circles. In Sans Parade sessions, Pekka has given an irreplaceable input to group dynamics, sometimes even leading to heated fights about the music’s direction and musical actions. The long struggle also took its toll: Pekka left the band for a short while just to return with more enthusiasm and motivation than before. Perhaps this struggle also worked as a binding force towards the completion of the creative process. It surely lifted Sans Parade above the average indie pop to a more inspiring level, still maintaining the immense beauty and accessibility of the band’s music.
Since the beginning of 2010, there have been eight musicians playing in the studio sessions, participating in this musical endeavour that spiralled into the monumental ocean of sound now known as Sans Parade. The band’s first demo songs were put online in the summer of 2011 and the first single was published in August 2012 by Solina Records.
The band have already made waves in the blogosphere and in other critical circles with their early promotional material. Stylistically, the music of Sans Parade is characterised by strong vocals, highly orchestral, lush instrumentation and swooning pop hooks; violins, cellos, brass section and more exotic acoustic instruments seamlessly mixed together with traditional analog synthesizers. The singer Markus Perttula gives a soulful performance full of intuitive swells and fades, his phrasing and pronunciation making his voice a purely sonic instrument. The strength of this set is founded on the clarity of a musical vision that transcends styles to create something utterly enthralling.