Thursday, May 12, 2011


(Avarus, Jarse, Mik Quantius and Tempel Solaire will play Garage X on May 20.)


Avarus’s Jättiläisrotta (giant rat) depicts five perfectly healthy band members, with ringleader Arttu “Amon Düde” Partinen either signalling his approval or hoping to hitch a ride. The scene also features a collection of disembodied heads belonging to other members of the collective, so it seems unlikely any vehicle would stop for this bunch. Will Avarus make it to Garage X?

Members of Avarus are involved with the Fonal and Lal Lal Lal labels, focal points of Finnish friendship and freak-out networks. These people are everywhere. How can Avarus itself, as an entity, leave the sidewalk that is obviously not their only habitat? Let’s focus on one particular mode of travel and consider the “Three Stages of Drunkenness” encountered prominently in the Jättiläisrotta press release:

Stage 1. “I wish I were drunk”

Stage 2. “I have to puke”

Stage 3. Jättiläisrotta

Stage 1 manifests desire and serves as entry point. While stage 2 might appear fairly dynamic, it can be conceptualized as territorial. Layers of vomit stratify the sidewalk. Arttu wants to hitch a ride, but he approves, too. Avarus’s music: positive, improvised, if necessary using balloons and inflatable guitars, is dynamic enough not to be shaped solely by territorial limitations. Slip onto this sidewalk as you pass by… Stage 3, the giant rat itself, is a parasite and happy to stay and enjoy its position, but don’t expect it to remain forever. It goes beyond, denotes what is hard to grasp. This rat will not be domesticated.

We need not reduce the giant rat to a mere effect of alcohol. If it keeps on moving, it is both a placeholder and a vehicle for the non-territorial. Like Avarus’s music, it is transporting. When it passes by, Avarus climb up its tail and throw rope ladders over the side. Sometimes Jättiläisrotta even becomes a beast of the sea, carrying its riders/manifestors across oceans, as it did for 2006’s amazing Terrastock 6 festival in Providence, Rhode Island, which showcased the band as part of an international network of adventurous, DIY-oriented musicians. Keeping in contact internationally through various shifting media over the years, they boldly go where no rat has carried anyone before.

Terrastock organizer Jeffrey Alexander has released Avarus albums on his Secret Eye label, and he will join Avarus on this tour (hopefully not as a disembodied head), ideally preparing the Viennese audience Rhode Island Coffeemilk Lattes. Arrive in one piece, Jeffrey. Vienna needs you!

Like rats conjoined by tails, Avarus may be confined to the stage; but musically, this rat king spreads plague, gyrating with punky krautrock rhythms or hovering, spewing not-quite-animal noises while, as their tour artwork suggests, a unicorn sits on a nearby cliff and excretes rainbows all over the place. You have been warned. Please attend.

(Poster by Royl Culbertson and Stefan Kushima)