Artificial Sheep

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The widespread positive response to ‘Lampedusa Lulla’, KUU!’s 2018 label debut on ACT, also gave rise to enthusiastic, imaginative and telling descriptions of the band’s music: “An alchemically complex jazz punk alloy. […] Really rather wonderful.” - Prog; “A raw, thorny mixture of punk attitude, electro - dance elements, eccentric fusion, and free jazz outbursts.” - All About Jazz

These plaudits drew attention to perhaps the most remarkable, unexpected, maybe even paradoxical thing about KUU! (meaning ‘moon’ in Finnish): that this unique quartet - singer Jelena Kuljić, guitarists Kalle Kalima and Frank Möbus and drums/percussion Christian Lillinger - always find ways to combine powerful attitude, in-your-face political engagement and even occasional white-hot rage with astonishingly and consistently high levels of musicality, musical interest and a kind of creativity that is capable of taking the band off in many different directions.

This is a group of superb musicians who have been honing their craft on stage together for most of a decade. And while all four of them have multiple commitments to all kinds of other activities, KUU! is something which they want to commit themselves and their time to, and something that they all palpably enjoy: “Basically, we just want to play,” says Kalle Kalima, “good concerts with this band are complete bliss.” Jelena Kuljić adds: “When we play, it’s pure heaven.”

The world of ‘Artificial Sheep’ is haunting and unsettling. A dystopian future is very present and very real here. And rather than imagining the future, there is a particular immediacy because the world of ‘Blade Runner’ has suddenly become much more like the everyday in 2021: paranoia, control, power and mistrust, the wholesale deceit of the world, environmental destruction, humans versus robots. Here we are in the world of the 1982 cult film with Harrison Ford, which was based on the 1968 Philip K. Dick sci-fi novel ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?’. Challenging questions of what is reality and what is just perception or fake are there, right from the very first line of the first song: “It’s easier to believe fiction than real life.”

In this dark, claustrophobic world where conspiracy theories and manipulation prevail, human relationships are tense. Jelena Kuljić launches herself particularly powerfully into the domain of gender politics in the compelling tour de force ‘Miss Stress’. If Kuljić has in the past been compared to Nina Hagen, then the focus, intent and sheer force of personality she finds here are such as to leave those memories and comparisons way behind.

There are also cover versions of songs by Arcade Fire (‘My Body is a Cage’) and the Beastie Boys (‘Sabotage’, underpinned by some magnificent powerhouse drumming). And in the powerful final song, ‘Book of Nihil’, with a lyric co-written by the members of the band, there is a particularly menacing juxtaposition of the threats from Darwinian natural selection combined with the sinister commandments to conform to social norms from ‘Jante's Law’ by the Danish novelist Aksel Sandemose. We find ourselves in a strange world of harmonic uncertainty and anonymity and the album ends eerily, as if its life support has suddenly been cut off


Crimes That Bring Me Joy (Kalima / KUU!)
My Body is a Cage (Arcade Fire)
Shepherd (Kalima / Kuljić)
E-Major Peace (Kalima & Kuljić / Kuljić)
Miss Stress (Kalima / Kuljić)
Sabotage (Beastie Boys) Officer KD6-3.7 (KUU!)
Eraserhead in the City (Kalle Kalima)
Hourglass (Kalle Kalima)
Book of Nihil (KUU!)