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Sunday Night Fever

Australia’s Architecture in Helsinki: Your new ultimate dance soundtrack.

By Dainon Moody
Posted // June 11,2007 -

When considering Architecture in Helsinki, you’re best off setting the usual indie-rock expectations aside. After all, they’re a lot who list “hand and power tools” in their long array of instruments they’re not afraid to wield onstage (tuba, Theremin and musical saw among them). Sometimes they’ll even utilize a child barely able to formulate his words to sing a line or two. It’s this spirit of collaboration that works not unlike a lint brush'the ideas that stick are played live.

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On the cusp of their upcoming third (and still untitled) album, lead singer/songwriter Cameron Bird is taking on an all-new challenge. While he’s holed up in San Francisco practicing a dozen new songs, the rest of the band are back in their native Australia doing, well, the same thing. Collaboration via instant messenger. Once the tour starts, they’ll have a whole week of actual rehearsal time together before they thrust themselves before ticket-buyers.

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Bird’s optimistic: “By the time we hit Salt Lake, we hope to be able to play three of the 12,” he says, laughing.

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That’s saying a mouthful, considering the eight-person affair they’re used to bouncing around with onstage has been scaled down to a slightly more manageable six-piece (Tara Shackell and Isobel Knowles recently flew the coop). It doesn’t mean they won’t still be running around playing their unique version of musical chairs: No one sticks to one instrument for long; everybody plays everything.

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Case in point: When Architecture in Helsinki exploded all over their respective selves at Seattle’s Sasquatch Festival at The Gorge on Memorial Day weekend, it was a sight to behold. Ten people crowded onstage, rocking the masses in mumus and old Wendy’s Jazz caps. They proved once and for all that every band should perform with horns'many, many horns. They’d play a song, finish, proceed to move over one spot, pick up whatever guitar or congas or recorder were in front of them, and then continue chugging through the set list. Repeat over and over again.

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Bird admits that, while the rotations may baffle crowds, it’s standard for Architecture in Helsinki. “You know how someone playing the cowbell in a Latin band would have to train?” he asks. “Not us. Whatever it is, we’re not afraid to give it a go. It helps keep it loose and raw for us.”

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The result has them sounding like an electro-pop jam-band from Venus, or maybe even the Go! Team, had that gaggle of musicians accidentally added three times the sugar to their lattes. Picture fireworks with a readymade soundtrack, minus the patriotism. When the playing becomes frenetic, they up the stakes and scream a little louder, working to keep up. It’s a rock & roll beach-dance party, save for the beach and steel drums.

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Speaking of dancing, the next Architecture in Helsinki release is slated to be their dance record. True story. Across-the-spectrum dance music they hope will make people boogie. Having enjoyed performing to crowds just seeking out excuses to dance, Bird says their goal is to up the booty-shaking ante.

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“It felt natural,” he said. “The more we play live, the more we enjoy when you can feel the crowd getting excited, feeling that energy. There’s just something about seeing people dance that feels absolutely incredible.”

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Touring on the heels of last year’s In Case We Die, Architecture in Helsinki don’t even plan to start recording the follow-up until around Halloween'for now, only show audiences will hear the band’s newer material in all its raw glory.

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But, lo! What’s this? A tour-only remix album will be available at the show, so pack an extra couple bills in the wallet. According to PitchforkMedia.com, the album features reworkings of In Case We Die songs by Hot Chip, Mocky, Safety Scissors, DJ Medhi, Squeak E Clean, Dat Politics, Isan, and others.

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Of the decision to put out a remix album, Bird explained, “I feel like collaboration and cross-pollination between artists is such a healthy and inspiring thing to do. There is so much to learn from hearing the way that other brains arrange and produce. The 12 or so folks who worked on the record [represent] a good mix of friends and people whose work we admire. I am totally happy with the way it came out.”

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In the meantime, be prepared for favorites like “Back in the ’90s” and “Owl’s Go,” as well as a healthy dose of Phil Collins and Wu Tang Clan covers. Seriously.

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ARCHITECTURE IN HELSINKI
In The Venue
219 S. 600 West
Sunday, Oct. 8
7 p.m.
24Tix.com

 
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