Title: The Four Tales
Artist: Aleksi Eeben
Release Date: 2007
License: CC BY-NC-ND
Aleksi Eeben is something of a legend of the netlabel scene. He originally was part of the Amiga Demo Scene. He is a machine code programmer, who believes it is unethical to program for money. His musical work has wandered around a bit. While he has mostly focused on the Amiga, he did some releases of disc images for the Commodore 64, which was later released by Monotonik as a set of MP3’s. The Four Tales of Aleksi Eeben was one of those recordings that was extremely rewarding to the point of being trans-formative for the way I look at music and the netlabel scene.
His personal website is an interesting read (to say the least). While most of his newer releases are primarily available through iTunes, his older Monotonik releases are still available on The Internet Archive.
The Four Tales of Aleksi Eeben
This release from Aleksi opens up with one of the most disarming and wonderful pieces I have listened over the past 7 years: ‘Minor Tale’. It’s disarming because for the first minute or two you might not realize that it was an electronic, computer based piece of music. The strumming of a Koto sounds so life-like and real, it really distracts your listening from any of the electronic sounding instruments that accompany it. It’s not until a sweeping line from a viola enters that you realize this really is an electronic composition.
This piece is a perfect example of what I like about Aleksi Eeben: just when you think you know where it is going, something new emerges. A new line, or rhythm or harmony, or arpeggio takes over. But eventually all the parts come together with stunning results.
His style is quirky and unique, as noted in some reviews, and there are elements that are not always easy to understand. For example, his mixing of jazz and classical elements, offbeat (and often off-key) angular melodies, and stunning interplay between seemingly organic-sounding instruments and pure electronic bleeps and bloops. But all of this is also the charm of this music. Aleksi creates instruments on an Amiga that are amazingly life-like in sound, and the imagination to set them in electronic settings that afford them an other-worldly quality.
And he was doing all of this well before 8-bit music became a genre of its own. What to me is even more endearing about Aleksi’s music is that he isn’t writing to pay homage to the past. This isn’t the co-opting of another generation’s work. He was part of it, he helped develop many of the sounds that are now part of the ‘8-bit’ style, and he continues to take them in new directions in ways that only he can.
This is musical invention at it’s finest. Aleksi Eeben borrows elements and structures from classical music and adds his own jazz-influenced twists. He carried on creating music well in to the 2000’s on hardware that many thought was dead and gone. When you are listening to an Alesksi Eeben release there is nothing else like it. Thankfully. Because any attempt to emulate Aleksi’s unique style would just be wrong. Listen and enjoy this stunning release, and then check out as many of his other masterworks as you can. Spending time in Aleksi Eeben’s unique musical world is rewarding for the mind and the spirit.