Disco Ensemble – Graceful Fury
by Jonathan Mander :: 2009
High hopes were thrown on the shoulders of Disco Ensemble's members in the mid-00's. In a country that has seemingly received a huge boost in its musical identity through popular music's recent export successes, there is a hunger to find the next band breaking through in some faraway lands.
A new export hero was in demand after HIM and Nightwish had their best years. The financial weekly Talouselämä even did a small survey in December 2005 among people in various fields of the music industry to find out who the new "world conqueror" would be. Children of Bodom received the most mentions, but were hardly a new promise even internationally. So Disco Ensemble was next in line.
At the time the band had released the albums Viper Ethics (2003) and First Aid Kit (2005), which had sold 2,500 and 6,000 records respectively, according to what Disco Ensemble's record company Fullsteam Records told Talouselämä. Not exactly on top of the world then.
But the band and the label were hard at work. Disco Ensemble toured tirelessly all over Europe on a shoestring budget with the DIY (Do It Yourself) attitude of their punk roots, while Fullsteam was laying the groundwork for a bigger company to take over and take things further abroad. After releasing First Aid Kit they played shows at Europe's biggest festivals, eg. Roskilde, Hultsfred, Rock am Ring and Glastonbury. Disco Ensemble's albums and primal shows, kept winning the hearts of music fans and professionals.
The busy buzz resulted in the international record deal Fullsteam had been hunting. Universal Music Germany licensed Disco Ensemble to its Vertigo label for all territories excluding Finland, where the band remains with Fullsteam. Universal then released First Aid Kit in over 20 countries. If things had been fast-paced until then, this accelerated everything up a few notches and the stages grew bigger.
Either unfazed by the developments or just quick to recover, after promoting and touring with First Aid Kit in many new regons, Disco Ensemble headed into the studio in 2007. A third album was eagerly awaited – especially in Finland where it would soon be three years since the previous release.
Magic Recoveries (2008) was produced by Swedish Pelle Gunnerfeldt, who had worked with The Hives and one of Disco Ensemble's early favourites Refused. Musically the album was a progression, and sounded bigger, fuller and deeper than ever before. Miikka Koivisto's vocals were as emotionally strained as ever, giving both the slowed down and the fast-forward rougher moments a strong emotional foundation. The original influences from Refused and other melodic-leaning punk groups were still audible, and at the core of the music there continues to be an underlying fury – but one that never sounds sour.
A success story like this easily turns into a business-focused rundown of the band's various achievements. Instead of that impression Disco Ensemble is down-to-earth and music-focused. The band's origins are in Ulvila, a town of 12,000 people on the west coast of Finland, where DisCo was founded in 1996. Singer Miikka Koivisto joined the founders, guitarist Jussi Ylikoski and drummer Mikko Hakila, in 2000, when Disco Ensemble was born. Soon after the band first released its first EP, Ghosttown Effect (2001). The threesome moved to Helsinki where they found Lasse Lindfors to play bass.
Next the band had a hand in founding the strongest independent label in Finland so far in the 21st century. Juha Kyyrö set up Fullsteam Records in 2002 mainly to release Disco Ensemble's album. So these guys have already written their names in Finnish music history in more ways than one – and their journey has only just begun.
© Juliana Harkki