The Finnish Line | Finland’s finest musicians at LIFEM

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Finland’s finest musicians are the focus of this year’s London International Festival of Exploratory Music (LIFEM) at Kings Place. The four-day genre-busting explosion of Finnish fire power takes in traditional, fusion and contemporary folk, folk-rock, progressive jazz, acid jazz, avant-garde jazz, electronic and much more.

The program opens with the distinctive Finno-Ugric close harmonies of Värttinä. This 30th anniversary gig promises to deliver a complete review of their stylistic musical journey from 1983 to the present day.

The iconic and much-loved Jimi Tenor will be exploring his impressive back catalogue, blending electronic, classical, lounge, afro-American and cabaret music, with spontaneous slapstick and shameless glamour.  There’ll also be one of Finland’s best-known jazz pianists/composers Iiro Rantala, and the energetic visionary fusion folk of Tsuumi Sound System.

In the spirit of collaboration, renowned master of free-bass button accordion Maria Kalaniemi is joined by Timo Alakotila, one of Finland’s most in-demand performers, on harmonium and piano. Support comes from English accordion queen Karen Tweed.

Six-piece Alamaailman Vasarat, which translates as ‘The Hammers of the Underworld’ draw influences from tango, klezmer, jazz, psycho-billy, cabaret, circus music, new age, progressive avant-garde and the heaviest of heavy metal. The band’s weaponry consists of saxes and clarinets, bass brass, cellos with multi-effects, pump organ, grand piano, drums & percussion and, most recently, a rare contrabass saxophone. Support comes from visionary Finnish neo-folk music composer, singer and jouhikko player Pekko Käppi.

LIFEM also presents two London film premieres: Kimmo Pohjonen’s Soundbreaker and Jimi Tenor’s Sähkö The Movie. Both give a rare insight into the minds of two of Finland’s most creative and distinguished performers.

London International Festival of Exploratory Music (LIFEM) is a festival of inspiring and boundary-expanding music explorations committed to the exciting world of life and music of all sorts of genres and origins. Aiming to surprise, enrich, enlighten and empower audiences, LIFEM challenges musical boundaries by programming ground-breaking exploratory music from all corners of the world. It is a catalyst for change, showcasing excellence and excitement, instigating international collaborations and experimentation, enthusing interculturalism and knowledge sharing.

LIFEM director Miguel Santos is also the creative director behind RED ORANGE (, representing a number of artists from all over the world, including Inuit throat singer Tanya Tagaq (Canada), Fado singer Claudia Aurora (Portugal), master guitarist Badi Assad (Brazil), Cambodian surf rock band Dengue Fever (Cambodia/USA), griot singer Kimi Djabaté (Guinea-Bissau), shaman folk singer Namgar (Buryatia), among many others. He was director of the Atlantic Waves Festival which took place in London between 2001 and 2008. He has compiled the CD series Exploratory Music from Portugal, which was distributed with Songlines and The Wire magazines, as well as Exploratory Music from Estonia, distributed with The Wire magazine. He also presents a number of shows on Resonance FM, London’s first arts radio station.

The full programme is available at

For tickets, see

Last modified: July 15, 2018