Dark Loungecore was not long for this world. A brief moment of irony in the late 1990s and it was gone. It left no lasting legacy, produced no stars, and most of the albums were ignored and then burned by the authorities over (justifiable) concerns about demonic possession. But that short-lived mash-up between Death Metal and Easy Listening produced one enduring moment: Huhtikuu’s seminal Ensimmäinen Päivähuhtikuussa.
It almost didn’t happen. At the time, Finland was still a major exporter of Death Metal (sales of Death Metal albums at the time had eclipsed exports of wood and vodka, and were beginning to challenge even Nokia’s then dominance of the Finnish export league tables), and the combination of musical genre seemed as distasteful as it was unlikely. Nevertheless, visionary Dark Loungecore pioneer Vilmar Tärendö (formerly guitarist of the band Bjursta) joined forces with Ingolf Jokkmokk (who would later join Stornäs Henriksdal as lead singer in the band Glivarp) in an effort to create a new harmonic form.
Their first experiements were, frankly, disappointing. Despite much promise, a live thrash version of the ‘Terry & June Theme’ at the annual Tchundertrollshouterfesten was poorly received, and the bassist Granås Torsby died from his wounds. Nevertheless, Tärendö and Jokkmokk were undeterred, after all, they’d had band members die before: it’s no big thing on the Finnish scene. Calling on nine-string bass player Gunde Melltorp, drummer Ekenäs Strandmon, and the beautiful (if somewhat unhinged) synth-bagpiper Adde Terje, the band immediately split up, took several months out, “to consume copious amounts of reindeer and hallucinogens” according to Melltorp’s publicist Ivar Ryggsetad, and reformed as Grebbestad, Ektorp, The Ystad, Kivik Söderhamn, and Värmdö, before finally settling on the name Huhtikuu.
The band proved to be more than just Tärendö and Jokkmokk, and settled on the works of Nat ‘King’ Cole and Frank Sinatra as the perfect vehicles for their ultimate experiment, Ensimmäinen Päivähuhtikuussa. ‘Unforgettable’, played at breakneck speed and screamed into a microphone lives up to the name, while ‘Come Fly With Me’ played softly to a backdrop of what has been thought to be human sacrifice is best heard with a pre-booked course of therapy. The secret Easter Egg at the end of the 13 track CD is a note-perfect version of Perry Como’s ‘Magic Moments’, played backwards. Interestingly, the lyrics “give yourself to the dark one/anoint Satan with the blood of the innocents” can be heard in place of “I’ll never forget/The moment we kissed/The night of the hayride”. What would move this from just another album of questionable death-metal-meets-easy-listening, though, is Jokkmokk’s voice. At once shrill and baritone, it has been described as a force of nature, “probably a little like an oxbow lake, with the size of maybe two or three squirrels,” by Dark Loungecore historian and self-confessed Huhtikuu fan Lynäs Herrup.
Huhtikuu, though, was doomed from the start. Poor sales (discounting the albums owned by the band and members of the family, most of which remain unplayed, they had sold no less than no copies worldwide), extremely negative reviews, and mostly unfounded rumours surrounding the ritual killing and eating of the keyboard player of rival Dark Loungecore band Llmatyynyalukseni On Täynnä Ankeriaita after a particularly disappointing gig, all put a strain on the working relationship. Four minutes into the first night of the band’s 'In Praise of Formica' tour, Huhtikuu turned on one another. Jokkmokk would eventually be cleared of all charges relating to the event, and Ensimmäinen Päivähuhtikuussa can be legally ‘enjoyed’.
Recorded: Popptorp Studios, February-July 1996. April-August 1997, January 1998, and then July 1996 again
Producer: Timsfors Poäng
Released: April 1st 1998
Label: Klippan Pouffe