[Gauzes sleeve]"Gauzes" (Album, 2014)  !Recommended!

Record Union

I first heard Mikkokoo at a Dirty Contacts club night in London last November (run by Komputer's Dave Baker and Mechanical Cabaret's Roi Robertson). It's fair to say that the performance that evening probably wasn't one of Mikkokoo's finest. What with no soundcheck and serious sound problems with the venue's PA. Frankly, it was a shambles.

Yet, in spite of all these challenges, Mikkokoo captivated me.

And it wasn't just that a couple of minutes before taking to the stage he created new eyebrows, above and below his eyes, with pieces of hand-coloured Post-It Notes and donned a slightly broken black feather head-dress, giving him the appearance of a fashionista moose who'd narrowly escaped becoming roadkill. It was the wonky music and even more wonky singer that had me. A copy of this album was acquired from him after the set.

Gauzes is a collaboration between singer/songwriter/sound artist Mikko Karhu and composer/music producer Stavros Chatzikian (who also goes by the monkier Losta). It includes eight songs, all co-written by Karhu and Chatzikian.

This could be filed under any number of categories. It's avant garde electronica for sure, but throws in divergent hand grenades of jazz, punk, pop, disco, techno, film noir soundtrack, Hi-NRG and properly experimental moments to create the single most creative album I've heard all of last year. It hardly matters that it doesn't always quite come off. The sheer, uninhibited 'why not?' attitude of it all delivers a thrill not often experienced. And there are also beautiful moments of bare emotional honesty.

A counterpoint to the stratospheric surrealism of the music, the lyrical subject matter is a little more down to earth. Often about the weaknesses of the human relationships: betrayal, disappointments, jealousy; but there is also ambition, affection, hope. And, in the case of Happy Boy, male-on-male fellatio. A special mention should also be made of the outstanding production, meaning this musical melange sounds as punchy as fuck.

There's echoes of Klaus Nomi to be found within Mikkokoo. That's neither to get carried away, nor ride roughshod over the impact Gauzes achieves on its own terms, but rather to spell out just how utterly ingenious, albeit challenging, this album is. Sure, there are occasional imperfections, but there are also glimpses of something incredibly rare here... I hesitate to use the word genius, but oops - I did just use it. Perhaps time will tell. If this is merely the start of a career, I shake my head in perplexed wonder at what might follow. 8/10

Rob Dyer (January 2015)