The lifespan of Wigwam as experienced by Jim Pembroke - introduction by Hans Beck

Featured December 1980 in the Norwegian music paper Nye Takter. Based on an extensive letter of September 19 1980 from JP to HB. The intro I made on my own and here it is in my English.
-- Hans Beck


Revered by few but ignored by many, WIGWAM, the Finnish rock-group, ceased its brainwork in 1977. The reason being economic frustration.

This highly regrettable fact, in my view, is the best proof of the potential recordbuyer's superficial relation to musical excitement. A wall of sound constructed speculatively on empty claptrap functions usually more efficiently (in all its anonymity) as a social feedback than music that is a result of a need to express personal impressions in the language of music. In its intensity, the latter approach seems all too obtrusive and disturbing for selling purposes. Music as consumer goods, however, is exclusively intended to provide the atmosphere of cosiness many of us are unable to establish on our own. An almost unlimited use-and-throw-away mentality dominates here - just like in the rest of the world of fashion, trends and stereotypes. On the top of sellinglists one finds music that at first gives the impression of being seductive and refreshing but when played several times reveals its plain unexpressiveness. This kind of music reminds me of lemons - when the juice is squeezed out only the garbage remains.

The music of WIGWAM is strikingly original and distinctive. Within what appears to be a conventional Anglo-American rock outfit is concealed something undefinable and powerful. Deeply personal and moving, the intricate versatility pushes forward, revealing a violent concentrate that is not a product of a pursuit for fame or economic ambition. On the contrary, the listener finds himself faced with personal impressions honest and intimate in an extraordinary way. He is saved from customary empty phrases and is offered an indescribable richness of ideas.

Moreover, the music is characterized by everlasting melodic catchiness. As a sort of synthesis between the cautiously optimistic and the tragically desperate (mental foundation) the music appears astonishingly beautiful. The lyrics are also highly remarkable. Socially engaged comments on dark and white sides of life are presented in brilliant poetry, often encapsulated in subtle irony.

It seems evident though that for WIGWAM lyrics only play the role of pointing up certain interpretational alternatives already present in the music which itself carries a whole set of messages so very very rich and complex that it is impossible for any collections of words to cover more than a fraction of these alternatives.

This fundamental attitude is reflected in WIGWAM's aim to sound like a single instrument, and in large the group reached this goal of creating a uniform pattern of expression with the instruments. Besides, WIGWAM manages to incorporate the vocal into the emotional unity. This almost free relation to their tools partly explains the magic that the music radiates. Explanation is also to be found in the brilliant compositions. They manifest an unusual ability to absorb impressions and also reveal self-confidence and a willingness to establish an attitude of intimacy and honesty towards these observations.