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Jussi Lehtisalo

Jussi LehtisaloBorn: 1972
Birthplace: Pori, Finland

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Musician

Nationality: Finland
Executive summary: Founder of Circle, Ektroverde and the Ektro label

One of the central figures in the contemporary Finnish underground, Jussi Lehtisalo has been the mastermind behind a wide number of musical projects since the beginning of the 1990s. Based in the riverside city of Pori, a historically important trade center established in the fourteenth century, Lehtisalo has been maintaining a prolific output that is as remarkable for its quality as it is for its relentlessness.

His first project to attract international awareness -- and still the primary vehicle for his musical ideas -- is the hypno-rock band Circle. Originally a 3-piece, the group has undergone numerous personnel and stylistic changes over the years, but never lost sight of its guiding vision. After one self-released 7" (DNA / Independence, 1991), Circle took up residence for a while on the legendary Bad Vugum label; under its auspices, the 7" releases Point (1992) and Silver (1993) were issued, followed by the band's first 2 full-length efforts, Meronia (1994) and Zopalki (1996). With these two albums, a broadening from the propulsive rock of their previous output was already becoming evident -- this trend was zealously continued with Hissi (1996), Fraten (1997), and Pori (1998), all released through the Metamorphos label. A particularly effective line-up of the band (which included notable Finnish musicians such as Teemu Elo, later of Alien Heat; and Jyrki Laiho and Janne Peltomäki, both of whom moved on to Stalwart) coagulated between 1998 and 2001, spanning four studio releases -- Andexelt (1998), Prospekt (2000), Taantumus (2001) and Alotus (2002, posthumously released by Faust's Klangbad label) -- and undertaking Circle's first tour of North America. As the new century progressed, shifts in personnel found the band evolving yet again; now fortified with the vocal stylings of ex-Moon Fog Prophet singer Mika Rättö and several other veterans of the Finnish underground, explorations into NWOBHM-style rock (Sunrise, 2002) and freeform psychedelia (Guillotine, 2003) were undertaken. It can only be guessed into what territory Circle's unpredictable course will take them next.

In addition to Circle, Jussi has kept active with a wide variety of other bands, the most active of which has been Ektroverde. Primarily improvisation-based -- and, at the beginning, more electronics-oriented -- than Circle, Ektroverde has pursued a more relaxed course than its sister band, despite the fact that many of the same musicians are involved; shows and recordings typically consist of extended audio ventures performed by a large ensemble. With the creation of the band Pharaoh Overlord, Lehtisalo began to explore the structures of the "doom" or "stoner" rock genre -- albeit entirely on his own terms, sometimes incorporating more acoustic sources into the material than is typical, while retaining the slow, heavy advance. His interest in full-on noise psychedelia has been given an outlet with Doktor Kettu, whose output has mostly remained confined to CDR releases on the Super Metsä label. Less prolific side projects have included Lehtisalofamily (an album realized with his two non-musician parents), Kirvasto (a "supergroup" of the Finnish underground, featuring musicians from Keuhkot, Aavikko, Moon Fog Prophet and Sweetheart), the trio Eturivi, and an ongoing collaboration with Mika Rättö.

In 1996, compelled by the increasing unreliability of channels such as Bad Vugum and Metamorphos, Jussi established the independent label Ektro Records. Many of the post-2000 Circle releases (and most of Ektroverde's output) have emerged under this banner, as well as several of Lehtisalo's side projects. More than just a vehicle for his own music, Ektro has also brought to light several long-lost gems of underground music: Geafar by the Finnish progressive band Haikara, the self-titled weird folk offering from Mummi Kutoo, and Fun at the Funeral by the U.S. psych-rock outfit Jesters of Destiny have all been disinterred by the label for the enjoyment of a new audience. Works by fellow practitioners of unclassifiable music (Keuhkot, Faust, Los Natas, and Kuusumun Profeetta, among others) are also regularly issued.

Father: P. Lehtisalo (dentist)
Mother: A. Lehtisalo

    Circle Multi-instrumentalist/Vocalist (1991-)
    Ektroverde Multi-instrumentalist (1996-)
    Lehtisalofamily Multi-instrumentalist (1997-)
    Kirvasto Multi-instrumentalist (1997)
    Pharaoh Overlord Bassist (2000-)
    Eturivi Multi-instrumentalist (2000-02)
    Rättö ja Lehtisalo Multi-instrumentalist/Vocalist (2002-)
    Doktor Kettu Multi-instrumentalist (2003-)

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