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Pekka Airaksinen has died

The Finnish electronic composer and performer died on 6 May

Pekka Airaksinen (1945–2019) was a pioneer in Finnish electronic music, with a career that would span more than 40 years. “I think making art must be some form of madness,” he would say in an interview with Matt Wuethrich in 2018.

He spent his youth in Helsinki and would learn various instruments throughout his childhood. Airaksinen's uncle worked as leader of an orchestra, although at an early age he decided he would not take a classical path; he wanted to invent. He first became known on the Finnish underground music scene in the 1960s as member and composer for controversial performance collective The Sperm. Active from 1967–1970, they comprised over 20 artists and were under surveillance by the Finnish authorities who treated their use of simulated sex and nudity in performance with suspicion. One artist, Mattijuhani Koponen, found himself sentenced to six months in jail for breaking obscenity laws.

When the group disbanded, Airaksinen would focus on studio based solo works and Buddhist practice. He established the Buddhist Dharma Centre in the West of Finland and translated a number of Buddhist texts into Finnish. He would also use his spiritual side to expand his musical practice. “I came up with a system where I converted these names [of Buddhas] into mathematical information and then into musical equivalents that I used for compositions,” he told Wuethrich. Using this system he would record various releases, for example the 1984 album Buddhas Of Golden Light. In the 1990s Airaksinen founded the Dharmakustannus label that would issue more than 40 releases by the artist himself, including dozens of releases through the 2000s.

Last year Svart released The Sperm box set 50th Erection I. You can read Matt Wuethrich full interview with Airaksinen in The Wire 411 on Exact Editions.