Roope Eronen “The Inflatable World”

Avarus are one of the all-time great Finnish bands and Roope Eronen’s Lal Lal Lal label has put out some of the best strange, wild music over the past two decades. On his first solo album under his own name (he’s done a lot under the moniker Nuslux), Eronen collects goopy tones and odd rhythms in a blender before hitting a button that says ‘psychedelic electronic frappe.’ What does it all mean? Nobody knows, but nobody cares either and Eronen’s bobble-headed electronic sound world is the antidote.

Jagged synth rhythms and unexpected note combinations dance along gleefully on “Extra Wet Ball Pools” while voco-strings creep in the background. This is a weirder version of haunted house music from my childhood and I love it. Layers come and go, everything vaguely creepy but overtly joyous. “Angel Bounce” opens the album with trampoline-like hypnosis where the electronics squelch and chime like the most bizarre level of Super Mario Bros. ever. 

So much of what makes The Inflatable World resonate with me is that it teases nostalgia with its video game sound design and candy-colored tones, but it’s not shlocky and doesn’t paint these recollections with broad strokes. Instead, it reimagines time-specific memories in an alternate universe, going well beyond reality. Eronen is a wizard and the sonic combinations on The Inflatable World shouldn’t make sense, but they do. “XXXL Nativity” is sacred harp music for aliens with fake choirs and luscious synth globules dancing exotic shapes across the stars. Lackadaisical racetracks get comedic workouts on “Enlarged Skyways” while “Bassmaster Mania” is the sound of motorcycle fishing from Zeke and Edsel’s spaceship.

I haven’t heard anything remotely similar to The Inflatable World and considering its source (it makes a lot of sense that Spencer Clark wrote the liners), I’m not all that surprised. Roope Eronen is going as strong as ever after all the years and we’re all better, and weirder, for it. Hell yes.

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