When first listening to Mika Tyyska's new album, a few things come to mind. First, that these songs could slot right in to any 80's movie without any issue. And second, is that this whole album sounds like a celebration of guitar and synth. Plus, look at that Back to the Future-esque font used for the album title! This album instantly piqued my interest.
Mika Tyyska is one of the most underrated players on the planet. He's always had a sound that is very much his own, with a mix of technical playing, and supremely great phrasing. Whether you know Mika under his actual name, or under his animated "Mr. Fastfinger" moniker, it seems he's always trying something new and fresh.
True to the 80's style fashion of Night Overdrive, Mika recorded the entire thing on 4 and 8 track casette recorders. He recently filmed an amazing YouTube video which shows his creative process, and how he lays down the ideas for a song in under an hour using his 4 track, an iPad, and his guitar. You can check out that video here.
The album starts with the aptly titled Punch In-Punch Out. When I titled this post "a celebration of guitar", this was the song that I had in my mind. There are angular lines, a grooving rhythm, and leads that will just make you smile with their enthusiasm.
The album continues with Van Damme Dance and Smash Hits 7, which could be straight out of a movie like Top Gun - and that's a commonality with a lot of these tracks. While songs like Night Crunch and Feed Me Thrash remind me of the quirky guitar playing of Mattias Eklundh.
Some of my favorite moments on the album come when Mika lays back. Tracks like Harmonium Heart, Darwing and Water, and Lake Ionian (guitar nerd title FTW!) break up the album in a way that shows a different side of Mika's playing.
The album ends with an eerie song titled At the End of the Tape. I think one of the best things to take away from this album is how great it sounds, despite its medium. And that when you give yourself limitations (i.e. 4 or 8 track tape recorders), you're able to hone in on what matters most - creating great music.
I highly recommend picking this album up, and then getting into Mika's Mr. Fastfinger back catalog. There's tons of great playing throughout. If you want an insight into how Mika does what he does, thankfully there are many places you can go - check out his YouTube channel, his interview with Troy Grady and Cracking the Code, and his lessons on Jam Track Central.