Jori Hulkkonen

Unlike neighboring Sweden, Finland has not had luck in introducing its music to the American pop market. But the dance floor is the great equalizer for all nations, a place where a good song is appreciated regardless of its origins, and 30-year-old DJ/producer Jori Hulkkonen is Finland's leading representative of that country's cutting-edge house and techno scene.

The whole of Different, Hulkkonen's third full-length album for French electronic music label F Communications, should work well in the clubs that inspired it. But it also has enough detail and variation to appeal to those who choose to listen to it at home. Like other producers his age, Hulkkonen has certain influences he wears on his sleeve (early Chicago house, Detroit techno, English electro-pop), yet his touch seems to be a bit more delicate than his fellow DJs, and his talent for layering subtle sounds is more natural than mere studious mathematics. The melancholy mood and spare drum programming in "All I See is Shadows" (with Hulkkonen-penned lyrics sung by guest Nick Triani) could have easily been pulled off an early New Order album, yet it doesn't seem like a calculated maneuver. The album is divided almost equally between vocal and instrumental cuts, with Hulkkonen stepping behind the microphone only to give praise to his fans with a dedication titled "You're My Excuse For Being Me." It has a genuine air that is precious in dance music; maybe that's what he really meant by Different.

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Tamara Palmer