published: 9 /
Maarten Schiethart reflects upon Finnish maths pop pioneers Rubik’s under-rated third album ‘Solar’, which has its tenth anniversary this year.
Ten years after I raved about 'Solar', the third album by Finland's Rubik on these pages, I managed to buy another copy of the CD for little money. Confident that I would soon buy the LP, in July 2011 I handed the promo CD back to our editor John Clarkson when I was tending my brother's zany boxer dog as John, his partner and I shared lunch in Sonsbeek Park, Arnhem. Circumstances couldn't have been more Scottish or Scandinavian as drizzle turned to torrential rain. The CD cover shows one of Finland's thousand lakes and, since John had expressed his fondness of the romantic scenery on the sleeve, it only seemed appropriate to hand it back.
The magnificently marvellous maths pop music kept ringing in my ears then, and even ten years onwards I only need to think of the album in all of its glory, and the songs crop up like opening the finest can of earworms which ever invaded one's mind. Rubik disbanded in 2013, their records becoming increasingly unavailable, I was happy like a bunny in vegan wonderland that I had the CD of the album at least at long last. As twisting your fingers around the Rubik cube should result in all parts falling into the right places, the album exactly does that. While maths pop is perhaps a genre not coined until now, Rubik, are the pioneers of it. And I have yet to hear music to challenge this claim, although early XTC records come close.
'Solar' is not just cleverly beautiful and ingenious, but it brings a smile to one's face, as it is graced with polite and intelligent charm. A milestone like this album might not have happened if it had not been for Finland's funding of music education, or its famous investments in education in general. Moreover it's worth considering that the Rubik cube is a Hungarian invention which might match the grammar of the Finno-Ugric languages and might explain the ease with which Rubik the band cracked the Rubik cube.
Rubik started out in 2007, and in their short lived existence only released three albums, but the utterly majestic songs on 'Solar' like 'World Around You', 'Sun's Eyes', 'Laws of Gravity', 'Crisis Meeting At The Lyceum' and the foretelling 'The Dark Continent' count among the finest in recorded recent music history. Still sending shivers. It's no wonder the album is still available from Bordeaux' Talitres label. 'Solar' was recognised in some parts of the world. Their original label Fullsteam in Helsinki seems to have to quit business but licensed ‘Solar' to a couple of labels abroad. You might find yourself lucky to indulge cracking the Rubik cube by simply listening to its dozen gorgeous songs.
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