Step Time Orchestra was the collaborative work of producers Jori Hulkkonen and Tuomas Salmela, who began producing music together in the nineties whilst studying in Oulu, Finland. Whilst all their friends would be getting up early to go to university, they would only just be going to bed, having spent the night listening to house records from New York, drinking Whiskey and programming their MPC 2000!
Step Time produced a slew of tracks during this time, some of which were licensed and pressed on 12” singles during the late nineties/early noughties on labels operating in North America and Europe, but not everything they made saw the light of day. Heavily influenced by labels like Ibadan and Spiritual Life Music at the height of the New York House Scene, ‘Jazz Error NYC’ and ‘2am in Africa’ were never signed, not fitting the profile of their other releases at the time, they were left in the drawer and sadly forgotten!
Skip forward to Winter 2016, and FBNM’s Lorenzo, whilst over on a DJ excursion, visits Jori in Finland. Keen to keep working together, he presses him for something uniquely special. Magically, the Ajos EP jumps out of the drawer into Hulkkonen’s hand, and as it turns out, it has aged with a rather remarkable grace. Written using a combination of MPC sequencing and an Atari ST powering vanilla Cubase for some midi programming duties, it features the sounds of the Italian made Siel Opera 6, an Alesis S4 Rompler and other vintage Roland, Yamaha and Kawai Synths. They went full out on this one, even finally learning to play keys for that jazzy piano action. It was recorded live through a soundcraft analog board with outboard Fx, creating a sound that transcended it’s time to feel remarkably fresh today!
The Ajos EP is named after an area in their native city of Kemi, Northern Finland, which is where they wrote and produced it in 1999.