Just Joiking – Sami joiks for a new millennium

Inga Juuso
Inga Juuso

Frozen Moments (Inga Juuso, Rogelio de Badajoz Durán, Jai Shankar Sahajpal & others) Live Recording (DAT, 1999)

Orbina II (DAT, 2002)

Anders P. Bongo – Dolin (DAT, 2003)

Although the Sami (also Saami or Sámi) are descendants of the original Finn (Finland), first discovered by the Romans around 10 AD, contemporary Sami people proves just as innovative and resourceful as their ancestors with a unique flare for modern technology. Both Sami art and music has flourished internationally. And the Sami people once tormented by the Christian church of the northern
climes and the so-called civilized Swedes, Norwegians and other arctic dwellers, have proven that they are here to stay, both in Europe and North America.

The Sami who once watched their shamans and drums burn during the inquisitions are back beating drums and performing yoiks (also joiks), a vocalization practice that is considered one of Europe’s oldest living traditions. And similar to the circle that appears on the Sami flag, Sami musicians include people from all cultures in their repertoire.

Today, you will find electric guitars, keyboards and drum machines embellishing yoiks or you will find award-winning joikers performing classic yoiks a cappella. Many yoikers such as Wimme (Finland), Inga Juusco (Norway), Marie Boine (Norway), Ailu Gaup (Norway) and Ulla Pirttijarvi (Finland) have garnered
an international following as well as, working with other well-known non-Sami musicians and producers. Wimme has worked with Hedningarna and Hector Zazou and Marie Boine has collaborated with Bill Laswell. And the popular Finnish group, Varttina has even featured yoiks on their recordings. I read an article awhile back about Sami musicians collaborating with Inuit musicians. This didn’t surprise me since both cultures practice throat-singing and derive from a nature-based religion tied in with the cycles of the Arctic Circle where they reside. And I read in an interview with Wimme Saari that when he first
discovered recordings of his uncles’ yoiks, he found a resemblance with Navajo chants.

The three recordings mentioned in this short article portray a unique versatility. Frozen Moments, a live recording marries flamenco, yoiks and classical Indian music. Orbina II takes a more ambient rock approach with Celtic coloring and Anders P. Bongo provides 50 classical yoiks in the traditional a
cappella format. All three recordings were released on the innovative Norwegian label, DAT that produces books and music featuring the Sami heritage. You will find contact information at the end of this article.

Frozen Moments featuresInga
(yoiks), Johan Sara Jr. (yoiks, guitar, producer), Erik Steen (flamenco guitar, producer), Rogelio De Badajoz Duran (flamenco vocals), and Jai Shankar Sahajpal (tabla and vocals) and as anyone might imagine, this collaboration offers plenty of virtuoso moments. This group of musicians pushes
both rhythmic and vocal boundaries. One could hardly call their performance a frozen moment since there is nothing icy or stagnate about this passionate music that leaps over borders and sets fire to false cultural perceptions. And the performers also set flame to any rules that pertain to their various musical disciplines.

For instance, the track Voices showcases yoiks, throat-singing, classical Indian vocals along with flamenco cante. The end result is the strangest and most beautiful a cappella composition my ears have ever witnessed. And all the tracks on this recording dole out similar surprises, sometimes leaving a listener yearning for words to describe the music. Inga performs a solo yoik on Harsh Spring, Petenera features a duet with Rogelio on voice and Erik on flamenco guitar while Jai’s tabla contributions are highlighted throughout the recording. Yet, the true musical power happens when these five musicians collaborate. Frozen Moments not only appeal to iconoclastic thinkers, but also to musicians wishing to explore other musical territories and to music lovers in general.

Orbina - Orbina II
Orbina – Orbina II
The Norwegian group, Orbina that is comprised of Inga Juuso (yoiks), Leif Isak Nilut (yoiks), Klemet Anders Buljo (yoiks, guitars), Bjorn Ole Rasch (keyboards) with Svein Schultz (bass), Rune Arnesen (drums) and Hans Fredrik Jakobsen (flute and bagpipes) offers ultra-modern yoiks. And in fact, the music that appears on Orbina II carries an ambient rock sensibility colored with Celtic overtones. On one hand, the music is similar to Wimme’s electronic yoiks, but then it also resembles Mari Boine’s jazz renderings. And the Celtic influence probably comes with Norway’s ancient ties to Scotland. Also for those readers familiar with Norwegian folks root music, will recognize Bjorn Ole Rasch as Norwegian violinist Annbjorn Lien’s musical partner.

Mortena Sàrà falls into light acid jazz while Jeagge-Jussà feels experimental. Boade features a duet with male and female yoiks and Gàisi carries Celtic influences complimented by a flute. Lemet Ante takes this approach further by introducing bagpipes and flute and highlighting a yoik by Anders P. Bongo.

And speaking of Anders P. Bongo, his second CD, Dolin released earlier this year, offers traditional yoiks sung a cappella. Anders performs 50 yoiks, all composed for those who have passed away. The yoiks are all under two minutes long and some of the yoiks feature double vocal tracks.

Anders P. Bongo - Dolin
Anders P. Bongo – Dolin
Anders hails from Kautokeino in Northern Norway and he is dedicated to keeping one of Europe’s oldest living traditions alive. His yoiks, like all yoiks are dedicated to people, a landscape or an animal, but in this case, he dedicates the yoiks to people who have died. Yet, the reindeer herder and award-winning yoiker won’t bring tears of despair to your eyes while honoring the dead. And he might even inspire musicians to learn more about the vibrant Sami culture.

For more information please visit the following labels and distributors:

DAT: www.musiconline.no