Solo chants from the Arctic floes

Wimme Saari  - Instinct - solo joiks
Wimme Saari – Instinct – solo joiks
Wimme Saari

Instinct – solo joiks (NorthSide, 2004)

While I enjoy Sami joik singer Wimme Saari’s electronic recordings, I often found myself wondering when he would release a solo joik CD. Wimme’s fifth CD, appropriately titled, Instinct, answers my question and offers 34 solo joiks. In the past, Wimme commented about his “free joik” style and how he would joik in a way that accommodated other musicians. “My joiking has some elements of the old style of joiking, such as the voice technique and the throat technique. I can also do some traditional joiks, but accompaniment doesn’t quite suit them. When I joik and the boys (band) play I have to do something new.” Well, move over boys, it’s time for a few unaccompanied joiks.Instinct (gapmu) feels rather intimate since we (the listeners), are alone in the great outdoors with Wimme. The joiks resemble personal meditations as well as, a homage to daily life of a modern Sami man.

The image on the CD cover features Wimme at age one. And the joik singer does reflect on his childhood, at least on the track, To Have To, a short story about not wanting to attend boarding school. We get a glimpse of Wimme’s daily life with the joiks, The Meat Pot, Noon, Morning Coffee and The Berry Mound, giving a new meaning to the term personal joik. The traditional joiks, The Grouse and The Reindeer might sound familiar to Wimme fans since both joiks appear on Wimme’s second recording, Gierran.

Instinct provides Wimme with space to explore his vocal and throat techniques further than on previous recordings with his band. Occasionally subtle sound effects, such as water from an outdoor stream (The Dream Stream) or the whirring motor of a boat, (Father) accompany Wimme’s joiks, but for the most part what you hear is ambient air and Wimme’s lone vocals which I believe were recorded in an outdoor setting. (At least that is my impression). And Wimme stretches his voice from a baritone croak to soaring tenor, on I Know it Myself, he does this in a manner of seconds. The joiks he performs whether original or traditional highlight his brilliant vocal technique and show us why he is
considered a world class joiking talent. The throat singing that appears on Father alone has the power to cause a jaw dropping reaction from its listeners.

Personally, I enjoy solo joiks and all the better when performed in a natural environment. Wimme lives on the edge of a fading tradition that stretches back to ancient times. He honors that tradition to the best of his ability while also adding colors from his contemporary palette. He draws upon the Sami Luohti tradition which possesses two unique features. First it utilizes the five note scale with no half tones. And second, it always has a person, place, animal that it describes, sometimes honors in its music.

This is not an easy fete and it involves a bit of shapeshifting (taking on the energies of the subject of the joik), as well as, employing some difficult vocal maneuvering. Living in the Arctic region of the world, close to nature and coming from an indigenous lineage, Wimme Saari is more than a master joiker, he’s also a musical ambassador for the Sami people. For him joiking isn’t just a way of life, it is also a lifestyle and a fascinating one at best.

Compliments of Cranky Crow World
where you will find numerous reviews on Scandinavian artists.