Mira (JNCD002, 2010)
One of the most fascinating releases in recent months is Jienat’s album, Mira (CD + Blu-Ray disc), a project led by Norwegian musician Andreas Fliflet. Jineat celebrates the music of the Arctic, especially the northernmost region of Norway, inhabited by the Sami people.
Mira was made in Hammerfest, Norway, which the musicians call the northernmost town on Earth– less than 20 lines of latitude from the North Pole. The recording studio is 150 meters from the edge of the Arctic Ocean. Other sessions took place throughout the globe: Northwestern Argentina, Finland, and Pelourinho in Salvador de Bahia (Brazil).
On Mira , Andreas Fliflet (vocals, bass, percussion) is joined by Nordic musicians as well as guests from other parts of the globe including percussionists André Ferrari (Väsen) and Fredrik Gille (Bazar Blå), the Brazilian drum group Swing do Pelô, balafon player Adama Conde (Mory Kante), and vocalists Marit Hætta Øverli, Ulvens Döttrar and Eva Jeanette Iversen.
The mesmerizing vocal sounds of joik (in various Sami dialects) and tribal drumming are joined by the rhythms of Afro-Brazilian samba, Jamaican reggae, and Afro-Uruguayan candombe. “People may dedicate a joik to a place, person, or mood,” explains Fliflet. “When they’re joiking, they’re not joiking about a person, say, but actually joiking that person. As Sámi multi-media artist Nils-Aslak Valkeapää explained it ‘A joik is not about. A joik is.’”
“The music is purely acoustic (excluding two tracks using the electric bass),” says Fliflet. “We put the microphones up, positioned ourselves in a circle around them, and pressed «Record». No alteration of what the microphones heard. We did overdubs and cuts. When mixing, we removed some unwanted sounds- like the engine of the Russian trawler docked across the street from the recording room. By and large we tried to record the quiet passages between storms and propeller plane take-offs at the nearby ‘airport’.”
“The influences are obvious: West Africa, Sámi culture, Bahia,” Fliflet explains. “We’re not playing Brazilian music or joiking, however. This is our music, Arctic world music.”
“I’m presenting sounds that aren’t thought of as music in a musical context,” Fliflet reflects. “As far as I’m concerned, everything is musical raw material. It’s just the context that makes us think if it’s music or not. It’s not unlike Warhol’s soup can or Duchamp’s Fountain.”
To complete the final mix of the recordings Andreas Fliflet used Lindberg Lyd in Oslo, one of the most innovative surround sound studios in the world. “The rhythm on ‘Fredrik Albert’ is stolen from Uruguayan candombe. We recorded it on the equivalent of about six hundred standard mono tracks,” he recalls with a smile. “It crashed the mainframe computer in the studio in Oslo, and the recording software programmers in Switzerland had to give up some vacation time to create a new version of the software. No one had been crazy enough to try that before.”
Jienat’s Mira is a transfixing recording that incorporates the infectious rhythms of the Earth and the vitality of the marvelous vocal traditions of the Arctic.
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Author: Angel Romero
Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several TV specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World.