Helsinki-based band Okra Playground is set to release a new album in March 2018 titled Ääneni Yli Vesien. The group combines traditional Finnish musical instruments with modern instruments and soundscapes.
J-P Piirainen – Twined ((Bafe’s Factory / Nordic Notes, 2017)
Twined is the new release by Finnish fingerstyle guitarist J-P Piirainen. The guitar virtuoso is deeply influenced by acoustic guitar maestros from the Celtic music scene, flamenco and American fingerpicking traditions. Piirainen adds Nordic music into the mix.
On Twined you’ll find fiery and laid back solo performances as well as various collaborations. J-P Piirainen’s guests include Venla Ilona Blom (Tuuletar) who provides her remarkably beatbox skills; kantele player Maija Kauhanen; and acoustic guitarist Petteri Sariola.
Enkel – Pappila Hääyö (Kansanmusiikki-instituutti, 2016)
Enkel is a Finnish folk music band featuring four female vocalists and instrumentalists that enjoy making music together. Their album Pappila Hääyö (Pappila’s wedding night) combines tradition and a fresh contemporary, and somewhat quirky, folk attitude with a mix of traditional songs such as schottische, waltz, wedding march and polska, and original pieces by band members.
The quartet’s sound is characterized by vocal harmonies and the sound of the accordion, kantele and viola.
The lineup includes Leija Lautamaja on melodeon, vocals and claviola; Miia Palomäki on melodeon and vocals; Maija Pokela on kantele and vocals; and Iida Savolainen on viola and vocals.
The CD is available from www.recordshopx.com
Frigg – Frost on Fiddles (Frigg, 2017)
The Finnish fiddle wizards are back with another remarkable album. Frost on Fiddles takes you into a wild sled ride inspired by the folk music of Finland and Norway, modern bluegrass, Celtic music and fabulous Transylvanian-style rapid fire fiddling.
The four fiddlers and string musicians display their talent with flavorful intertwined layers of fiddles, guitar, mandolin and bass.
The line on Frost on Fiddles includes Tommi Asplund on fiddle; Tero Hyväluoma on fiddle; Alina Järvelä on fiddle; Esko Järvelä on fiddle; Juho Kivivuori on bass; Tuomas Logrén on guitar; and Petri Prauda on cittern and mandolin.
Frost on Fiddles is yet another exceptionally good contemporary folk music album with an array of top Finnish talent.
Buy Frost on Fiddles
Tuuletar – Uho (Bafe’s Factory, 2017)
Finnish vocal music wizards Tuuletar have anew single titled Uho. The four talented women once more perform all vocal and percussive sounds with their voices. The Uho disc features the new track “Uho” plus two tracks from a previous album. “Uho” mixes traditional forms with hiphop.
Tuuletar stand out when they mix regular vocals with their vocal effects. The rapping doesn’t add much value. In fact, song 2 “Tuu Keraa” from “Tules Maas Vedes Taivaal” is more attractive, where the quartet combines classic vocals with something tha sounds like electronic dance music performed with vocals.
Likewise, track 3, “Odotan,’ is excellent, combining traditional influences with modern beats.
SANS – Live (Cloud Valley CV2014, 2014)
SANS is an ensemble that combines contemporary folk music, jazz and chamber music elements. The group is led by the multi-faceted British multi-instrumentalist and writer Andrew Cronshaw, along with acclaimed Finnish singer Sanna Kurki-Suonio (former Hedningarna), multi-instrumental reeds player Ian Blake, and Armenian duduk maestro Tigran Aleksanyan.
Picture a form of chamber world music that would feel perfectly at home at ECM. It’s meditative, mesmerizing music where Finnish traditions, vocals and instruments join ancient Armenian sounds and English folklore.
Andrew Cronshaw plays electric zither, fujara, marovantele, kantele; Sanna Kurki-Suonio on vocals; Tigran Aleksanyan on duduk; and Ian Blake on bass clarinet, soprano sax.
SANS Live is a beautiful, spellbinding album, masterfully crafted by four world class musicians.
Born in 1961 to a Norwegian father and a Finnish mother from Karelia, Langeland was given a Finnish name, Sinikka, and felt the influence of two nationalities and cultures from the beginning. She lives in Finnskogen, 120 km north of Oslo, close to the border of Sweden. Finnskogen, the ‘Finnish forest,’ was first populated by Finns in the 17th century.
After an early education in classical music Sinikka started to look at contemporary folk music and the singer-songwriter genre, but this was soon displaced by an interest in older forms, intensifying as her research continued and underlined by a wish to “create an original music rooted in my own area, taking account of local possibilities and looking back into history to find out more.”
She highlights that her specific musical journey has “always been about searching. I love folksong but I’m not exclusively a traditional folk singer. There were always influences coming from other places, too.”
At 20 she changed from guitar to kantele, the Finnish table harp. She plays the 39-string concert kantele, with its five-octave range. “At first it was just an experiment – I thought it would be fun to have a Finnish instrument for one or two songs. But I became completely fascinated by it.” Meanwhile she was expanding her repertoire to include rune songs, incantations, ancient melodies from Finland and Karelia, as well as little known medieval ballads and religious folk songs.
Her work has flowed in several directions simultaneously. She gives, for instance, solo performances with voice and kantele, and she gives duo concerts in churches, together with organist Kare Nordstoga, in which old folk songs and Easter hymns are placed alongside with J.S. Bach’s transformations of the same sources. And, since the early 1990s, she has been working and recording with jazz musicians as part of her ensembles.
Swedish bassist Anders Jormin has been a regular colleague for more than a dozen years, joining her for the first time on the recording ‘Har du lyttet til elvene om natta’ (Grappa, 1995). Sinnika also played regularly with drummer Markku Ounaskari, a backbone of the Finnish jazz scene.
Sinikka’s songs often focus on the relationship between people and nature as it is expressed in traditional and modern poetry. Her CD Starflowers (ECM, 2007) includes her versions of the poems of Hans Borli (1918-89) and is performed with a remarkable ensemble that opens up the songs to improvisation. In its interweaving of folksong, literature, and Nordic jazz it may be considered a typical ECM production, but it is also a consistent extension of the work Sinikka has been developing over the last decades.
* Langt innpå skoga (Grappa Musikkforlag GRCD 4074, 1994)
* Har du lyttet til elvene om natta? (Grappa Musikkforlag GRCD 4107, 1995)
* Det syng, with Anne Marit Jacobsen, Halvor Håkanes, Eli Storbekken and Agnes Buen Garnås (Grappa Musikkforlag GRCD 4123, 1997)
* Strengen var af røde guld (Grappa Musikkforlag GRCD 4136, 1997)
* Lille Rosa (Grappa Musikkforlag HCD 7156, 1999)
* Starflowers (ECM, 2007)
* Maria’s Song (ECM 2127, 2009)
* The Land That Is Not (ECM, 2011)
* The Half-Finished Heaven (ECM Records, 2015)
* The Magical Forest (2016)
Web Site: www.sinikka.no
Hedningarna – Kult (Silence Records SRSCD-4771, 2016)
Throughout the years, Swedish band Hedningarna taped a lot of great material during recording sessions that never made it to an album. Kult is a collection of previously unreleased material, spanning two decades, 1992 and 2006. The 20 songs were mixed by producer Dag Lundqvist.
Hedningarna became a sensation in the 1990s with its fantastic mix of Nordic folk and beautiful Finnish female runic singing. The group attracted tens of thousands of followers beyond Scandinavia, including Spain, far to the south.
The Hedningarna lineup changed throughout the years and the CD booklet helps the listener figure out who was around at a given time. Two members remained as the essence of Hedningarna throughout all these years, multi-instrumentalists Anders Norudde and Hållbus Totte Mattsson.
On Kult you’ll listen to a wide-range of traditional acoustic instruments and vocals. The song mix is remarkable, featuring irresistible up-tempo pieces as well as mesmeric songs.
Hedningarna has influenced numerous folk musicians in Scandinavia and beyond and you can see why on Kult.
Buy Kult in the Americas
Buy Kult in Europe
Nils-Aslak Valkepää, called Aillohas by his fellow Samis, was born on March 23, 1943 in Enontekiö, Finland. He was one of the trail-blazers of traditional and modern Sami music since the 1960s.
Aillohas was one of the first artists to present traditional Sami joik on stage. He performed and toured throughout the world, and encouraged other joikers to perform in public. In addition to his activities as a performer and musician, he composed new music, was an author and worked with the fine arts.
His multimedia productions were exhibited widely. He collaborated with Finnish jazz and folk music fusion musicians to make several innovative recordings, and some of his compositions have become classics of Sami music. His Bird Symphony (Goase Dusse) received the Prix Italia Radio Music Award in 1993, and was the only musical entry to receive an award that year.
He opened the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer by performing the Olympic Welcome Joik (Dalveleaikkat). He composed film and theatre music, and his music has been used extensively in television programs.
Nils-Aslak Valkeapää appeared in Mike Oldfield’s album The Songs of Distant Earth (1994).
Nils-Aslak Valkepää passsed away on November 26, 2001 in Espoo, Finland.
* Baivi, Ahcazan (DATCD 4, 1988)
* Eanan, eallima eadni (DATCD 5, 1989)
* Sami, luondu, gollerisku (DATCD 11, 1992)
* Sampi Lottazan (DATCD 13, 1992)
* Goase Dusse (DATCD 15, 1994)
* Dálveleaikkat (1994)
* Vuoi, Biret-Máret vuoi! (2009)
* Alit Idja Lahkona (2010)
Jaakko Laitinen & Väärä Raha – Näennäinen (Playground Music, 2016)
Jaakko Laitinen and his band Väärä Raha hail from Lapland in northern Finland and they have a fascination with nostalgic Roma and Balkan music, brass band music, and other musical traditions such as Finnish tango and humppa, as well as Russian and Greek love songs.
Most of the material performed by Jaakko Laitinen & Väärä Raha is original, ranging from old fashioned love songs to progressively fast brass music.
The lineup includes Jaakko Laitinen on vocals; Marko Roininen on accordion; Jarkko Niemelä on trumpet, bouzouki and altohorn; Tuomo Kuure on double bass; and Janne Hast on drums.
Guests featured: Bjonko Stoisic on clarinet; Morgan Nickolay on balalaika; Matti Pitkänen on violin; Tuomas Timonen on percussion; Valtteri Bruun on guitar, mandolin, ukulele and synthesizer.