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JPP — Artology
(NorthSide NSD6089, 2006, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2008-01-01

Artology Cover artJust when you thought you'd had enough of Nordic fiddles, along comes this little gem from Finland. I like Scandinavian folk music as much as the next guy — probably more, actually — though I'll admit to approaching burnout on the genre. But I forced myself to pop this one into the player, and found myself enjoying it quite a bit. Given their limited palette of four fiddles, a harmonium, and acoustic bass, they manage a surprising diversity of sound, mixing modern with traditional, Nordic with foreign, and energetic with reflective. They wisely draw from other traditions as well, including some American swing, a Middle Eastern sounding piece, and a tango, providing a Finn's eye view of music from other countries. Sometimes the arrangements mass the fiddles together for rousing unison melodies, while at other times they split apart for harmonies or more intricate counterpoints, and even include some uncharacteristic pizzicato work. If there's a flaw, it's that the four fiddles blend together so much that none of the players is left with an individual voice. But if that was music's sole virtue we wouldn't need symphony orchestras. All of the music is original, composed by Arto Järvelä, and it is testament to his talent and sensitivity that it all works so well. I wonder what would happen if he tackled a style even further afield, say RIO or zeuhl...

Filed under: New releases, Issue 35, 2006 releases

Related artist(s): JPP

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