Exposé Online banner

Frifot — Summersong
(NorthSide NSD6024, 1999, CD)

JPP — History
(NorthSide NSD6026, 1999, CD)

Loituma — In the Moonlight (Kuutamolla)
(NorthSide NSD6027, 1999, CD)

Troka — Smash
(NorthSide NSD6029, 1999, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 1999-11-01

Summersong Cover artHistory Cover artIn the Moonlight (Kuutamolla) Cover artSmash Cover art

Here we have new releases by some of the more traditional of NorthSide’s Scandinavian artists, three from Finland and one from Sweden. You’ll find no electronic textures on these discs, just rousing Nordic music well played. Not that they stick strictly to stuffy old-fashioned interpretations. There’s lots of inventiveness and energy here.

JPP is a veritable orgy of Finnish violin playing, featuring four to five violinists, acoustic bass, and harmonium. History is a collection of tracks highlighting their career from 1983 to 1996. JPP occupies a unique place in the history of Finnish folk music, as nearly every other band currently in existence (it seems) includes at least one former JPP player. The disc features 22 tracks of rousing dances, not all of the folk based – they include a bouncy rendition of the old American standard “I’ve Found a New Baby.”

One of the JPP offshoots, Troka, features a similar sound to the parent group, with violin (only two!), bass, and harmonium augmented by accordion. While the instrumentation is rather traditional, the arrangements have a somewhat more modern flair, with more dissonance and atmospheric touches. The disc’s opener “Monster of Polska 2.0” takes the old Finnish dance and makes it an impressive acoustic showcase for energetic and edgy playing. One track features a drum kit, and while the tune is one of my favorites, it does stand out a bit among the others.

The other Finnish band, Loituma, is an entirely different animal, as it features but a single fiddle. The dominant sounds are the voices of the three women and the kantele, a Finnish harp. Lead singer Anita Lehtola is also a member of Hedningarna (and Hedningarna’s other singer, Sanna Kurki-Suonio, is formerly of Loituma). The arrangements range from a cappella to four kanteles. The vocal harmonies are stunningly beautiful, and the multiple harps provide a shimmering sound, making this an excellent choice for a quiet evening.

As for the Swedish entry, Frifot’s new release is a collection of tunes from their two Swedish albums. It serves as a good introduction to the band. While they are performing folk-based music, the members have a background in other styles, and have even released jazzier outings on ECM (both as Frifot and as the Nordan Project). Singer Lena Willemark has a strong and distinctive voice, and the dramatic arrangements complement the songs perfectly. This is one of the most enjoyable folk recordings I’ve heard in a long time.


Filed under: New releases, Archives, Issue 18, 1999 releases

Related artist(s): JPP, Troka, Frifot, Loituma

Latest news

2018-07-09
Soft Machine Set to Release New Music – It's been 50 years since The Soft Machine changed the face of music with their first album. Their blend of psychedelic rock and jazz was unique, and while the band went through many changes before disbanding in 1981 — by which time there were no original members remaining — they remained an innovative force with a style all their own. » Read more

2018-07-01
7d Surfaces Happy Rhodes Back Catalog – We've covered singer Happy Rhodes before, both for her solo work and recently with The Security Project, but her 11 albums have been hard to track down. Until now. 7d features high-quality downloads of all her releases, and several of them are also available on CD. » Read more

2018-06-25
Fred Chalenor RIP – We have news of another sad passing in the world of creative music. Bassist Fred Chalenor, whose creativity featured on albums by Tone Dogs, Caveman Shoestore, and many more, died on June 23, 2018 after a long battle with Alzheimer's. Tributes have poured in from the many musicians and fans whose lives he touched. » Read more

2018-06-13
Jon Hiseman RIP – One of the great drummers of the rock era has died. Jon Hiseman was a veteran of such ground-breaking groups as Colosseum (I and II), Tempest, John Mayal's Bleusbreakers, and was a founding member of the innovative large band United Jazz + Rock Ensemble. » Read more

2018-06-05
Koenjihyakkei Seeks Funding for New Album – It's been quite a few years since the last new studio album by the amazing Koenjihyakkei. Now they are preparing Dhormimviskha for worldwide release, and they're asking fans to pre-order via a Kickstarter campaign to help it happen. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

SSI - E Pluribus Unum – SSI (Sonic Solutions, Inc.) apparently consists of California brothers Will and John Goff, who combine laptops and MIDI synths along with live and programmed percussion to create sounds reminiscent...  (2008) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues