Sanna Kurki-Suonio — Musta
(NorthSide NSD6021, 1998, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 1999-04-01With this release, Northside proves that their string of extraordinary CDs (see last issue’s overview) was no fluke. In addition, Musta proves that Sanna Kurki-Suonio is not just one of the Finnish singers in Hednigarna, but a substantial artist in her own right. Stylistically, this disc continues the fusion of ancient Scandinavian sounds with modern sensibilities so successfully begun by Hednigarna, Garmarna, Mari Boine, and Värtinä. That sonic expansiveness I’ve come to associate with artists from this part of the world is well evidenced, as is the capacity for energetic workouts. If you close your eyes and listen intently, you seem to float over a vast windswept plain stretching infinitely in all directions, suspended on a cushion of sound. The focus of this album is squarely on Sanna’s voice, which is an instrument of great expression and range. On the opening track, she varies from bouncy singsong harmonies to an eerie wail, all over a digeridu-like drone and subtle rhythmic patterns. The second track builds from a simple tune chanted over bubbling percussion into a pounding electronic groove. The third track is built upon a voice sample very reminiscent of Laurie Anderson’s “O Superman” but the presence of the Finnish kantele harp ends the similarity. Many times the singing style reminds me of Native American music, with an ancient modal sound well-suited to a combination of modern and traditional instruments. The lyrics are all in Finnish (at least I assume it’s Finnish!), but the liner notes provide translations for the rest of the world. In any case, the joyous but thoughtful mood comes through clearly without the benefit of understanding the words themselves.
Related artist(s): Sanna Kurki-Suonio
Eurock Documentary Seeks Funding – We've been fans and fellow travelers with Archie Patterson and his Eurock project on the journey to discover great music. After many years of promoting and trying to spread the word,a new phase is beginning: a documentary film. Things like this don't just happen, and money does not magically appear to make it happen, so it's up to the fans to get it done. » Read more
Marty Balin RIP – One of the architects of the 60s psychedelic sound of San Francisco has died at the age of 76. Marty Balin was a singer, songwriter, and guitarist who was one of the founders of Jefferson Airplane. After the split of the original Airplane, Balin went on to form the highly successful Jefferson Starship. » Read more
Krautrock Documentary Seeks Funding – The next installment of the Progressive Warriors documentary series will focus on the vast body of music that falls under the banner of "krautrock." As most of our readers will know, previous films have tackled RIO and the Canterbury scene, as well as what we might call "mainstream" prog rock. » Read more
Tomasz Stańko RIP – Tomasz Stańko, one of the greats of Eastern European jazz, has died at the age of 76. Stańko's career started in Krzysztof Komeda's quintet, where he contributed trumpet from 1963-1967, when he formed his own group. He worked extensively with Edward Vesala, Don Cherry, Zbigniew Seifert, Chico Freeman, Howard Johnson, Cecil Taylor, and many others. Many of his recordings have been released by ECM, an association that began in the mid-70s. » Read more