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
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
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
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
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