Värttinä — Iki
(NorthSide NSD6071, 2003, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2003-08-01After three albums (Kokko, Vihma, and Ilmatar) that featured electronics heavily, including keyboards, samplers, and rhythm loops, Värttinä has elected to revisit a completely acoustic sound. Fans who might worry about the band going mellow and producing a set of ballads needn’t worry, though. These most popular of Finnish folk revitalizers are in fine form, with their instantly recognizable vocal harmonies backed by acoustic bass, acoustic guitar, accordion, fiddle, and a variety of percussion. The CD is bracketed by a pair of unaccompanied vocal excursions (the two parts of “Syyllinen Syli”) that encapsulate everything that makes this band so wonderful: complex, confident harmonies with lots of unexpected intervals and stunning dissonance. The organic compositions (which incorporate some traditional elements) are full of unconventional (to American ears at least) phrasing and surprising resolutions. From the hyper-speed tongue-twister of “Nahkaruoska” to the gentle “Morsian,” singers Susan Aho, Mari Kaasinen and Johanna Virtanen amaze with their dead-on harmonies as well as occasional solo spots. On guitarist Antto Varilo’s “Vihi,” the backup players get their chance to shine with a lively piece rife with the shifting accents and highly coordinated rhythms they provide so well in accompaniment. “Maahinen Neito” emphasizes the similarities between Finnish and Middle Eastern music, and would sound at home in the repertoire of a band from Turkey. Iki would serve admirably as an introduction to Värttinä’s magic, and should please existing fans as well.
Related artist(s): Värttinä
New Aristocrats Live Album on the Way – No foolin'! These supreme musicians toured Europe early in 2020, just before touring ceased to be a thing musicians could do, and there were some hot performances captured. On May 7, some of these will be releases as Freeze! Live in Europe 2020. » Read more
Jewlia Eisenberg RIP – The sad news has come out that Jewlia Eisenberg has died. As a founding member of Charming Hostess, Eisenberg changed the face of music, bringing together Balkan klezmer, American folk, and experimental rock in a distinctive blend that garnered much praise. » Read more
SoundQuest Fest 2021 – SoundQuest Fest, first experienced as a live festival in Tucson Arizona in 2010 was created by ambient music pioneer Steve Roach. This 2021 event will unite a worldwide gathering of artists and audience members together for a 3-day online event unique in the realm of ambient music. From March 26-28th a continuous flow of streamed performances, audio-video wonder worlds and deep immersion zones will burn bright on Roach’s YouTube channel. » Read more