Exposé Online banner

Värttinä — Iki
(NorthSide NSD6071, 2003, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2003-08-01

Iki Cover artAfter 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.

Filed under: New releases, Issue 27, 2003 releases

Related artist(s): Värttinä

Latest news

Seaprog 2018 Artist Announcements Raise Festival's Profile – Seattle's Seaprog festival has been going since 2013, and the 2018 edition features a slate of artists that's sure to bring more attention to the event. Cheer-Accident, Bubblemath, and Free Salamander Exhibit are in the first round announcement of performers. In keeping with their tradition of focusing on regional artists, they will also present a number of artists from Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia. [Edit: Just added: Inner Ear Brigade] » Read more

Adelbert von Deyen RIP – Word reaches us that German electronic musician Adelbert von Deyen has died. His recorded legacy reaches back to 1978, when Sky Records released Sternzeit. Von Deyen, who was born October 25, 1953 in Süderbrarup, was also known as a painter and graphic artist. » Read more

Didier Lockwood RIP – Word reaches us today of the death of one of France's great jazz musicians, violinist Didier Lockwood. His playing bridged many worlds, from traditional jazz to fusion to progressive rock, and his talent can be heard on recordings by Magma, Clearlight, Pierre Moerlen's Gong, and many more. Lockwood was 62. » Read more

10 Years of Fruits de Mer - The Incomplete Angler – Those of you who are faithful followers of Exposé will know that we have been promoting Fruits de Mer and its side labels and releases from nearly its first year. Now music journalist and author Dave Thompson has written a book chronicling the past ten years as a celebration of this milestone. » Read more

Tom Rapp RIP – Singer / songwriter Tom Rapp, best known with the band Pearls Before Swine, passed away on February 12, at the age of 70, after a battle with cancer. » Read more

Previously in Exposé...

Hans Reichel & Eroc - The Return of Onkel Boskopp – Careful. This is Hans Reichel; not to be confused with another German experimentalist - Achim Reichel. The Reichel featured here is known for constructing home made string instruments, and performing...  (1999) » Read more

Listen & discover

Print issues