Värttinä — Ilmatar
(NorthSide NSD6054, 2001, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2001-07-01With Ilmatar, the Finnish band Värttinä enters a third phase of their career. The switch to NorthSide puts them in the company of many like-minded Scandinavians. Like Sweden’s Hedningarna and Garmarna and Denmark’s Sorten Muld, Värttinä take their folks roots and expand on them, utilizing musical influences from around the world and the best that modern technology has to offer. Having started in the early 90s with relatively traditional renditions of Finnish music on their first few albums (released originally on Green Linnet’s Xenophile imprint), they added more and more non-folk elements, culminating in Kokko and Vihma (1996 and 1998 respectively). Those two albums showed a band reaching out in all directions, grabbing everything from Middle Eastern percussion to dance-floor electronics. Ilmatar finds them a little more at home with themselves, still including those diverse influences but crafting a sound of their own. That sound is like nothing else on earth. Four female vocalists front the band, ranging from intimate solo spots to lush harmonies; the melodies are complex but instantly hummable even if you don’t understand the words. Backing comes from bass, drums, and an array of percussion topped by violin, accordion, sax, and a wide variety of other instruments. The music is mostly quite energetic, and a trademark is shifting accents, so that while a piece may be in 3/4, you get the impression of constantly shifting time signatures. Värttinä is one of my all-time favorite bands, and I can’t recommend this new album highly enough.
Related artist(s): Värttinä
Jazz Composer Mark Lomax, II Releases Epic 12CD Set – In addition to being a fine jazz drummer, Dr. Mark Lomax, II is a composer in residence at Ohio State University, where he has been very busy on the compositional front. The year 2019 is the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first ship bringing African slaves to North America, and in commemoration of this, Lomax has produced 400: An Afrikan Epic, a 12 volume set of CDs featuring a variety of different musical ensembles. » Read more
Chicago-Based Surabhi Ensemble Tours the World in January – Surabhi Ensemble was formed more than a decade ago in Chicago with the aim of bringing together musicians from varying traditions to make music. Saraswathi Ranganathan, who plays veena, assembled a cast that includes Arabic oud, Spanish guitar, and percussion from Africa and India. This month, the group will be sharing their sounds with concert-goers in Southeast Asia, Europe, and Africa. » Read more
Seaprog Festival Seeks Donations – Seaprog is a small festival in Seattle that highlights creative music from many genres with artists from around the world. It's also a US non-profit organization. They're seeking donations to help keep the ball rolling. Starting in 2013, the organization has been growing, and has featured such artists as Free Salamander Exhibit, Jack o' the Clock, Nik Turner, Cabezas de Cera, Miriodor, Thinking Plague, and many more. » Read more
The Seventeenth Dream of Dr Sardonicus Festival Tickets Now Available – Fruits de Mer Records and their merry crew of psychedelic explorers are getting set to present the next The Seventeenth Dream of Dr. Sardonicus Festival. The dates are set for August 2-4, 2019 at The Cellar Bar in Cardigan, Wales. They've also announced that the legendary Groundhogs will top the bill. » Read more