Pekka Lehti Sohjo Review

Album. Released 2003.  

BBC Review

'An album of danger and smokey desire'

Fiona Talkington 2003

The combination of bass, percussion, harmonium, harmonicas, melodica, claviola, overtone singing and kantele is a hard one to bring off. There are few who would dare go down this road, and there are certainly few who could do so in a way which isn't gimmicky or seriously weird.

Not that there's anything wrong with seriously weird, and if there's one man who can explore those jagged frontiers and leave you begging for more it's bassist Pekka Lehti.

For ten years Lehti was bassist with Finnish band Värttinä, But although his roots, like theirs, go back to Karelian soil, it was with punk band Outo Voima he made his first musical mark. Along the way he's inhabited the jazz world too, and found inspiration from Nino Rota, MingusandPiazzolla.

Lehtis is joined by percussionist Marko Timonen and multi-instrumentalist Jouko Kyhälä, making music which would be as at home in the searing heat of the Californian deserts as by a Finnish lake in midsummer.

From the gentle bells of the opening and a bass line which creeps into your consciousness you're gripped by a musical force which could go in any direction. Its inherent beauty is unsettling; the physical effect of its rhythms is compulsive.

It'sintrack 2, though, 'Snadina', where you say to this album, "take me I'm yours": the harmonica's seduction is impossible to resist. In 'Ite' the same harmonica aches until all passion is spent, and you realise that all along you were being dragged in the direction of a Finnish folk dance.

'Jenkka Skitsofrenia' is full of circus sounds, sinister and dark, a truly schizophrenic take on atraditional tune, while 'Skrubu' is cabaret tango, snaking its way into the days of the 1930s European tango, storm clouds gathering with the insistent rhythms of the snare drum.

This is an album of danger and smokey desire, with just enough nostalgia thrown in to tug at the heartstrings. Unforgettable.

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