An album of jet black lyrics which, played off against an off-kilter positive energy...
Chris Moss 2003-03-14
Foreign languages you don't understand can mystify or mesmerise. Finnish, in Värttinä's jagged female harmonies, does both. The music is equally beguiling. Rippling beneath a veneer of North European folk, replete with fiddle and accordion, is a relentless percussive throb and an insistent summons or curse.
Part of the hex rises from the instruments - the jouhikko (a bowed lyre) and the nyckelharpa (a complex 16-string fiddle, with a drone string and three melody strings) - which make the songs wheel along like enchanted dirges. But the band acknowledges this is an album of jet black lyrics which, played off against an off-kilter positive energy in the arrangements, make for a dark, deeply satisfying sound.
Grounded in an ancient Fino-Ugaric tradition of runo poems and tribal sagas, Värttinä's music opens itself to jazz, rock and pop to give it contemporary appeal. This is a brave and extremely beautiful album. The band is now collaborating with A.R. Rahman on the score of the stage version of Lord of the Rings expect magic and danger.