Nordic Music Central Viking Hero

Cats of Transnistria (Finland) – Big Sleep (single)

I have encountered Cats of Transnistria previously and had the pleasure of reviewing their work but it was a long time ago and I can’t even remember now which publication I was working with at the time.

On the other hand we have featured one half of the duo, Henna Emilia Hietamäki (the other is Tuomas Alatalo), almost exactly two years ago, with a single and track from her then forthcoming debut album, called ‘Protesti’.

While I didn’t necessarily agree with the theme of the song I immediately recognised her standing even amongst the pantheon of 1960s/70s protest songwriters – your Mitchells, Baezs, Smiths and Kafkas – of whom she could have been one.

It seems that separate projects are part of the reasons Cats of Transnistria hasn’t recorded anything for five years but they’ve put that right now with this new single ‘Big Sleep’ which is a story about dreaming.

On May 10th 2024, Cats of Transnistria will release new music for the first time in five years, taking their expression to new paths. The single “Big Sleep” is “a story about dreaming.”

I really wish more people would focus on the dream as a subject, be it in song, poetry or prose. The topic fascinates me. I’ve been dreaming deeply recently. Like most people I can’t remember what about five seconds after I wake up but sometimes they are very lucid and imprinted on the memory even hours later and I find coherence in them that doesn’t exist in ‘real life.’ .

What are they all about? Where do we go? A parallel universe? But enough of that for now or I’ll be sounding like Hamlet.

In fact invoking the Prince of Denmark and his “to die, to sleep, to sleep, perchance to dream” is quite valid here because she (the singer)

“…can’t close my eyes/I can’t dive in to that blue/I can’t fall asleep/cause I’d only dream of you”.

She goes on to sing about,

“Delusional dream worlds/are taking a hold of me/in real life so few words/I live for fantasies”,

which are sentiments very similar to my own on this matter.

Musically it’s a sombre piece with a plodding beat which might support a state funeral. I can’t help but think of Meursault trailing behind his mother’s coffin on that long trek to the church under the boiling Oran sun in L’Etranger.

Then about half way through celestial synthesisers arrive on cue and it slowly morphs into an anthem with thunderous final chords that belong in film about the end of the world – Melancholia, perhaps. Almost M83 in its intensity. (Think ‘Outro’).

If you can imagine the unlikely scenario of gothic metal meets dream pop it might give you an idea what to expect before you give it a listen.

The Cats certainly got the cream with this one. It’s powerful, emotive, and highly listenable throughout.

Photo by Tekla Valy

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