Nordic Music Central Viking Hero

Emil Kárlsen (Norway) – Čávkkus (single/future EP track

I took a shine to Emil Kárlsen in May when he was last here. He’s from the Northern Sámi community, the area which straddles the uppermost reaches of Norway, Sweden and Finland.

His previous excursion to NMC-land was ‘Viehkkin-Erjan’, a highly tuneful sing-a-long, clap-a-long banger of a thing the local instrumentation coming as close to whatever they call shredding in that part of the world and with a chorus that will no doubt be sung long into what passes for night time just now up there in the Arctic Circle.

It paid homage to a friend, ‘Runner-Ørjan’, his Sámi nickname referring both to his hobby of running and his energetic personality.

Now Emil’s back with ‘Binnát’, an EP, and a single, ‘Čávkkus’, (not cactus, I don’t think you’ll find any of them in Sámi territory), which is on the EP along with ‘Viehkkin-Erjan’ and three other songs that look like they are written in a language the Chinese just found on the dark side of the Moon.

‘Čávkkus’ turns out to be the northern Sámi name of Emil Kárlsen’s hometown (now known as Oteren) and is an ancient one, probably referring to a place often covered in light mist during summer nights. A bit like the Frankfurt football pitch tonight after Slovenia fans threw flares onto the pitch.

(Just to prove I can multitask – writing this and watching a soccer game!)

What he’s doing here again is what is called ‘luohti’ in which he ‘yoiks’ reminiscences of his hometown as he journeys across the world, like a form of aide memoire or mnemonic. Don’t need no smart phone when you’re Sámi, man.

And there’s a serious point to it, too, as this ‘yoiking’ reconnects his village with its Sámi history, as “the Norwegianisation really struck hard and almost eradicated both the Sámi and the Kvääni/Finnish identities, cultures and languages there.” (We’ve had at least one Swedish Sámi song as well, and I recall much the same problem there).

He adds that the languages are on their way back, and there is evidence that yoiking has been heard there from both the reindeer herding Sámis and the coastal Sámis. He concludes by saying “Maybe the village of Čávkkus did have its own luohti/yoik back in the days, but I have not heard about it. So it was about time to find one!”

It’s a calmer song than its predecessor in the way that it starts and you can easily imagine Clint Eastwood riding slowly into town after a long ride across the plains, cheroot dangling from his lips, dismounting, and then leaving his reindeer to be unsaddled while he moseys on down to the Saloon.

But it soon expands into another multi-instrumental indie anthem without a synthesiser within moose shot, punctuated by what sounds like someone blowing down a drainpipe and then into another Sámi sing-a-long in which he might be singing Čávkkus on to victory in the local derby against Skibotn.

If you prefer your music to be different and not Glastonbury Pyramid stage, then this guy is definitely worth checking out.

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