Right now I need a calming experience so when I was invited to join Ikiranka on their journey to ‘Sydänmaa’in the expectation that I might find one, I jumped at the chance.
They chose to release it, their second album, on Finnish Music Day, 8th December and yep, it is representative of so much that is good about Finnish music.
‘Sydänmaa’ translates as ‘Heartland’ according to the band, but weirdly to ‘Backwoods’ according to Mr Google, who must be off his game tonight, and consists of the band’s own compositions and improvisations, including folk music arrangements from Lappfjärd and Jepua, which I guess are the communities from which they coma, as well as a borrowed piece from Oskar Merikanto.
The seven-track album also features soundscapes recorded by Teemu Korpipää from Lake Inari, which is right up on the northern tip of Finland, flush with both Norway and Russia, and even further north than Santa’s Grotto at Rovaniemi, if that helps you get your bearings.
The album has been several years in the making, involving numerous different line-ups.
Stylistically, the music lies between folk, ambient, and jazz.
Joakim Berghäll’s usual saxophone has been replaced by a bass clarinet on this album, while Juha Kujanpää plays both the reed and pipe organ. Sounds like the spoken countdown in ‘Tubular Bells’ doesn’t it?
I originally intended to provide a link to the title track, which involves some electrifying clarinet work from Juha Kujanpää but eventually I opted for the opener, ‘Kirkonmiehet’, which Mr Google tells me means ‘Churchmen’, for the simple reason that this is the most relaxing piece of ambient electronica I reckon I’ve ever heard.
It’s the sort of thing Laurie Anderson might compose and it would slot effortlessly in film sequences like the exterior shots of the spaceship in 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Joakim Berghäll – bass clarinet; his playing has been heard in recent years both in Ismo Alanko’s band and in the ethnofusion of the Helsinki-Cotonou Ensemble. He has been touring many years with Tsuumi Sound System.
Teemu Korpipää – electronics and sounds; a musician, recording engineer, mixer, improviser, and sound designer. His recent activities include playing with Johanna Juhola Reaktori and Jarmo Saari Solu, recording and mixing the new Sähkökitarakvartetti album, and working with Pekka Kuusisto.
Juha Kujanpää – reed and pipe organ; a composer and musician who released his fourth album with his ensemble, Juha Kujanpää Ensemble, in November 2022. Kujanpää plays in various groups, including Karuna (with Esko Järvelä and Teija Niku), Captain Cougar, Mimmit (children’s music ensemble), a new jazz album with Jussi Miettola, and the CNCD art collective.
Find them on –
(Juha Kujanpää Music): https://www.facebook.com/juhakujanpaamusic
(Joakim Berghäll ): https://www.facebook.com/joakimberghall