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FRIGG Grannen Frigg FRIGG 00007

SNEKKA Akropolis Lusti LUSTICD 003



KAUSTINEN PW-FIDDLERS Maestro Kansanmusiikki-Instituutti KICD 105

A bunch of new albums from some of the Kaustinen new wave written about else- where in this issue.

Frigg is essentially a Kaustinen band, but also a meeting between Kaustinen players and the Larsen brothers from Norway. Over the years since its 2002 debut Gjermund Larsen has found it increasingly hard to fit Frigg gigs into his many involvements back home in Norway, and he’s now left, but brother Einar Olav is still in the band, which has become one of Finland’s most world-wide travelled. The current line-up is five fiddles – siblings Esko and Alina Järvelä, Tero Hyväluo- ma, Tommi Asplund and Einar Olav Larsen – with Tuomas Logrén on guitar and occasional dobro or mandolin, Petri Prauda on cittern and mandolin and Antti Järvelä, cousin to Esko and Alina, on double bass.

Grannen is their fifth album in eight years; rather a high production rate, but these people speak with their fiddles and new material flows out of them. It opens with a take on Ale Möller’s Potatisvals before settling into the band’s characteristic glorious mutual- ly intuitive playing of memorably melodic tunes, a blend of new composition and trad. Guest contributions include a woodwind and brass section on Logrén’s Amurin Tiikeri (Siberian Tiger), and Roope Aarnio adds man- dolin to Patana Sunset/ Hölökyn Kölökyn. (The latter title is a Kaustinen expression for ‘cheers’, the former a tribute to Hyväluoma’s home hamlet, Patana; for an entertaining glimpse of its minimalist sights and delights, just south of Kaustinen beyond the mystic fleshpots of Veteli and Vimpeli, see www.mys-

Snekka uses the melodic and fiddling styles of Kaustinen music, but deconstructs and reassembles them in a rock way that’s complex and subtle while exuberantly populist and danceable. Beginning in 2000 as a group of students at Kaustinen’s music high school, which teaches all forms of music including of course folk music, the band achieved local youth-popularity quite soon, but with their shows at this summer’s festival and this third album they’ve established a powerful, wild sound and assured, big-stagecraft visual iden- tity that should take them much further afield, probably reaching a rock audience untapped by the acoustic JPP and Frigg.

Akropolis begins with K.A.U.S.T.I.N.E.N, a constantly direction-changing tour of the local music’s identifying motifs by fiddler Tero Hyväluoma (now also in Frigg) and guitarist Olli Seikkula. Transformations of polska, schottis and other pelimanni tune forms fol- low, one based on the traditional Juot- tomarssi, the rest written by Hyväluoma, Seikkula or bassist Tarmo Anttila. Completing the line-up are Markus Luomala on accordeon and bandoneon, keyboardist Matias Tyni and drummer Oskari Lehtonen. Live and studio sound engineer Markus Pajakkala is also listed as a member of the band, and it’s this integration of composition, playing and sound manipulation that seems


to have produced such a strong musical and live-performance result that takes Kaustinen music on a new ride.

Snekka’s 2002 first album was produced by another very skilful and creative Kaustinen fiddler, Ville Ojanen, who with each new pro- ject takes the music further, indeed beyond. His new album Hero’s graphics, inspired by bullfight posters, show a fiddle-bearing torero confronting a ground-pawing bull, and perhaps that hints at a sense of con- frontation in Ojanen, a quest to make music that doesn’t reject his fiddle tradition but isn’t bound by it. With a big, wide-ranging sound including fiddles, brass, vocals, key- boards and rhythm section, while springing from and rooted in the spirit of the place and involving some of its musicians including Snekka’s Tarmo Anttila and Tero Hyväluoma, apart from on the closing track Matador it’s far from the shapes of pelimanni music and hard to hang on any genre hook. On its own most of it probably wouldn’t be fRoots mate- rial, but it really does show that the deep grounding in music gained by having the good fortune to be born and raised in Kausti- nen can lead anywhere.

Named ‘band of the year’ at this year’s Kaustinen festival, Elina Järvelä and Juha Vir- tanen’s album is a very attractive exemplar of the present-day development and expansion of pelimanni music. Elina is only distantly, if at all, related to the other fiddling Järveläs, but her ability and musical charm is certainly akin to theirs. Juha, one of Finland’s new wave of sophisticated melodeon players, matches it perfectly. Their duetting is beauti- fully expressive and sensitive, in dance tunes and slow airs whose sources jump from Ostrobothnia to Sweden, the UK (Wood and Cutting), France (Jean Blanchard), Venezuela and their own compositions, all coming home together in a satisfying way.

On Maestro the new Kaustinen wave including Järveläs Mauno, Antti, Aili, Alina, Anni, Esko, Jaakko and Elina and 17 others form a fiddles, harmoniums and double bass orchestra, a multiplied version of the old Kaustinen wedding bands, to play the reper- toire of Konsta Jylhä (1910-1984), fiddler, leader of Purppuripelimannit and writer of many of the most well-known Kaustinen tunes. His best known have been much recorded already, so this album, on the cen- tenary of his birth, features others from his repertoire: 12 of his compositions, one by his contemporary, kantele player Eino Tulikari, and another dozen traditional. They’re not flashy or complicated, and the band plays them straight and sweet; Kaustinen music has developed hugely since Konsta’s time, but the characteristics of these fairly four- square, hummable sotiisis, waltzes, masurkkas, polkkas and polskas are at the

core of today’s music, and today’s Kaustinen players don’t forget that. Andrew Cronshaw.


THE BAD PENNIES Wotcheor! Tantobie TTRCD 111

VARIOUS ARTISTS All Along The Wall Fellside FECD 236

Two complementary releases, each building a “bridge through time”…

Wotcheor! cordially greets us in the style of the 1940s BBC Newcastle radio show Wot Cheor Geordie, heralding a vaudeville-style parade of Jez Lowe compositions that tip their hat to the people, places, history and culture of his native north-east in his own distinctive way: astute observations where genial nostal- gia is interlaced with piquantly wry humour and just enough of a dash of angry attitude. This 13-song collection neatly mops up Jez’s most recent writing activities: archetypal fun- with-a-serious-message slices-of-Lowe-life (It’s A Champion Life, Watter’s Coming Annie, Gramophone Dancing and The Ex-Pitman’s Pot-holing Pub Quiz Team) alongside the more hard-hitting Bare Knuckle and Hands Feet. Into this sequence are juxtaposed two songs from the Badapple Theatre production Back To The Land Girls and three adapted from, or taking their cue from, specific traditional sources: The Lost Piper, Darling’s Other Daugh- ter and The Judas Bus. The excellent musician- ship of Jez’s versatile Bad Pennies (Kate, Andy and David) is supplemented by spirited contri- butions from Benny Graham, Hinny Pawsey, Louisa Jo Killen and the Tyneside Maritime Chorus, while ‘concept continuity’ is provided by four pithy ‘jingles’, cheeky vocal interludes performed by Hartlepool threesome The Young ‘Uns (only just audible beneath the unnecessary poor-wireless-reception gimmick). The chirpy cabaret of Wotcheor!, beautifully gift-wrapped, highlights the continuity of the north-eastern cultural tradition while furnish- ing a worthily accessible introduction to Jez’s own unique artistry.

Distributed in the UK by Proper.

All Along The Wall, commissioned by Brampton Live prior to that festival’s unfortu- nate cancellation this year, brought together five songwriters (Jez Lowe, Boo Hewerdine, Julie Matthews, Rory McLeod and Ruth Not- man) and two performance poets (Kate Fox and Elvis McGonagall), holed up for five days in January in the remote Northumbrian farm- house of Saughyrigg, close to Hadrian’s Wall, to create a concept piece portraying a geo- graphical and temporal journey across the

Photo: Andrew Cronshaw

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