Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Full Length Review: Juha Jyrkäs "Sydämeni kuusipuulle" (Earth and Sky Productions) by Dave Wolff

Artist: Juha Jyrkäs
Location: Helinski
Country: Finland
Genre: Kantele folk metal
Format: Digital album, limited edition CD
Label: Earth and Sky Productions
Release date: February 12, 2021
Imagine pagan and folk metal entirely recorded with traditional instruments, and this is what to expect from Juha Jyrkäs’ debut “Sydämeni kuusipuulle”. Jyrkäs is a musician and author from Helinski, Finland who has written short stories, novels and lyrics for the Finnish folk metal band Korpiklaani (Clan of the Wilderness) from 2006 to 2012. For him, the most convincing way to sustain Finland’s cultural origins is to forego writing and composing with modern instruments in favor of writing and composing with the kantele, a traditional Finnish instrument dating 1000 to 2000 years. With the gusli (Russia), the kokle (Latvia) and the kankles (Lithuania) it belongs to the zither instruments of the Baltic Psaltery. Unsure as I am that Jyrkäs is the first musician to record in this manner (who knows how many others are doing so), he is expanding on material extreme metal bands recorded with multi-stringed electric guitars and bass, presenting opportunities for new, over-and-above songwriting techniques. When I listened I got the feeling I get from Loreena McKennitt’s “The Mummer’s Dance” or Sarah Brightman’s “Harem”. Is it metal or world music? In the end it doesn’t seem to matter.You may forget this album has anything whatsoever to do with underground metal as it sounds like an altogether different style of music. If you really become immersed you may find yourself leaving the modern world behind to a distant period when these instruments were first constructed. The ambience created between them and the other instruments employed in this recording (such as jouhikko, bagpipe, saz, mouth harp and various percussion instruments) feels like another world where there’s no compression, iPods or even electronic keyboards. I mean the album was recorded with modern equipment but Aslak Tolonen who did recording, sound engineering, mixing and mastering gave the album enough atmosphere and resonance to make it a macrocosm akin to a piece of history carefully preserved and unaltered by modern sensibilities. One that feels real as opposed to a museum exhibit. “Sydämeni kuusipuulle” goes beyond genre classification; it’s art. –Dave Wolff

Juha Jyrkäs: Vocals, electric kantele, bass kantele
Pekka Konkela; Percussion
Hittavainen: Violin in “Tulisydän” and “Honkajuurella Asunto”, Estonian bagpipe, saz, mouth harp and backing vocals in “Voimaa”
Milla Asikainen: vocals in “Hämärästä Aamunkoihin”, “Korpien Kutsu”, “Tulisydän” and “Honkajuurella Asunto”
Tero Kalliomäki: Electric jouhikko in “Otson Voima”, “Korpien Kutsu” and “Juhlapäivä”
Gorba The Cat: Purring in “Otson Voima”, “Korpien Kutsu” and “Juhlapäivä”
Avdakeja Andzhigatova: Vocals in Kamass language in “Juhlapäivä”

Track list:
1. Poimotus
2. Kymmenen Kyrvän Nimeä
3. Otson Voima
4. Hämärästä Aamunkoihin
5. Manalan Valtikka
6. Korpien Kutsu
7. Nuole Mua
8. Voimaa
9. Tulisydän
10. Honkajuurella Asunto
11. Juhlapäivä

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