Western African desert blues is definitely one of my favourite roots music genres – and yoik is another one. On Áššu’s debut album these two are combined in a fascinating way. The group is formed by one of Finland’s most renowned Sámi musicians, Ulla Pirttijärvi, and Norwegian multi-instrumentalists Olav Torget and Harald Skullerud. Mostly wordless yoiks paint pictures of Ulla’s home villages and relatives – one of which is already familiar to those who discovered Ulla’s gentle voice on Dolla (1992), debut album by trio Angelin tytöt.
Skullerud’s and Torget’s percussions and stringed instruments (e.g. calimba, baryton guitar, oilcan guitar and African konting) wander and weave, building interesting rhythmic and melodic combinations with yoik. Calmer and groovier moments take turns. Some of the briskest and most approachable pieces are saved to the last half of the album, such as Vulle Mihkku and Vulleš Heaika, the album’s groovy single release. A brave choice in a genre in which the albums are still often listened to as a whole.
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