It does not happen too often that someone from outside ‘academic Finnish folk music circles’ creates an album that makes it to the international world music charts. NIEMI’s Spiraalit [Spirals] is a refreshing exception. Based on singer-songwriter-producer Inka Niemi’s vision, it includes her compositions and traditional Finnish lullabies. The producer of the album, Venla Ilona Blom from Tuuletar, graduated with a M.Mus. degree from the Glomas programme at the Sibelius Academy, but Niemi studied elsewhere.
Niemi’s calm and unpretentious voice is accompanied for example by kanteles, other stringed instruments and a beautifully sounding piano. Although this album is heavy on atmospheres and soundscapes, I find the word ‘ambient’ used in the promotion of this album diminishing and misleading. After all, the core of this music is in lullaby melodies, around which all the other production elements are carefully arrayed. I would rather talk about indie music aesthetics and hope that those who have enjoyed Finnish ‘forest folk’ scene will also discover this dreamy yet powerful album.
In addition to the beautiful melodies and production values, Niemi’s lyrics are intriguing. However, the music can be enjoyed without understanding the lyrics, as demonstrated by the multiple glowing reviews in international media.
Inka Niemi (vocals)
Janne Storm (piano, guitar and setara)
Venla Ilona Blom (backing vocals)
Suvi Eevi Karhu (concert kantele)
Eero Nurmela (guitar)
Olli Puolakka (double bass)
Mari Talala (flugehorn)
Outi Pajukallio (concert kantele)
Lassi Ylönen (drums)
Tero Holopainen (strings, guitar and bouzouki)
Bafe's Factory, 2020