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This should be good: Ethno/global nominees for the Emma prize

by Kare Eskola

The list of nominees suggests that the best ethno albums derive their energy from a collision of musical nuclei. Archive meets EDM, smooth meets rough, Karelia meets the Balkans.

Ánnámáret: Nieguid duovdagat

The cultural backdrop of Finland’s Sámi minority reinforces the musical richness of Ánnámáret so that the majority population can hear and connect with it.

“It’s a swirling, ethereal soundworld featuring Ánnámáret's voice, joined by the bowed strings of Ilkka Heinonen’s jouhikko, lyrical with an edgy bite, and the electronics by Turkka Inkilä. Ánnámáret is part of a powerful new force in Sámi music and identity.”

Celenka: Villoi varsa

Not every combination produces good world music, but when a Balkan edge is put on Karelian tradition by Celenka, the result is at once heart-wrenching and foot-tapping.

“Celenka present an ingenious and skilfully executed blend of musical ingredients: Finland and Karelia on the one hand, brash Balkan boisterousness on the other. There are raucous dances with shifting metres, but there are also melancholic melodic arcs and soft moods. What is very special is their intimate, chamber music approach.”

Désirée Saarela & Triskel: Brandliljor och Eldsjälar

Désirée Saarela has a knack for bringing true stories of Swedish-speaking Finnish women through tradition to a strong contemporary presence.

Ilkka Heinonen Trio: Lohtu

Progressive music devoid of genre by a band led by Finland’s weirdest folk instrument – what’s not to like?

“The rough sound of the jouhikko is endlessly fascinating. Here its organic unadorned sound is only offered in small doses, as the music-making embraces multiple dimensions, with electronic and experimental soundscapes.”

Suistamon Sähkö: Varokaa! Hengenvaara.

A roaring success with audiences, galloping EDM with sampled ethno material, relentless accordion and disturbing lyrics. This is the best that Finland has to offer for late night at world music festivals.

“These are the means for at once confusing and delighting the listener: unabashedly combining electronic dance music and samples with traditional material – folk tune scales, raw Karelian singing, Soviet toy accordions.”
- Helsingin Sanomat

Translation: Jaakko Mäntyjärvi
Featured photo: Suistamon sähkö