It was worth waiting six years for the second album of the Ilkka Heinonen Trio. It is pretty much impossible to pigeonhole this album in terms of genre. Heinonen plays the jouhikko, a traditional instrument with which folk music and world music aficionados are surely familiar, but the musical approach of the trio is astonishingly broad, with surprises to be found on every track.
The rough sound of the jouhikko is endlessly fascinating. Here, however, its organic unadorned sound is only offered in small doses, as the music-making embraces multiple dimensions, with electronic and experimental soundscapes. The trio presents a finely balanced performance: bass player Nathan Riki Thomson is likewise known for his exploration of sonorities, and brilliant percussionist Mikko Hassinen turns his hand elegantly to electronic embellishments too.
In addition to the folk music scene, Ilkka Heinonen has been active in early music in recent years, and Baroque music is very much in evidence on the present album. A single track may accommodate both Vivaldi-like arpeggios and electronic distortion. The wonderful vocals of Maija Kauhanen appear on one track. Heinonen himself is in voice less than on the trio’s début album, but the pleasure is all the greater once he does begin singing.
The Ilkka Heinonen Trio operates with a broad and downright electrifying range of colours. This is not necessarily easy listening, but on the other hand the album reveals new facets of itself each time one dives into it.
Ilkka Heinonen Trio: Lohtu
Rockadillo Records ZENCD 2176
Translation: Jaakko Mäntyjärvi