The first studio album by Sans has done well on international world music charts and earned glowing reviews – with good reason. Sans have captured a rare beauty in delving into the diverse musical backgrounds and skills of the band members.
The band was established at the beginning of the decade by British multi-instrumentalists Andrew Cronshaw and Ian Blake, Armenian duduk maestro Tigran Aleksanyan and Sanna Kurki-Suonio, who by now has become something of a cult figure for Finnish folk music aficionados. The newest member, added for this disc, is Sanna’s daughter Erika Hammarberg, whose enchanting voice could have been given more exposure.
The opening track, Pursi (The Rowing Song), is almost magically lovely, combining a Gaelic melody with Finnish lyrics, kanteles, zithers and the wonderful sound of the duduk. This sets the bar perhaps too high, at least for me, because one feels compelled to return to it again and again, even though the disc contains many other gems besides.
Considering how broad the range of instruments played by the band members is and how extensive their (world) music knowledge is, one could expect there to be a risk of producing a disc with too much of everything, yet this disc is admirably restrained. Every track gives space precisely to those elements that are essential to the piece. Impeccable producer Jim Sutherland is no doubt partly to thank for this.
Translation: Jaakko Mäntyjärvi
Sanna Kurki-Suonio (vocals, kantele)
Erika Hammarberg (vocals, kantele)
Andrew Cronshaw (zither, marovantele)
Tigran Aleksanyan (duduk)
Ian Blake (bass clarinet, soprano saxophone, bass, melodica, vocals)
Cloud Valley 2018