in Reviews

Modern lament disc on timeless topics

by Amanda Kauranne

"Improvisations and more dynamic pieces build up into a disc that is heartache-inducing and challenging"

The début disc of Project Vainiolla Ensemble features the prepared piano of Kalle Vainio and the modern but tradition-oriented lament poetry of Emmi Kuittinen. Their acoustic, partly electronic music is augmented by kantele players Sarah Palu and Johanna Tarkkanen and by wind players Erika Hammarberg and Heli Hartikainen.

The disc is based on a sound world rich in detail, including nature sounds, and it is best enjoyed with headphones. Vainio spares no effort up to and including scratching and banging to extract every last shred of colour from his prepared piano. Kuittinen’s expressive voice breathes life into the folk lament tradition, as she has complete command of the symbolism and touching metaphors of traditional laments.

Improvisations and more dynamic pieces build up into a disc that is heartache-inducing and challenging, which is scarcely surprising considering that the topics covered include war, death and forced relocation – topics that remain fresh and painful from one century to another. Yet this is not a disc of dark despair; amidst the many shades of sorrow there is hope.

Translation: Jaakko Mäntyjärvi

Kalle Vainio (keyboards, percussion, compositions, arrangements, production, recording, mixing)
Emmi Kuittinen (vocals, lyrics, compositions) 
Johanna Tarkkanen (kanteles)
Sarah Palu (harp)
Erika Hammarberg (trumpet, cornet, percussion)
Mirva Soininen (vocals, percussion)
Heli Hartikainen (saxophones)