Mielo [Mind] is the second disc released by accordionist Maria Kalaniemi and harmonium player Eero Grundström. The duo gets off to a flying start with a joyously wild waltz – Erämorsian [Wildwood bride], a wedding waltz deep in the woods, or perhaps in a bog with rubber boots merrily clumping and only the sky above to witness the marriage!
The disc probes deep into the soul while simultaneously being so strongly connected to the environment that it is dedicated to the wilderness. The music is full of the power of nature, the aches and pains of finding the wings of one’s soul, and the joy of discovery when one finally finds them. The phrase ‘human nature’ springs to mind, listening to this fundamental encounter between human and nature.
Kalaniemi’s musical idiom is as compelling as ever, whether in the gentle melancholy of Lohtulaulu [Song of solace] or the majestic flight of Metsähanhet [Woodland geese], where her soaring vocal melodic lines are underpinned by a cheekily chirping accordion that sounds almost like heavy metal.
One might imagine that there is a large orchestra involved on this disc, but the sound is simply due to Grundström augmenting his harmonium with a modular synthesiser, creating thundering bass sounds and effects that make the harmonium sound like a percussion instrument, as in the ‘ethno-techno’ of Tulten poiga [Flame boy], where the modular synthesiser is used to great effect. Kalaniemi’s nuanced singing voice adds a new colour to her musical palette. The songs paint pictures where the listener can fill the music with their own story.
The repetitive melodies foster a meditative state, but the vivid rhythms exert a benevolent fury that propels the music forward. The impression is that despite the numerous merits that the duo already have to their credit, they are striving ever more fiercely to go further and deeper!
MARIA KALANIEMI & EERO GRUNDSTRÖM: Mielo
Åkerö Records ÅKERÖCD21, 2020
The Emma Gala 2021 - the Finnish equivalent to Grammy Awards, organised by IFPI Finland - took place in Helsinki on 14 May. “Mielo” by Maria Kalaniemi and Eero Grundström won the award for the Folk Album of the Year. Petri Kumela's “Small Creatures – A Musical Bestiary” won the award for the Classical Album of the Year, and the award for the year's Jazz Album went to Superposition for their “Superposition”. Young singer-songwriter Behm scored no less than seven awards.
The Virtual Kaustinen folk music festival takes place from 12 to 18 July, 2021. The programme includes a concert by Maria Kalaniemi & Eero Grundström – the festival’s Band of the Year 2021 – on 16 July. Find the link to the full festival programme here.