Howling jouhikko, throbbing beats, text served up as spoken word, as rap and at times as singing. On their third disc, haapoja & illmari kollektiivi remain firmly committed to the path they have established. I enjoy the world they create, where a folk music mood coexists with rap aesthetics and a soundscape vibe. Folk music is in the air, and the sound is so earthy you can practically hear the soil under the fingernails. Mikko Haapoja, who is principally in charge of creating the musical universe, is familiar with folk music and uses it as an exotic source. Lukas Kristo adds organic value to the mix, particularly on the harmonium.
Many of the ten tracks on the album are built on twilight moods and poetic imagery. I would have liked to hear contrasts in the form of bright weather and punches to the solar plexus. The texts glide amiably by like landscapes seen through a bus window, except for the occasional arresting line that provides a firmer hook. Sometimes a single powerful musical element drives an entire track, be it a magical vocal melody (Mainen) or an ominous martial rhythm (Kuljetaan).
illmari, the principal wordsmith, has an amiable voice. For me, he is the most effective when telling a story (Aikalaisvalssi), making me prick up my ears and feel just a bit closer to him. Folk singer Amanda Kauranne complements him well, bringing hymn tunes, runo singing and laments to the mix. Mostly, however, she weaves wordless melodies around the textual core.
haapoja & illmari kollektiivi: Huomeneen
Mikko H. Haapoja, HAACD03, 2022
Translation: Jaakko Mäntyjärvi