Solju is a duo formed by Ulla Pirttijärvi, a pioneer of modern yoik, and her daughter Hildá Länsman, a rising star of Sámi music. In Finland, Solju was introduced to the wider audiences in 2015 through the UMK New Music Competition, a selection event for the Eurovision Song Contest, although their entry “Hold Your Colours” gave the impression of a more mainstream pop style.
The duo’s fresh debut album is sung exclusively in their native Sámi language, and the yoik flows in the heart of the music. In addition to her Sámi roots, Hildá’s beautiful singing is heavily influenced by contemporary pop expression. The album’s two producers, Samuli Laiho and Teho Majamäki (who also features in the group’s touring ensemble), are better known for their involvement with other music genres, also mainstream pop.
With the exception of one traditional yoik, the music and lyrics are written by Pirttijärvi and Länsman. Laiho and Majamäki demonstrate a clear vision as arrangers and producers of the material, with their arrangements including both amplified and acoustic instruments. Some of the most successful fusions of different elements can be heard in the tracks titled Heargevuoddji (Reindeer Driver), Irgeávnnas (Boyfriend-to-Be) and Ođđa Áigodat (New Times), the album’s gloomily beautiful title track. The string section, provided by the Czech Symphony Orchestra, adds to the rugged beauty of the title track.
However, there is yet more potential to be harnessed. Although the album is definitely one of the most intriguing and sophisticated representatives of its genre, the group could evolve and unify their vision even further for their next album.
SOLJU: Ođđa Áigodat
Ulla Pirttijärvi - vocals, yoik
Hildá Länsman - vocals, yoik
Samuli Laiho - programming, synths, gtr, piano, glockenspiel
Teho Majamäki - percussion, vibes, hang
Czech National Symphony Orchestra - strings
Paavo Lötjönen - cello
Mikko Neuvonen - throat singing
Janne Puurtinen - synth bass, synth
Bafe's Factory 2018
Translation: Hanna-Mari Latham