in Reviews

The most Finnish music possible?

by Eero Koski

"One instantly gets the concept when a tango album begins with the sound of an Indian tambura drone!"

Strangely enough, the fusion of tango, electronica and instrumental guitar-band rock (known in Finnish as ‘iron wire’, rautalanka) results in some of the most Finnish music possible.

Guitarist and vocalist Jukka Orma's Argentiinan pusta is woven with intertextual references to Finnish music and culture. The name of the album calls on South America but this is not the harbour of Buenos Aires we are visiting: the Finnish tangos on Argentiinan pusta have been re-interpreted for decades within the local tango tradition. It is clear that Jukka Orma's own re-imagination of tango springs from this local sub-genre.

That being said, there is often a little more than the melody left of the originals on Argentiinan pusta. The interpretations are a wild mix of different world music traditions and Orma's own electric visions. One instantly gets the concept when a tango album begins with the sound of an Indian tambura drone! 

With a dogmatic rigour the songs are always introduced first as a guitar melody and sung only thereafter by Orma. Is this out of respect to the original masters of the craft or simply a new concept for tango? Either or, the electric guitar takes the wheel on this one. 

A native listener will instantly recognize Orma's dark voice and phrasing as they share distinct tones with his former employer and band mate, Finnish rock legend Ismo Alanko. The sparse instrumentation brings an overall static feeling to the music. Along the way the guitarist is heard in duets with himself in musical situations that at their best remind us of Ry Cooder and Manuel Galban on Mambo Sinuendo. 

Jukka Orma and the producer/drummer Mamba Assefa keep the door firmly open to the world of electronica during the whole recording. The more traditionalist listener might find themselves longing for a slightly more acoustic approach. But this is the "rautalanka" tango of the year 2022. 

Jukka Orma: Argentiinan Pusta

Jukka Orma, guitar, vocals, piano
Mamba Assefa, percussions
Eeva Koivusalo, double bass
Jukka Gustavson, hammond

Emsalö Music, 2021