Various Artists

Arctic Paradise: Contemporary Finnish Folk Music 2003

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This is an insightful collection illustrating the vast spectrum of contemporary Finnish music. Like its two predecessors, Arctic Paradise: Finnish Folk Music 1999 and Arctic Paradise: Finnish Folk Music 2001, many types of music are explored, like the Celtic sounds of Markku Lepistö with strains of bluegrass, the cabaret-style playing of accordionist Maria Kalaniemi, the gypsy- and klezmer-directed Doina Klezmer, and the soothing neo-classical/folk of the Helsinki Mandoliners. Piirpauke's jazzy and folky sound combines the flute style of Ian Anderson with the swirling melodies of Penguin Café Orchestra and a warm, Charlie Haden-esque acoustic bassline. No Finnish music sampler would be complete without proper representation of the modern rock scene of that country. This compilation has several noteworthy entries in that category. Pohjannaula offers a rich collage of worldbeat and alternative rock, while Ulla Pirttijärvi's quirky and haunting style incorporates a slight techno rhythm. Gjallarhorn's lilting number resembles Capercaillie in its ability to fuse ancient melodies with modern rhythms. Perhaps Finland's most popular export is Värttinä, who exudes unbridled enthusiasm with their bright vocal harmonies and pop sensibilities. Their live selection, "Laulutyttö," is the highlight of this compilation.