Sanna Kurki-Suonio

Musta

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This album is a bit of a switch from the work Sanna Kurki-Suonio has done as a supplementary member of Hedningarna ("the Heathens"). The treatment of this material sits much more squarely in the art-rock school of Danielle Dax and Kate Bush than in the folk-rooted tradition she is better known for abroad. The lyrics (or at least the English translations thereof) are the strongest link to folk tradition; they have the simple poetic quality of songs and spells mentioned in fairy tales. Despite the title of the album (Musta means "black" or "dark" in Finnish), it isn't particularly depressing or gloomy. It gives the feeling of being alone in nature, but not lonely -- the solitaire of exulting in strong winds or a witchy dance by a bonfire. Kurki-Suonio creates this soundscape by layering her voice over various drones and/or percussion. Sometimes the drone is created by accordion, sometimes by a synth voice reminiscent of a didgeridoo; sometimes it is merely implied by the absence of complex chord changes. She uses her voice in a percussive and onomatopoeic manner as background to the more jewel-like quality of her lead singing voice. Although she does not use the vibratoless voice used by other Finnish singers such as those in Värttinä, she does occasionally sing further back in the throat and uses vocal cries similar to those one would hear in the work of Kate Bush or Yoko Ono. Kurki-Suonio's skill as a vocal arranger shows in the tapestry she weaves for Musta. Although several different producers worked on the various tracks, too many cooks didn't spoil this broth.

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