Summer-Fun Sing-Along Songfest
Summer is fully blooming so I felt it was the right time to share with you some of the best, (mainly) Finnish summertime-fun tunes. So “tune in” for sunshine, happiness, and strawberries!
In Finland (and I suppose everywhere else), it’s a tradition to start talking as much bullshit as possible about how great an artist someone is whenever someone either scores a hit or shows originality in songwriting. This is why I was overjoyed when in the curious case of Mirel Wagner it wasn’t just talk. The austere arrangements and compositions, hypnotic songs about the hardships of life proved to be more. Getting signed to Sub Pop (and the inevitable “national export treasure”-talk that followed) didn’t affect her music. When The Cellar Children See The Light Of Day is still just her acoustic guitar playing simple tunes while she solemnly recites tales over them. Yet there is a broader scale of colors at play, and dark doesn’t always mean anguish. In fact I prefer her sophomore release. While I am fond of her music I’d rather not say too much; I’ll let you find out on your own.
I wish the other woman would shut up though.
In 2012 Anna Eriksson released Mana. It was not an album I had expected from one of the biggest Iskelmä(-pop) stars of recent memory. If you’re wondering what iskelmä is, let me say it’s to Finnish people what country is to ‘Muricans and schlager to Germans. Except musically they aren’t that close to country and iskelmä-influenced music has ranged from foxtrot to heavy metal. It’s as Finnish as it gets, unfortunately. I hate it. From the bottom of my heart, lying in the bottom of the ocean where I left it after listening to Mana. There are a couple of ways to approach this album. One, you can look at it as an “opportunistic fruit of an artist sliding from iskelmä to pop”, or you can be sensible and look at it as a dark album, creating an aura of weakness around the singer behind it. A weakness that is no more than an unreal disguise hiding the determination and satisfaction-to-circumstances that would not be so well regarded given a more straight approach. And sometimes, sometimes I am overcome with sheer terror. Desperation, loneliness and yearning seep from this album, but never have I been sure whose they are, hers or mine. There are songs that are closer to happiness than misery but with dark undertones that, in the end, leave no more joyous taste in your mouth than the rest. Once I heard a tale, a tale of two men. A man desperate to escape the clutches of his pursuer, heartless and acting on a whim. And of this pursuer who, being as heartless as he was said to be, literally tore his blood-pumping organ from his chest as a useless mechanism. Mana made me sympathize with the latter. Whatever joy you may find in life will eventually fade into a bitter aftertaste and misery, so why not get rid of it all.
If a heart I had, miss you I would. I tore it away for it does not need me. If a heart I had, miss you I would. If a heart I had, die here I would.
Keinuva Lahna (engl: swinging beam) was a unique, almost one-off band in the early nineties, formed mainly by the members from YUP, Elinan Surma and Stray Toasters. Rock, samba, funk, jazz, and blues met poetry and country played by a punk band. Nothing, ever, had sounded like them. Nor would anything sound like it again. I have absolutely no idea how I should try to sell this band to you, so it’s perhaps best if you press play on this recently released masterpiece (both EP’s together sold out in two seconds). You can try the previously unreleased song “Homokemikaaleja” or the remastered “Saatanan taajuus“. I’m going to embed the whole original releases below, but I don’t know how long they are going to be available.
Whenever Keinuva Lahna is discussed (or mentioned), it is obligatory to tell everyone to try Ahnal Avuniek, a Greenlandic performance group performing “Suujaat Nanataas“, apparently a very famous piece, the original recordings of which are extremely sought after.
I don’t quite know why but of all the melodeath albums that are, this one has always seemed the most summer to me. Maybe it’s the inevitable notion of the heat of a scorched desert desolation that a true summer equals that comes from a word like Fallout. Or maybe it’s Slumber’s near-perfect distribution of power between the melodies and the atmosphere. It may be a bleak one, but once the night falls bleakness and not joy is what I ask for, regardless of the season. The harmonized leads moving these doomy songs do little to lift them from the depths of misery, but rarely do they turn outright mournful. Perhaps this is the secret of the “summer”-feel Fallout has. And then of course there is the rather easy-going feeling. When mixing the dark and the beautiful it is surprisingly easy to become menacing, yet Slumber on their only full-length managed to maintain a certain relaxation to their sound. Undoubtedly all of these affect its “feel” and have helped it become the summer melodeath(/doom) album.