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Ville Kangas
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Ville Kangas
Suuri Erehdys (Great Mistake)
Folk Music Institute, Finland

cd cover Finnish multi-instrumentalist Ville Kangas is probably best known for fiddling with Prusikoukku, an outstanding, Kaustinen-based band whose one album, Mahtava, was one of the best Finnish CDs never to be re-released here in the US. Suuri Erehdys doesn't really sound like Prusikoukku; instead, it's a juxtaposition of several types of music: folk, pop and ambient. The album doesn't highlight Kangas as fiddler, though you can hear him on violin, bouzouki, keyboards and bass guitar. It is rather Kangas' role as a composer, producer, and conceptualist that is on exhibit.

The Great Mistake is named for the last track, a pop song about the way humans have abused the environment, sung by Jonna Tervomaa (her last name can be translated as "healthy land"). Ismo Alanko sings a very simple "Miksi en saanut lapsena kuolla" from a poem written by Kangas' grandfather, Wiljami Niittykoski, who nearly died from illness at 20. Life is simpler when one dies young. Tellu Tuerkka sings a fishing song from the Kalevala called "Rysä" (this can also be heard on the Piniartut recording they did together last year). It has a jangly Värttinä-like sound. "Vapauden Aave" is a pop-humppa song, written and sung by Jarkko Martikainen, about the "ghost of freedom" we can never catch, but who still haunts us. "Pieni morsiuneito" is sung in childlike manner by Tuija Myllykangas, a "little bridesmaid" who is joyful at her parent's marriage.

The intercolated instrumentals are sometimes almost traditional, sometimes experimental. They push off in a pretty and later recurring Prusikoukku-JPP style, and include as overlays melodic, percussive Saami chants, ambient whales, gentle fiddle and fret interludes, gurgles, Kalevalic spells backed by the sound of the wind and electric bass, heroic tide-like keyboards, gizmo loops, and ghost voices from the past. Some effectively evoke real images, for instance, "Where the Swans Of Passage Rest..." recreates waves gently lapping onto a shore as waterbirds sing their own language.

"Miksi en saanut lapsena kuolla"
Like the color-altered art photos of natural things that overwhelm the sparse words in the CD booklet, the selections on this CD are art-altered natural folk soundscapes. Perhaps the theme is hope for a better world, because all the kindly resources are here for us to do that. Kangas has an ear for melody and a gift for arrangement and synthesis. The perfection, the sweetness, the skillful synthesis and experiment, and the pop/rock folkways at times may remove too many of the rough edges for even the moderate traditionalist, and make her long for a constant JPP-on-speed approach. It is the strength of the melodies and the force of percussion, not the perfection, that has kept Suuri Erehdys on my own current play stack. - Judith Gennett

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