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Kreoli
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Kreoli
Suorastas, 2002 (www.suorastas.com)

cd cover This is the first offering from the little known Finnish band Kreoli, who hail from the Jyvaskyla region of central Finland. Kreoli consists chiefly of two artists, Tapani Vaahervaara and Timo Ostman, with the band expanding and contracting as the sound dictates. To call this "world music" would be an understatement - there are strands of influence from several genres, in no small way due to Ostman's affinity with African and Celtic traditions (he has spent several years studying and playing African music, more specifically, the mbira-guitar style of Zimbabwe, which he studied under the supervision of mbira great Chartwell Dutiro).
Listen!
"Leea"
Fans of Oliver Mtukudzi will recognise the opening track immediately - it is, indeed, "Neria" in Finnish clothing. A ballad of loss, death and the struggle to go on with life, this version brings an entirely new slant to the song, with slightly more aloof vocals than the original but with a guitar riff that clarifies and heightens the beauty of the simple melody. "Varpuinen" is a favourite. A quirky but rather dark Finnish Polska is given Zimbabwean treatment on this track to give birth to something truly inspirational, a track to get you moving if ever there was one. Djembe and mandolin sing together, interspersed with marimba and electric guitar, and the resultant sum is wholly superior to their individual parts, the whole picking its way over the mesmerising circular rhythms of Zimbabwe.

Listen!
"Neillin Marssi"
Kreoli slip into Radio Tarifa mode on "Ma'Qelah," a North African flavoured tune, with plenty of the essentials - ud (played by Egyptian native Aladin Abbas), heavy percussion, and, more unusually, lap steel. The Ostman-composed "Rastaan Tanssi" sees everything pared away to give precedence to the poignant and gentle acoustic guitar-dominated melody. Building up gradually, by the end of the tune there is a sense of awakening and timorous joy, and the listener is compelled to experience those emotions as the melody invites and captivates. Undoubtedly a focal point of the album.

Kreoli employ the use of space a great deal - nothing is overly instrumented and, as the band members themselves reveal, this is a very "roomy" soundscape, quite clutter-free. There is a lot on this album, but the bottom line is, it works, and it's a strong debut. Musical creolisation in the widest sense. - Jennifer Byrne

CD available at cdRoots


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