Piirpauke celebrates 25 years as a living entity with this mostly reissued collection commemorating the national epic. At about the same time Jethro Tull unveiled the rustic fusion of "Songs From The Wood", Piirpauke began its career gilding a modern Finnish legacy as an improvising rock ensemble fascinated equally by folk music and jazz. In this anniversary edition lone remaining original member and principal composer Sakari Kukko heads the decade-separated sextets Piirpauke and Kalevala Spirit in a Karelian and Ingrian rune song-inspired music.
Initiated as commissions to mark the anniversary of the Kalevala, ten of the fifteen tracks come from the 1985 Piirpauke album "Wild East", while the remaining five are attributed to sessions begun in 1997 with a different sextet. With the exception of the latter's violinist, the two groups sound remarkably similar. Kit drums, bass, electric guitar, percussion, and of course Kukko's flutes, saxophones, kanteles and keyboards weave a kinetic, timbrally dense, and melodic approach with plenty of grooving improv breaks. The four-part 14 minute suite "Vainamoinen's Joy of Playing" with its hypnotic folk vocals caps off a set built on electric instrumentals. From 1989 on Piirpuake became a more world music oriented, and less Finnish, band.
The sound here is one that will appeal to progressive music listeners outside of Finland who remember the Piirpauke from the 1980s, and others searching for earlier, radically innovative takes on traditional material. Both of these bands presented under Kukko's direction show unignorable dexterity and invigorating originality, not to mention a unique sonic signature. - Steve Taylor
CD available at cdRoots.com