Suden Aika - Etsijš
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Suden Aika
Etsijš
Alba Records (www.alba.fi)

cd cover Sudan Aika is a quartet of boundary-bashing Finnish women vocalists. Though they base their sound in the Finnish rune-singing tradition, their style has more in common with avant-garde artists such as Laurie Anderson or Iva Bittova. They push their voices beyond what is conventionally considered beautiful a la Lila Downs and stack their harmonies in unusual ways a la Ulali. Their voices blend so beautifully that it's almost jarring to hear each voice solo, so disparate are they. The disc is almost all a cappella, with an occasional touch of kantele or moraharppu. Instruments would only get in the way of the intricate interplay of voices. The opening track, "Armoton (Orphan)" has sections of hocket alternating with chorale-like segments and Balkan-sounding harmonies.

Listen!
The lengthy, anthemic title track (which means "Seeker") has a moraharppu drone grinding away underneath dissonant harmonies. The women break into a harsh, nasal tone at one point and then sing quietly over shh sounds. "Sisarueni" is a light, feminine celebration of sisterhood in which the voices effervesce over the syllables "si-so." Nearly half of the disc is devoted to singer Tellu Turkka's tragic, nightmarish ballad, "Enkelit (Angels)." The seven-part epic runs the gamut from a quiet sense of impending menace to maniacal laughter and jungle sounds over a heavy-breathing ostinato. It ends with calm, consonant chords reflecting acceptance of tragedy and hope for a better life beyond death. The whole CD is brilliantly conceived and executed, with the balance and color of a good painting. - Peggy Latkovich

CD available from cdRoots


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