Our second Portals feature takes us to Finland, where local musician and guest-writer Utu Lautturi dives into some of the many musicians and styles to emerge from this beautiful nordic country.
Utu Lautturi is a Finnish multidisciplinary artist, composer and experimentalist, living and breathing audio and visual arts since early childhood. Immersed in nature worship, the arcane and mythical, bending all boundaries of auditive self-expression, Utu has slowly gained recognition for his strong organic ambient/experimental releases and intense live performances as well as collaborative works with various native and international artists. Utu's debut album, Nielu, was released in January 2015 through Pale Noir.
With such high regard for the many artists and musicians to emerge from his country, I couldn't imagine a better voice to guide us through the rich spectrum of music that has grown from the mystical rivers and woodlands of Finland in recent years. Utu has selected some of the most interesting artists and styles of Finnish introspective music, portraying acoustic and electronic elements, as well as fusions, landing on a ten-track mix of lesser-known and more internationally popular artists. And as with every Portal's feature, Utu has dug-deep into the featured tracks and given us everything we need to explore even further.
The Varpuja of Finland, by Utu Lautturi.
In a country as small as Finland, the borders between artists creating different types of ambient/electronic/atmospheric music are artificial at best. Contrary to Finnish artists' achievements in heavy metal or psy-trance scenes, it is impossible to decipher or pin-point any distinctive style or "sound" in what I like to call, by a broader term, Finnish introspective music (engulfing styles such as ambient, electronic, ethnic, electroacoustic, neofolk and others).
It's common for musicians from different styles to collaborate, creating a plethora of musical fusions. However, I feel Finnish introspective artists have something in common. There is an indescribable melancholic magic present in their music, a fluid solidness, a solemn intent of sorts. To me, this magic is entwined with the awe-inspiring extremes present in Finnish nature. It is the magic of endless mid-summer light when the burning eye of the sky barely scathes the horizon for weeks. It is the magic of the long polar night when even tiny glimpses of the sun might stretch to over a month in-between. Spring and Autumn in Finland are both short, colorful bursts full of wonder, inducing a strong sense of cyclic change. Perhaps it's this naturally enforced surrender unto the change of seasons, or the fact that even from the largest cities you're never more than half an hour away from vast forests, lakes and rivers, that helps us reflect upon Finnish music as primarily organic, even when produced solely by electronic means.
With the sounds of traditional instruments like the Kantele and Jouhikko (both capable of producing beautiful ambience and droney atmospheres) engraved in our cultural genes it is no wonder Finns are easily drawn towards introspective music. Not to forget, as a natural consequence of living in a country with an often harsh winter lasting up to six months there's a lot of time to sink inward, both to create music and to enjoy the creations of others.
Brelo - Pohjoinen (North)
Brelo is a group of Kantele players exploring the boundaries of traditional and modern composition. In Pohjoinen [North] Brelo do homage to our northern landscape by conjuring simple yet vivid pictures both bright and dim. The track is taken from Brelo's 2009 release Uusikuu [New Moon] which features enjoyable variations of different types of Kantele playing. The versatile Kantele also suits a wider spectrum of ambient music extremely well, as can be heard in the beautiful compositions from the likes of Finnish ambient projects Marrasmaa and Nest (not to be confused with the sublime Norway/UK-based ambient/electronica project of the same name). Last summer A.T. of Nest invited people virtually to follow a live Kantele performance at his home, which you can watch here.