posted on 12/2006 By:
What’s On Tap: Despondent neo-folk-inspired music from one of the masters of the genre.
This year’s Maaäet was my first exposure to Finland’s Tenhi, and based on how often I spun the record over the course of a month, I was pretty quick on the trigger when I saw this particular release roll into our queue. Airut:Aamujen is not a new recording from our Finnish friends, however, it’s a re-release of the second installment in their Airut series, with the third chapter, Savoie, directly on the horizon. For those of you already familiar with the material this project typically produces, you’ll need no further convincing from the likes of me, but if you’re not, and consider yourself a fan of forlorn, folk-inspired music, it’s time to push this and the rest of their catalog to the top of your ‘to investigate further’ list.
Airut:Aamujen is a wonderfully somber recording. Not necessarily the sort of gloom that’ll immediately have you brushing up on your hangman’s knot, but rather the kind of gloom that’s strangely comforting, and certainly inviting enough to warrant plenty of revisits as the record slowly sets its wintry tendrils deep within your brain. Nine tunes of heavy-heartedness, expressed fundamentally through the sounds of a piano, but interspersed with light drums, occasional bass, sporadic acoustic guitars, and generous doses of male and female vocals.
Highlights for bleak bastards such as myself arise when the band splays their hand overtly and shoot directly for the listener’s heartstrings. The incredibly funereal instrumental opening track, “Saapuminen”, and the down-right dirge like “Oikea sointi” and “Kahluu” are perfect examples of this, and would serve as faultless companions during a long walk on a cold, gray winter’s day. Tenhi pull a couple more aces from their sleeve with slightly (and I do mean slightly) less despondent tunes such as “Kuvajainen” and closer “Läheltä”, both of which immediately conjure thoughts of Charles Schultz’s glum-lord, Chuck Brown, as he slowly walks with head hung low, pining over ‘the little red-haired girl’ to the accompaniment of Schroeder’s bleak tinkering. The Swans-inspired, post-industrial folk-flavored “Luopumisen Laulu” took a bit more time for me to warm up to, and I’m afraid it’s unlikely I’ll ever be able to wrap my brain around the cacophonous, uneven eighth track, “Hiensunty”, but these are relatively minor blemishes on an otherwise richly rewarding release.
I know a few of our readers have been quick to criticize us for allowing non-metal to be reviewed here, but I truly believe a release such as Airut:Aamujen can kindle the same sort of melancholy emotions fans of dispiriting metal are used to (ahem) enjoying, especially when given time to completely absorb. Hell, I'd even go so far as to say Airut:Aamujen is the only example of 'piano doom' in my collection, and it's certainly one I'd feel comfortable recommending to our readers with a penchant for all that's gloomy. Seek and purchase.
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