In a world which is so immensely loud, and as volatile as it is right now, to find something so unique, and soothing is a rarity. In Šamane is the solution to the quandary of how we resolve this burden. For those of you willing to take a chance, and explore new territories, the new Self-Titled album by Šamane could well reward you with the unloading that is necessary to achieve a quieter mind.
The sophomore release for Saara Šamane, and is the natural follow up to two thousand and nineteen’s Kaukana Virtaa Eufrat. A native of Tampere, Finland, and performs in Finnish, which, unless you’re versed in the northern dialect, will be quite alien to understand. This in no way detracts from the music though, it’s beautifully stripped back, and several tracks rely solely on nothing more than an ethereal vocal and soft drum pattern.
Often seen as experimental folk, or world music, because of its content, Šamane mixes both eastern and western sounds, each track is unique, in its simplicity and by its very nature. One minute we could be in Apache Indian territory, while a second later be transported to the Middle East, and themes of the Orient. So vast is the scope of sounds, that to find out that Šamane is actually from Finland, did come as somewhat of a surprise, as going solely from the music, you would point more towards an Arabic background.
That being said, this album is as stripped back as it gets, the entity that is Šamane actually only comprises of Saara herself, and her husband PA Kiiskilä, of post-punk band Grave Pleasures. While Saara provides all vocal duties and instrumental accompaniments of guitar, bass, a self-made drum and piano, like on the instrumental Mustarastas, PA contributes the sounds of an Arabic oud lute and additional guitars. Yes, it really is that stripped back.
Over the course of the ten tracks, we’re sonically whisked around the globe and as opener Valaisija begins, it’s instantly obvious that this isn’t going to be a heavy affair. Its moody, eerie ambience, complete with ethereal vocal textures, sets the scene. By the time track two, Aurinko TähdetKuu is upon us, being submerged isn’t an option. The tribal drum, mixed with a haunting vocal, sets up a real spiritual vibe, and the beautiful guitar entices us in, somewhat like a snake being played by its charmer. The charmers flute whistling in the background, behind the drum, really pushes this concept on to us, leaving us in no doubt as to its international flavor.
an absolutely beautiful, spiritual piece of work…
Track four, Saraimai, has a more vibrant, and upbeat feel. The vocal works incredibly well over an Arabic backdrop. It feels somewhat spiritual, and compelling. It invites us to sway, and become immersed in its beauty. This, for me, is a real highlight, requiring multiple plays. By complete contrast, the following track, On Rakennettava Understaan literally chimes in with an oriental bell. Themes of the orient replace the vibe of its Arabic predecessor, and thoughts of Japan fill my mind.
Track eight, Palaako Aika, Nieleekö Tuli, promises to really take off, it hints at a build up throughout the opening verses, but ultimately just teases us into believing that it will explode in to a flurry of overblown heaviness. It doesn’t, and remains on its perch, gently dropping off at the end.
For me personally, track nine, Sisältä Toisensa, is the highlight. According to Google, it translates into English as ‘inside each other’. This comes as no surprise as it’s a sexually charged piece; it sways, somewhat like a ceremonial dance at a wedding, and is definitely one of the more tense tracks, in comparison to the rest of the album. The guitar also spiritually wails at one point, and it’s so interesting to hear it cut through, a truly unique sound indeed.
As closing track Kun Tuntee Mustaa closes the album, we are off again, returning to the orient for one final time. It’s a beautiful finish, so simple, majestic really.
This album won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, not by a long shot, but it is, none the less, an absolutely beautiful, spiritual piece of work. It is not at all what I was expecting when I first played it through, but now having listened to it a good dozen or so times, I’m absolutely enchanted. There are no pompous, overblown power trip pieces of music, just subtle, and at times haunting, tracks, and in the simplicity lies the beauty.
In a time where everything is so fast paced, and there’s a constant push for everything right now, on demand, to be able to just stop, and listen to this properly, really is wonderful and calming. It definitely keeps the demons at bay, that’s for sure.
Scribed by: Lee Beamish