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Jorma Tapio & Terje Isungset - Aihki (2006)

Some particularly impressive shamanistic improv from the Norwegian/Finnish duo of Terje Isungset and Jorma Tapio. The boundless multi-instrumentalism of the two performers is something to behold, with Isungset’s percussion extending far beyond the realms of conventional drumming (apparently he fashions his own instruments from natural elements like arctic birch, granite, slate and ice), and similarly, Tapio’s woodwind playing seems to transcend the conventional language of the that family of instruments, especially on the appropriately titled ‘Nocturnal Wind From The Lake’, which mimics the natural sounds suggested by the title. The closest Aihki comes to conventional jazz improvisation is on the extended jam, ‘Salainen Tuli/Secret Fire’, which as the album’s centrepiece sees the duo running through their expansive repertoire. Beginning as a caterwauling free music workout, the piece eventually dissolves into the more esoteric, spiritual sounds that characterise this set of recordings, and make them so unique. (source)

While the name Jorma Tapio may not be familiar to you, the name Terje Isungset sure as heck should. He's the man responsible for the Igloo record, a past record of the week, recorded entirely on instruments made from ice. We've been selling that like CRAZY, when all of a sudden we got an email from Jussi (Circle, Pharaoh Overlord, etc.) letting us know that his label Ektro was releasing a brand new record by Isungset, teamed up with some guy names Tapio. We were of course intrigued, but had no idea what to expect. And had we actually expected something, we probably never would have guessed how weird and wonderful this record would be. No ice instruments sad to say, but armed with flutes, bells, voices, kantele, percussion, Jew's harp and lots and lots of drums, these two whip up a super wild and wooly, ultra dense blast of what we can only describe as tribal forest folk free jazz. Or something like that.

Free jazz is probably the closest comparison, the first few tracks are dense psychedelic percussive freak outs, lots of splattery spastic free jazz drumming all over the place, deep bowed bass, steel string zings, and super creepy strangled and howled vocalizations. Everything sounds very primal and tribal, thick swaths of rhythmic throb underpinned by shimmering washes of cymbal sizzle and warbly mumbled melodies. Isungset proves to be a pretty bad ass drummer, whipping up some seriously wild squalls of spastic skitter, and octopoidal crash and bang. The vocals grunt and chant, sort of yodel, and hoot and holler, very festive and just a little nuts sounding. When the drums recede a bit, the band sort of wonders through some ancient forest, fluttering flutes, simple subtle percussion, distant drones. A bit reminiscent of Avarus or Anaksimandros for sure. The 20+ minute centerpiece, the track "Selainin Tuli / Sacred Fire" lets the duo spread way out, and lay out an expansive tribal soundscape, like the earlier 'free jazz' tracks but stripped way down. Hints of No Neck Blues Band and Sunburned Hand definitely surface now and then, the track eventually building to a howling shrieking psych drone freakout before settling back to almost complete silence. then a gentle lilting smudge of soft flutes and abstract clatter. That smeared clatter sort of drifts into the next two songs, disembodied scrapes and creaks, random bits of percussion, thick washes of low end thrum, quite dark an lovely.

The final track is a flittering flutescape, a spare landscape of woodwinds and distant shimmer, which is soon joined by a buzzing Jew's harp, and the harp and flutes get all tangled up into a strangely propulsive groove, some sort of skeletal prog laced with primal psych rock primitivism and festive Renn Faire revelry, like stumbling into some clearing in the woods and finding some strange open air market, with a very strange duo performing before a crowd of rapt onlookers. Weird, but pretty darn cool as well.

Finnish music obsessives need this no matter what. Lovers of that modern free folk new weird America thing might just find that this pushes all their buttons, and REALLY REALLY open minded jazz heads might also want to give this a try. Highly recommended! (Aquarius Records) (source)

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I have no idea what this is going to sound like, but I'm sure I'm going to have fun finding out, thanks very much!

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