Review: Tenhi - Folk Aesthetic 1996-2006 (2007)


artist: Tenhi
release: Folk Aes­thetic 1996-2006
format: 3xCD
year of release: 2007
label: Proph­ecy
dur­a­tion: 3:00:39

detailed info: dis​cogs​.com

This 3-CD col­lec­tion cel­eb­rates the 10 year anniversary of Tenhi in 2006. Over the years, these Finns have released four full-length albums and two EPs, con­tain­ing what I con­sider to be some of the finest folk-influenced acous­tic music of today. The Folk Aes­thetic set is an over­view of some of the more dif­fi­cult to find mater­ial by the band, includ­ing the demo, EPs, and loads of unre­leased tracks and altern­at­ive ver­sions. At the same time, it func­tions as show­case of the diversity of the band, and the pro­gres­sion they’ve made over the years. It’s all pack­aged in a gor­geous digi­pak - as we’ve come to expect - along with a very extens­ive book­let, which shows some of the latest visual art­works by the band. Indeed, you can’t detach one form of art from the other when it comes to Tenhi.

I’ll begin with an over­view of what the three CDs con­tain. The first one has all the offi­cial releases by the band. In the first place, this is the quite rare Ker­tomuk­sia demo from 1997. It con­tains early ver­sions of two tracks which later ended up on albums, as well as a unique one, “Havuisissa Saleissa”. This second track shows some of the faint heavy metal influ­ences in the early stages of the band, with an aggress­ive sound in the drum­ming and vocals, which def­in­itely fits the song, how­ever. “Tenhi” is also an inter­est­ing ver­sion of later track on Väre, fea­tur­ing field record­ings and effects, which suits this calm instru­mental very well. The Hal­lave­det MCD is another one from the early days, which doesn’t quite reach up to the level of the 1999 debut album Kauan yet. Airut:ciwi is an entirely dif­fer­ent case though. This EP from 2001 is quite excel­lent, espe­cially the won­der­ful “Kielo” which, in this ver­sion, is one of my favour­ite tracks by the band over­all. Only the inclu­sion of this EP should already be reason enough for Tenhi enthu­si­asts to buy this col­lec­tion.

But, there’s more, of course! The second CD con­tains a mish­mash of altern­at­ive ver­sions and new tracks. The first song, “Kausi­en­ranta”, is one of those new ones, and it rep­res­ent­at­ive of the elab­or­ate style of the band right now. It was ori­gin­ally recor­ded for Maaäet, but now sees light here, with an accom­pa­ny­ing music video, which is more than worth check­ing out. Most of the other tracks on this CD are altern­at­ive or demo ver­sion of album tracks, which show a dif­fer­ent side of these exist­ing songs. Most of them are really inter­est­ing, like “Suor­tuva” with drums and “Tuulenkato” with added gui­tar. Some other tracks are new: “Lin­nuit” is a calm guitar-based song, also writ­ten recently, which shows a very nice new side of the band. “Sydän­valkea” was released on the web sev­eral years ago, but remained a fan-only obscur­ity. It’s nice to see it back here, as it’s a fine piece of typ­ic­ally Tenhi ‘gui­tar and vocals’. A final men­tion goes to the final track, “Niin Auer Hilja Vie”, a bril­liant gui­tar instru­mental, and another one of my favour­ite tracks.

The last CD is a ‘new’ album put together from reworked demos and unre­leased tracks. It con­tains a nice mix of new and old mater­ial, mostly quite impres­sion­istic in style, and not as elab­or­ately writ­ten as the later album mater­ial. On the whole, I think this res­ults in a slightly lesser qual­ity level than on those latest albums, but there is still a lot of good mater­ial in here. “Sarah­dus” is a good example, a very simple but moody piano track, which was also released online a couple of years ago, only to dis­ap­pear shortly after. “Tuuli Varista” com­bines excel­lent gui­tar work with bril­liant a capella singing in the middle part of the track, show­ing another new side of the band. This middle part is quite ambi­ent like, the vocals fad­ing into dark effects. Near the end, the gui­tar melody returns. And I just have to men­tion the final track of this col­lec­tion, “Neidiie”. It was recor­ded for the Airut:aamujen ses­sions, but got left out. I’m not sure why, but I’m glad it returns here. An abso­lutely bril­liant piano bal­lad with a deep, hope­ful melody.

I feel one shouldn’t approach this col­lec­tion as a whole; it might be a bit too inco­her­ent to be able to ser­vice as a ‘big album’. How­ever, it is incred­ibly sat­is­fy­ing to pick out a song here and there on this album and listen to it intens­ively. This way, you’ll dis­cover the vari­ety and qual­ity that lies in the music these men have made over the past dec­ade. Read along with the lyr­ics, take a good look at the excel­lent draw­ings and paint­ings - I hope you’ll be con­vinced as I am that Tenhi is one of the finest folk-aesthetical pro­jects around today.

Reviewed by O.S.

Track­list:

I:
Ker­tomuk­sia demo 1997:
1. Näkin Laulu (6:52)
2. Havuisissa Saleissa (9:18)
3. Tenhi (6:52)

Hal­lave­det mcd 1998:
4. Hal­lave­det (7:38)
5. Hil­jaiseksi Lampi Jää (8:12)

Airut:ciwi mcd 2001:
6. Tuulennostatus (1:50)
7. Kielo (10:42)
8. Ciwen­kierto (6:26)

II:
Altern­at­ives and Unre­leased:
1. Kausi­en­ranta (6:00)
2. Suor­tuva (7:31)
3. Etäisyyk­sien Taa (5:34)
4. Lin­nuit (4:00)
5. Tuulenkato (5:04)
6. Sydän­valkea (4:26)
7. Kuoppa (4:21)
8. Kor­ven­raivaa­jat (5:29)
9. Kielo (12:28)
10. Niin Auer Hil­jaa Vie (7:36)

III:
Kaski 1996-2006:
1. Häie (4:14)
2. Luo Varjo (11:07)
3. Koir­an­lainen Peura (6:45)
4. Suruiksi Soi (8:54)
5. Sarah­dus (6:36)
6. Tuuli Varista (7:42)
7. Laule (1:24)
8. Vasen (9:38)
9. Neidiie (4:00)