Review: Tervahäät (2009)


artist: Ter­vahäät
release: Ter­vahäät
format: CD
year of release: 2009
label: Anima Arc­tica
dur­a­tion: 36:26

detailed info: dis​cogs​.com

The fifth release from Finnish under­ground label Anima Arc­tica is this self-titled debut work by Ter­vahäät, a duo con­sist­ing of Antero Väätäjä and Ilmari Akkanen. This shortish but inter­est­ing album builds bridges between raw post-industrial ritual tracks and frosty Finnish folk­lore.

From the start of the album on, we are presen­ted with the suc­cess­ful instru­mental base of this pro­ject that returns in most of the tracks: banjo and bass melod­ies over­lay­ing rum­bling indus­trial sound­scapes, var­ied organic per­cus­sion and some seeth­ing elec­tric gui­tar work. Longer tracks like “Otava” forge these ele­ments into exten­ded ritual jour­neys, accom­pan­ied by pathos-filled vocals in Finnish.  The accom­pa­ny­ing sheet of Eng­lish text (a trans­la­tion of the lyr­ics?) speaks of anim­als, spir­its, and mys­tic poetry. In gen­eral, the music of this album is not easy to get into; while there are access­ible tracks like the Nor­dic neo­folk of the instru­mental “Joulukuu”, the greater part of the album is rather eso­teric and demands a recept­ive mood, one that res­on­ates with the cold and oppress­ive visual imagery. It is per­haps typ­ic­ally Finnish in the sense that it doesn’t open up at the first listen.

How­ever, des­pite this closed­ness and lack of very dir­ect com­pos­i­tions that imme­di­ately grab you by the throat, Ter­vahäät man­ages to deliver an album that has a com­pel­ling mys­ti­cism about it, as well as an ori­ginal sound that blends organic, indus­trial, and folk­loric ele­ments. The found­a­tions for an inter­est­ing musical oeuvre have been laid here, and lov­ers of exper­i­mental post-industrial music should def­in­itely check this album out. It will be espe­cially appeal­ing if you have an ear for Finnish under­ground music of the past dec­ade.

Reviewed by O.S.

Track­list:

1. Lumi (2:55)
2. Otava (12:02)
3. Hautaa (4:50)
4. Kalankallo (3:08)
5. Men­neet (9:12)
6. Joulukuu (1:30)
7. Lähdin (2:54)

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