Review: Tenhi - Saivo (2011) 1


artist: Tenhi
release: Saivo
format: CD
year of release: 2011
label: Proph­ecy
dur­a­tion: 70:00

detailed info: dis​cogs​.com

I’m always filled with a slight trep­id­a­tion when one of my favour­ite bands is releas­ing a new album after sev­eral years. Tenhi is a case in point, as I con­sider them to be one of the most ori­ginal and con­sist­ently excel­lent expo­nents of the past decade’s neo­folk move­ment. The beau­ti­ful Maaäet (2006) was cer­tainly a mar­vel­lous album, along with its pre­de­cessor Väre (2002), where we found a per­fectly ori­ginal style and com­bin­a­tion of gui­tar, drums, flute, piano, violin, and Finnish voices. Since then, the band has shrunk to a core duo, so it was a bit of a riddle what to expect of Saivo.

With some delays, the album is finally here, and frankly, it is not as sur­pris­ing as it could per­haps have been. Des­pite a five year con­cep­tion and a line-up change, Saivo is remark­ably faith­ful to the style staked out on Maaäet, with prac­tic­ally the same instru­ment­a­tion, style, and musical aes­thetic. Noth­ing revolu­tion­ary in that sense, which might dis­ap­point some people who weren’t that into the band to begin with.

Look­ing past that, though, Saivo is mainly a well-filled album with a pleth­ora of com­pos­i­tional gems that will delight those who loved what came before. The misty piano ambi­ent of the opener leads the way to “Pojan Kiiski”, which show­cases the excel­lent song struc­ture and rhythmic twists of Tenhi’s music. While the fol­low­ing tracks seem a bit less ear­catch­ing (grow­ers per­haps?), “Haaksi” is a mar­vel­lously ener­getic piece of neofolk-rock that cer­tainly ranks among the band’s finest songs. A flaw­less inter­play of drums, string bed­ding, voice, and piano.

It’s all gold from hereon, too. “Sur­unuotta” brings some calm gui­tar and vocal res­pite before the emo­tion­ally intense title track “Savoie”, with its strong chord strum­ming and choir vocals. The mourn­ful “Paluu Joelle” and swinging “Vuoksi” are fur­ther high­lights. “Sees” starts with gentle piano and violin lay­ers and more strong vocals, before set­tling into a calm acous­tic fin­ger­picked melody that harks back to the earlier days when this dark acous­tic style was just being developed. The final track is long and intense, with a strong con­trast between the song itself and full ambi­ent parts. Though less rhyth­mic­ally chal­len­ging, “Sin­iset Runot” reminds me pos­it­ively of “Ran­nalta Haettu”, that phe­nom­enal clos­ing track on the pre­vi­ous album.

Through focus­ing on refine­ment and subtle changes rather than styl­istic revolu­tion, Tenhi walks a safe path with this new album, but it is a very fine album nev­er­the­less, and I haven’t even men­tioned the stun­ning art dir­ec­tion and the spe­cial edi­tions of this album, nor yet the 9 LP col­lect works box set that was released at the same time by Proph­ecy. On musical merit alone, Saivo def­in­itely stands among this year’s favour­ite releases for me.

Reviewed by O.S.

Track­list:

1. Saivon Kim­al­lus (3:40)
2. Pojan Kiiski (6:46)
3. Uloin (8:08)
4. Pienet Purot (4:18)
5. Sateen Soutu (3:05)
6. Haaksi (9:14)
7. Sur­unuotta (5:43)
8. Savoie (3:02)
9. Vuoksi (6:08)
10. Paluu Joelle (5:01)
11. Sees (4:25)
12. Sin­iset Runot (10:30)