Värttinä, Finland’s premier folk music ensemble, perform the type of music that brings to mind what the very first music created by humankind must have sounded like. Primitive yet complex, extremely rhythmic yet riddled with beautiful melodies, the folk music of Finland sounds very universal, like it could have originated in Africa or eastern Asia, or any other far corner of the world.

The fact that Värttinä manages to sound contemporary while sounding incredibly ancient is an amazing feat. The excellent production and arrangements do nothing to tame the fierce traditionalism and raw passion the group infuses into their music. The rhythmic drive of the music derives mostly from the tight, insistent harmonies of the group’s four female vocalists. The backing musicians play an array of traditional folk instruments ranging from fiddles and accordions to more exotic instruments unique to Finland.

“Mieleni Alenevi,” the CD’s most fascinating track, is a haunting lament of muted sorrow. The mood is carried by the unique way in which the four women blend their voices, ranging from loud, staccato singing to mere whispering. The guttural, didgeridoo-like sound of the guest “throat-singers” provides an excellent counterpoint to the female voices. Unsettling yet entrancing, the songs on Vihma exemplify shamanistic music of the highest order. Listen and get healed!

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