We take one final look at 2017 to choose our favourite albums of the year gone by. See Music Finland staff’s choices below, and scroll down to listen to the staff picks Spotify playlist.
Anu Ahola (Editor-in-Chief, FMQ):
Anni Elif: Edith (Eclipse Music)
On this soulful and intimate album, the visionary poetry of Edith Södergran (1892-1923) turns to ten electro-acoustic masterpieces. The music is written by singer-songwriter Anni Elif Egecioglu, whose incredibly versatile and emotive voice seems just like a natural continuation of Södergran’s texts. By her side, the fellow travelers Pauli Lyytinen, Joonas Kuusisto and Tuomas A. Turunen create for the listener a magic path full of nuances to the “Land that is Not”.
Pietu Arvola (Communications Coordinator):
Circle: Terminal (Southern Lord)
Ever-prolific avant-garde troupe Circle have written an album which might be their best to date, which is all the more impressive considering that they’re discography consists of over 50 albums in total. I feel that on Terminal – which was released by iconic US label Southern Lord – Circle’s weird take on rock music is summed up perfectly, especially on the grandiose heavy metal epics ”Rakkautta Al Dente” and ”Imperiumi”. Plus, Mika Rättö’s vocals never cease to amaze me.
Teemu Fiilin (Communications Manager):
Lau Nau: Poseidon (Fonal)
Laura Naukkarinen's background is in alternative folk music, but her latest (fifth) album Poseidon has been compared to contemporary musicians such as Ryuichi Sakamoto and Brian Eno, as well pop experimentalists like Björk and Múm. Lau Nau's previous record Hem. Någonstans was a score for a documentary film, and Poseidon also has soundtrack-like quality to it. It's a melancholic and beautifully melodic album crafted with piano, strings, glockenspiels, harmoniums, lyres and other (mainly) acoustic instruments, topped by Naukkarinen's hauntingly etheric vocals.
Hanna Isolammi (Editor, FMQ):
Olli Virtaperko: Romer’s Gap – Three Concertos (Ondine)
Virtaperko’s music is classical forms filled with unexpected, enchanting, elegantly beautiful and brutally broken sounds – these concertos keep the listener on edge (in a good way!). Personally I like the title piece Romer’s Gap most (amplified cello played by Perttu Kivilaakso — known also from Apocalyptica) but the Ambrosian Delights (for the soloist Jonte Knif’s self-made analogue synthesizer and chamber orchestra) with its nostalgically futuristic sound world is a delight in itself too. The third concerto, one-piece Multikolor for baritone saxophone (virtuoso soloist Joonatan Rautiola) is — funnily enough — maybe the least multicolored of the three concertos. Still very enjoyable, though. The soloists, Jyväskylä Sinfonia and conductor Ville Matvejeff are all excellent.
Kari Laitinen (Information Manager):
Matthew Whittall: Northlands (Alba Records)
Canadian-Finnish composer’s Matthew Whittall’s profile album Northlands is a tribute to Nordic landscape and nature. Northlands for horn and orchestra is a series of musical visions of Nordic lights and shadows, ad puram annihilationem meam introduces archaic power into modern choral singing and The Return of Light for mixed choir and chamber orchestra describes the end of the long polar darkness.
Heli Lampi (Head of Communications and Promotion):
Maria Kalaniemi & Eero Grundström: Svalan (Åkerö)
A truly authentic album featuring two talented and inventive musicians, accordionist and singer Maria Kalaniemi and harmonium player Eero Grundström. The sea and nature inspired songs, Finnish-Swedish ballads, new compositions and even sound snapshots from nature form a well-balanced, yet intensive musical landscape. The album was recorded in Kalaniemi’s old childhood home which adds up to its unique atmosphere. Svalan has also been praised by the European world music radio DJs who voted the album to top 3 of the world music chart.
Niko Kangas (Export Manager, pop and rock):
View: Leave a Comment (VILD Music)
View's 'Leave a comment' is an excellent hiphop album which succeeds in being truly experimental piece of rap art. This record includes dark atmospheres, deep soundscapes and extravagant ambiences for you to meditate with. Go & dig it out!
Heidi Kuusava (Export Manager, contemporary and classical):
Outi Tarkiainen: Beyond Poems (Alba)
The powerful poetry-inspired chamber music of Outi Tarkiainen is performed in this album by Finnish leading contemporary musicians. Outi Tarkiainen was born in Finnish Lapland, a place that has proved a constant source of inspiration for her music. You can definitely hear and experience the arctic sounds and forces of nature in her music in a global context.
Paulina Partanen (Manager, Sheet Music Production):
SWR Vokal Ensemble: Finland (SWR Music)
Attractive programme with works by both famous and lesser-known Finnish composers. Respect for Finnish pronunciation.
Oskar Pullinen (Intern):
M: Tehtaantyttö (Solina Records)
I like the melodies, lyrics, arrangements and the production. The overall sound is fresh!
Henna Salo (Export Manager, jazz and folk)
Verneri Pohjola: Pekka (Edition Records)
It’s an embarrassment of riches for me this year: so many stellar releases to choose from, the new albums of Frigg and Pekko Käppi & K:H:H:L or the debut of Anni Elif, to name but a few. Yet, my choice is Verneri Pohjola’s Pekka. What made this album so significant – and eagerly anticipated by music fans following the Finnish jazz and prog rock scenes – are both the brilliant music of late Pekka Pohjola and the creative mind reinterpreting it, his son Verneri. With a top-notch combo of trusted fellow musicians Tuomo Prättälä (Fender Rhodes), Teemu Viinikainen (guitar), Mika Kallio (drums) and Antti Lötjönen (bass) by his side, Verneri Pohjola has brought his father’s music alive in a unique way. Stretching from cinematic glory to robust jazz rock to pastoral serenity, this album is a true pearl.
Riku Salomaa (Head of International)
Pykäri: Pykäri (Solina Records)
Pykäri is the debut solo album from Mikko Pykäri, a Finnish award-winning musician and producer known from bands such as Regina, Shine 2009 and Cup. He has produced several artists such as LCMDF, Iisa and Ruger Hauer. Featuring Yona, Mio, Pyhimys, Reino Nordin, LCMDF, Sami Suova, SOMA, Pass and Zuzu Zakaria & Biitsi as guest vocalists, Pykäri is another fantastic release by the Turku-based Solina Records. The album consists of pop productions that really catch the ear of a fan of both Nordic pop music and R’n’B.
Heikki Savolainen (Financial Manager)
Saimaa: Urheilu-Suomi (Warner Music Finland)
Their music brings memories to mind. I especially liked the brasses. Sometimes a little jazzy but not too much. Brave and surprising.
Katariina Sorsa (Export Manager, pop and rock)
Tontario: Solitude EP, From Below EP (Anjunadeep)
Delicious ear candy! Tontario can paint wonderful images and atmospheres with his, what I might describe as, cinematic electronic music. He performed at Iceland Airwaves last year too. These two Anjunadeep releases are quite different from each other, but the downtempo tracks on From Below and the house tracks of Solitude, both share the guaranteed crispy and deep Tontario sound. I have to say, I am not very familiar with house, techno or ambient music in general. But if this is what can be found from these genres, I’m happy to dig deeper. I was drawn towards the artist with the 2016 tracks ”Coexist” and ”Rewind”, that introduced Tontario’s pop aesthetics. I would love to hear this kind of production sound in pop music in the future. As a lover of pop, I’m hoping to hear more of the catchy songs from Tontario.
Tuomo Tähtinen (Executive Director)
Mikko Joensuu: Amen 3 (Svart Records)
Amen 3 finishes Mikko Joensuu’s Amen-trilogy - a story about a spiritual journey of leaving religion behind and overcoming depression and anxiety. As an album, Amen 3 is perhaps the most complete of the three and at the same time the most challenging. While the hypnotic songs take minutes to build and also to dissolve, the combination of different elements such as loops and synthesized soundscapes keep the music in constant evolution. Full of emotion and feeling, the album keeps drawing the listener to its depths time after another.
Visa-Matti Uimonen (Financial Coordinator)
Maija Kauhanen: Raivopyörä
A great record and a magically skilled artist who shines with her expertise and musicality. Be sure to check out live if you want to experience something old and new in the same package!