Music Finland staff picks: Favourite Finnish albums of 2019

Which albums have the Music Finland people been listening to throughout the year 2019? See our staff’s choices and listen to the Spotify playlist.  

Anu Ahola (Editor-in-Chief, FMQ Magazine)

3TM: Lake (We Jazz Records)

Abstract underwater thoughts and comforting waves, serene sounds from woods and suburban portraits. On 3TM’s album “Lake”, Teppo Mäkynen’s superb trio creates the kind of atmosphere I’d like to live in, an enigmatic loop of life. Listen on Spotify.

Tuuli Elo (Export Manager)

Pehr Henrik Nordgren: As in a Dream (Alba Records)

Dark, beautiful music by Finnish composer Pehr Henrik Nordgren who would have turned 75 this year. The Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra and conductor Juha Kangas used to co-operate frequently with Nordgren. This is the orchestra’s latest album in a series of his music, and the connection can still be heard in the intensity of the performance. This is a record full of emotion and melancholy, completed with the strong sound of Marko Ylönen’s cello. Listen on Spotify. 

Teemu Fiilin (Communications Manager)

The Hearing: Demian (Solina Records)

Ringa Manner is no new kid on the block – Demian is her third album as The Hearing, and if you count the records that she has made with Pintandwefall, Ruusut and Solano+Profettes, among others, the total is must be over a dozen. The maturity is audible on Demian: Manner’s compassionate pop songs are now backed with production that marries cool and glitchy electronic indie pop sound with hints of 90s trance. Still the most singular thing about The Hearing is Ringa Manner’s voice: at times sharp enough to shear your visceral organs and the next second calming enough to soothe you to sleep like a baby – the comparisons to Björk, Karin Dreijer and Elizabeth Fraser are well deserved, but almost unnecessary, as Ringa Manner mainly just sounds like herself. Listen on Spotify.

Merja Hottinen (Research Manager)

Waste of Space Orchestra: Syntheosis (Svart Records) 

Recently I’ve been very much drawn to music that is immersive and repetitive, and that slowly shapes its form in the musical space-time. There has been great new music with these elements in many genres, from contemporary classical to jazz to, for example, Lau Nau’s mesmeric film music score Land Without God. One of my favourites – and surely the loudest of all – is Syntheosis by the Waste of Space Orchestra, a live project and album created by the musicians of avantgarde metal bands Oranssi Pazuzu and Dark Buddha Rising. The hour-long work transforms metal genre’s typical characteristics and dark noisy sounds into a powerful and meditative musical whole. Listen on Spotify.

Niko Kangas (Export Manager)

Andy McCoy: 21st Century Rocks (Ainoa Productions)

Fell in love right away with this one. Andy still proves to be an excellent composer with a great vision of rock’n roll music. Listen on Spotify.

Otto Knuutila (Intern)

NEØV: Volant (Clouds Hill Records) 

Dreamy indie group NEØV’s latest album Volant has been a perfect mood setter for me – should I be sitting in a morning tram to work, walking a dog in the forest or just relaxing at home with a warm cup of tea. The album manages to build an atmosphere minimalistic enough calm you while still having a driving, pulsating beat to keep you at your feet. Airy guitar sounds, rocking drums, glimpses of soft synths and Anssi’s flowing melodies build together a harmonious album and a beautiful story. Listen on Spotify.

Kari Laitinen (Information Manager)

Harri Lidsle: Rambling Elephant Rag – the Finnish Tuba (Pilfink Records)

Finnish tuba virtuoso Harri Lidsle is a versatile musician who has performed practically all Finnish tuba works and expanded Finnish tuba music literature by commissioning tens of works from several Finnish composers. Now Lidsle has released a CD of selected tuba works from his 30 years career. The chosen works contain both humorous and modernist contours as well as rhythmic drive and melodic sensibility, all the features that are characteristic for Lidsle’s musicianship. Line-up on includes Tuomas Turriago on piano and Casper Lidsle on percussion. Listen on Spotify.

Heli Lampi (Head of Communications and Promotion)

VILDÁ: Vildaluodda (Bafe’s Factory)

Vildá is a new duo consisting of dashing yoiker Hildá Länsman and accordion virtuoso Viivi Maria Saarenkylä. Their debut album Vildaluodda showcases the band’s unique blend of indigenous Sámi yoiks, shamanic grooves, traditional accordion sounds and modern day electronics. With songs ranging from atmospheric pieces like Muittut to the dancefloor-ready beats of Utsjoki-disko, Vildaluodda is inspired by Sámi people's close connection to nature and the northern landscapes. Listen on Spotify.

Paulina Partanen (Manager, Sheet Music Production)

Pauanne: Pauanne (Nordic Notes)

Pauanne got the Newcomer of the Year award at Ethnogala 2019, and that was really well deserved. Their debut album is surprising, thought-provoking yet humorous, skillfully executed – it’s contemporary folk music at its best. Listen on Spotify. 

Loviisa Pihlakoski (Communications Coordinator)

Deadvoss: Witherland (Deadvoss)

It’s obviously hard to choose only one. Had this question been asked before the December blues, I would have chosen a bit more cheerful piece––such as The Hearing’s or feelswithcaps’ new albums (the latter is a Pt. 1 from their upcoming album release). But right now listening to the tracks on Deadvoss’ brand new Witherland has been a pure catharsis. You can genuinely hear some actual emotion on the tracks. Listen on Spotify.

Kaisa Rönkkö (Executive Director)

Risto-Matti Marin: Hidden Treasures (Alba Records)

It’s always exciting to encounter a recording with a selection of works by different composers, hand-picked by pianist Risto-Matti Marin. As a piano music lover I surely admire him as a piano virtuoso, but also as a researcher and a fearless cultural explorer, willing to look deep in the future as well as the past.

Marin has done pioneering work in his search for obscure romantic solo piano repertoire. The music is utterly Finnish without being obviously Finnish; The whole recording is a heavy mix of influences from Franz Liszt’s B minor sonata to Grieg, from Rachmaninoff to Sibelius, not to forget Karelian folk songs like Ilmari Hannikainen’s Sonata and Ostrobothnian tunes in Einari Marvia’s Piano Sonata in D flat major. Hidden Treasure is seemingly packed with romantic late-night thoughts and fairytale charm, mellow, haunted and serene melancholy. Marin’s playing is confident, insightful and intense.

I was truly amazed by Einari Marvia’s Piano Sonata, a hidden gem in the Finnish piano repertoire, an extensive romantic work, full with texture and rich in harmony – and obviously frighteningly difficult to perform. I can easily imagine international pianists interested in getting Marvia’s piece in their Nordic repertoire. Still, my personal favorite here is Martin Wegelius’ Three Fantasy Pieces (1872) – lovely, charming, relaxed character pieces, that take you to a colorful fantasy land somewhere in the world – or your imagination. Listen on Spotify.

Henna Salo (Export Manager)

Teija Niku: Hetkessä (Kanteleen Ääniä)

Seize the moment. This ancient proverb is true to most situations – also as regards music. Teija Niku’s accordion solo effort Hetkessä (translates ”at this moment”) succeeds in capturing a whole spectrum of momentary virtuosity turning into deep devotion, fierce Balkanesque rhythms melting to intimate impressions of a waltz. Teija Niku is a resourceful, versatile composer and performer, whose own voice comes through clearly on this album. Listen on Spotify.

Riku Salomaa (Head of International)

Jesse Markin: Folk (Vild)

Jesse Markin’s debut Folk is definitely one of the best album releases from the past year. It‘s an interesting blend of genres where electro, hip hop and indie folk are smoothly combined into a cohesive package. The album is thoroughly enjoyable front to back, and Jesse Markin is definitely a talent to watch out for. Listen on Spotify.

Visa-Matti Uimonen (International Project and Financial Coordinator)

feelswithcaps: Absence, Pt 1 (feelswithcaps)

Absence, Pt 1 is a five song EP for anryone who loves catchy pop-tunes, electronic beats and big synths. Can’t wait for the second part, which is coming in 2020! Listen on Spotify.

Playlist: Music Finland Staff Picks – Favorite albums of 2019