New folk and world music albums for spring 2015

New and interesting folk and world albums include loads of tradiotional instruments like jouhikko and kantele as well as some Finnish tango and epic males.

Finland’s  WOMEX showcase artist from 2014, Ilkka Heinonen Trio are releasing their  commercial debut album Savu  on Rockadillo Records– so far the trio’s sole release has been promo live album Urban / Ancient (2013). The band combines sounds from Ilkka Heinonen’s jouhikko (bowed lyre) with contemporary influences ranging from jazz to folk and world music. Nathan Riki Thomson’s double bass provides a groove complimented by the virtuosic percussions of Mikko Hassinen on drums and electronics.

Although jouhikko is definitely not a typical instrument, Ilkka Heinonen is not the only one representing the ancient instrument in Finland. Another experimentalist of the jouhikko, Pekko Käppi recently released a new album with his latest ensemble K:H:H:L (the acronym stands for ”Kuolleiden hevosten hillittömät luut”, which translates to ”the obscene bones of dead horses”). Their album Sanguis Meus, Mama! draws inspiration from blues, rock, pop and psychedelia.

JPP, also known as Järvelän pikkupelimannit (“Little Folk Musicians of Järvelä”) formed in 1982, released their 13th album Skywire – Taivaankansi through Sibelius Akatemia in March.  The musicians in JPP have played for example classical and jazz genres besides folk music, which has lead to a unique style, that is constantly surprising and hard to pigeonhole.

Six-piece ensemble Tango Orchestra Unto is keeping the Finnish tango spirit alive on their new record Yön tummat siivet – Dark Wings of the Night, released through Arc Music in april. The album features a selection of iconic songs from Finnish tango heritage along with new songs composed by Anna-Mari Kähärä, Timo Alakotila and Johanna Juhola.

Tuomas Logren put out his solo debut Yövesi late 2014, which was nominated for the respected Teosto prize in Finland this year. Logrén’s compositions combine traditional bluegrass music with Nordic influences and dashing band arrangements. His choices for lead vocalists are also out of the ordinary: the album features guests such as popular singers Yona and Maritta Kuula.

Esko Järvelä is known from outfits such as Frigg, Baltic Crossing and Tsuumi Sound System. But Epic Male Band, Järvelä’s first very own band was born in 2012 out of him losing motivation in those groups. Järvelä’s own vision was to play rock influenced folk music, and that is exactly what Epic Male Band’s second album Rye Groove offers. Or maybe ”progressive hard folk”, as someone has somewhere put it.

If kantele is your thing, Kardemimmit might well be your favorite band. Formed in Espoo by four women, Maija Pokela, Jutta Rahmel, Anna Wegelius and Leeni Wegelius in 2004, Kardemimmit play 15 and 38 string kanteles and perform mostly original compositions. The foursome’s fourth album Onni, funded via Finnish crowd funding platform Mesenaatti will be released May 22nd.