This (apparently) MP3-only release documents 8 gigs sponsored by CMN (Contemporary New Music Network) with media promotion by The Wire Magazine. From Finland, we hear Islaja, Kemialliset Ystävät and Tomontonttu, and from America-- Fursaxa, Samara Lubelski, Blevin Blectum with contributions by Axoltol and The Skaters. Actually, the liner notes are a bit confusing as to who all plays versus who contributes, but that hardly detracts from an otherwise intriguing release.
The .pdf booklet which accompanies these compositions is impressive as well, going to great lengths to explain the genesis of the project, the promoters and their purpose and an artist-by-artist bio page sporting handsome photography of each player in action, as well as some collage works sourced, one would assume, from various tour venues.
These ambitious performances, of which 5 are here represented, promoted by NO-FI and [No Signal], aimed to highlight parallels and contrasts between near-anomalous freak-folk artists from different social contexts and musical traditions, feature both electronic and acoustic instrumentation and some dazzling vocals.
The first journey is a collaboration between Es and Fursaxa and is an ethereal wonder. Spanning 20-plus minutes, there isn’t a second which isn’t bewitching. It was composed from material from CCA Glasgow and ICA London, with some post-mixing in the studio by Sami Sämpäkkilä, aka ES.
The following 4 tracks are by Islaja, Blectum and Samara Lubelski. Blevin Blectum’s electronics are pronounced on these cuts, with some wonderfully understated but psychedelic guitar and violin work by Samara Lubelski. The band is generally strong: Merja Kokkonen provides voice, some sampler and synth work and “special effects.” Jukka Räisänen plays bass and adds some compelling background vox. According to the credits, these are straight, unedited tracks.
The dominant mood throughout, regardless of the players, is melancholic and laid-back. Despite the plethora of electronics, that this music is primarily pastoral in essence is undeniable. Has new folk finally found its way into a more mainstream idiom? From the tenor of these recordings, it seems possible, perhaps even likely, that it will begin to garner more attention and gain a larger audience. 7/10 -- P. Somniferum (22 July, 2009)