PAAVOHARJU: Laulu Laakson Kukista (Fonal Records)


Posted on May 22nd 2008 12:44 am

Filed in Albums | Tags: ,
Comments (2)

Paavoharju: Laulu Laakson Kukista

Laulu Laakson Kukista
Fonal Records 2008
12 Tracks. 35mins03secs

Hailing from the small provincial town of Savonlinna in South Eastern Finland, Paavoharju are self-proclaimed born again Christians. Whether this permeates their music in any way is, for anyone who doesn’t understand Finnish at least, a total mystery. Whether this is even relevant to the music at all is anyone’s guess. What is clear however is that nothing could have prepared anyone for the oneiric pastoral beauty of the band’s debut album, Yha Hamaraa, released on Fonal in 2005. Neither folk nor pop nor experimental, Paavoharju blended all these and much more besides, carving extremely pretty melodies out of rough nebulous sound collages, in turn arranged into ephemeral songs and miniature cinematic vignettes. Yha Hamaraa was a magnificent timeless record with no real equivalent, a collection of unlikely pop songs with a very sharp edge.

Three years on, Paavoharju open the doors of their magic kingdom once again, eager to take anyone willing to step in by the hand and lead them through a labyrinth of sounds and atmospheres, pointing here at delicate reveries set in crackles and statics, or there at dense layers of fog stabbed by vibrant blades of ethereal vocals. While the overall scope has not changed much, the palette has widened to accommodate broken toy disco (Kevätrumpu), heart-warming flamboyant pop (Uskallan, Ursulan Uni), desperate mystical folk (Italialaisella Laivalla) or evanescent kaleidoscopic instrumentals (Tuoksu Tarttuu Meihin, Ursulan Uni). Progressing through this album is like walking aimlessly in a meadow fresh with spring morning dew, bathed in the soft warmth of a virginal sunshine. Each song is a wild flower, radiating with unmatched vivid colours, picked on the way. Voices, male and female, appear out of nowhere, hang above complex soundscapes from which guitars, pianos and harps continuously sparkle, crystallised for a moment around sketches of melody before furtively disappearing. Snapshots of conversations and environmental noises are woven deep into the fabric of lush pieces which are at once strangely urban and contemporary, and pastoral and timeless.

Paavoharju transcend genres and defy categorisation, not by choice, but by default. There seem to be no premeditation to their lyrical approach to music; everything is delivered as is, with no particular concept or underlying idea. There are, undoubtedly, narratives in each and every song, but one is not required to understand the language to understand the emotions distilled throughout. Paavoharju have created with Laulu Laakson Kukista a stunning record that surpasses its impeccable predecessor.


Icon: arrow Paavoharju | Fonal Records

Filed in Albums | Tags: ,
Comments (2)

2 Responses to “PAAVOHARJU: Laulu Laakson Kukista (Fonal Records)”

  1. Headphone Commuteon 11 Nov 2008 at 8:28 pm

    Paavoharju took a while to grow on me. In fact, I almost dismissed the album entirely. “What is this?” I wondered. But as if by some mystical power, I was drawn to return. And I’m glad that I did. Easily going to be one of the top 2008 albums. I really like your analogy of walking around aimlessly in a “meadow fresh with spring morning dew”. It’s got that fresh breeze forest feeling, doesn’t it?

  2. themilkmanon 13 Nov 2008 at 12:56 am

    I don’t think there’s any better compliment for a band than to say “I had to return to it” This album sits very proudly near the top of my top albums of 2008, and I am glad that you are sharing this.