Wimme and Rinne Human
Westpark Music / Rockadillo (www.rockadillo.fi)
Review by Lee Blackstone
They are two long-time travelers, Wimme Saari and Tapani Rinne. Wimme Saari is known as one of the world's foremost joikers, the form of musical expression found amongst the Sami people. Tapani Rinne has been the leader of RinneRadio, Finland's electro-jazz experimentalists who have often placed their musical expressions alongside those of folk music. Together, Saari and Rinne have released several albums of essential contemporary joik music. Wimme Saari joiks about nature and its elements; animals; places; and concepts. Saari's vocalizations have been captured solo, and he has also produced by Tapani Rinne, who has set the joiks into deep ambient textures and thudding techno-tribal workouts. Whenever these two musicians join together, there is mystery and joy to be explored.
Human is Saari and Rinne's latest collaboration. It's a spare, uncluttered release, and feels like a concept album (following on their Soabbi record, which was oriented towards religious hymns). Wimme Saari is also not the only joiker present; Elle Sofe Henriksen also contributes to two tracks on Human. The soundscape features Rinne's numerous woodwinds, especially his expertise on bass clarinet; violin and whistle (by Olivia Holladay); piano (Iro Haarla); and electronic experimentation (Rinne, and Dj Slow).
The album begins with the quiet intonation of Rinne's bass clarinet on 'Elle,' on which Elle Sofe Henriksen takes the lead. It could be an acknowledgement of women, and of Henriksen herself (she is a joiker, a dancer, and a filmmaker). This lovely, tender joik is the first of five joiks on Human's nine tracks that invoke an individual dimension. Elsewhere, Wimme and Rinne are alone on 'Heart,' which begins – perhaps predictably – with the deep thudding of a heartbeat, caressed by Rinne's clarinet. It's a deep, droning track, Rinne blowing a relaxed clarinet line that is slowly distorted via electronics. "Human" has the upbeat dance-tempo of RinneRadio's work; the beat falls away, and Saari intones some words and vocalizations before the piece judders back to life. 'Womb' is another track filled with space, with plenty of echo on Rinne's clarinet. The ambient track has a heartbeat buried in the mix; but, the music takes a turn for the experimental as various cries emanate from the amniotic surroundings, some sounding like birds, others like animals. The joik feels like a statement – human or not, here is where we emerge.
"Spotted Crake" (excerpt)
"Sounds of Snow" (2 excerpts)
The 'human' theme is balanced by four tracks having to do with the natural world: "Wind," "Rock," "Spotted Crake," and "Sounds of Snow." Of the four, "Rock" and "Sounds of Snow" remind me of the wild ambient treks Saari and Rinne have produced in the past. "Rock" is particularly affecting; the music sounds solid, rent with deep electro-static jolts and bleeps. "Sounds of Snow" is a white-out, as if one's radio connection in the Arctic were squealing through a storm, and sheets of foreboding clarinet and drones serve to obscure the sound painting. Wimme Saari joiks at the beginning of the piece, and he ends with liturgical humming.
Fans of older albums such as Gierran (1997) and Bárru (2003) should note that the harder-edged dance beats are not present on Human. Saari and Rinne have matured into a place that feels like a textured organicism. It is not that people are separate from the environment; we are, of course, a part of it. On Human, Saari and Rinne offer listeners a work of calm beauty, affirmation, and a holistic worldview, from the top of the world. – Lee Blackstone