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Tenhi - Saivo CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

3.52 | 20 ratings

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4 stars In the woods

It is so cold outside. I nearly fainted this morning stepping out of the front-door - feeling the frosty air gripping a hold of my lungs with an iron fisted grip. Everything is covered in powdered snow, and even the cheeky neighbourhood gang of cats stays inside - preferably curled up beside a warm fireplace hoping for dreams of mice until the first sighs of spring.

I put this album on, venture out on the road. My bike crackles and screeches - the frost has turned every joint in its aching metal body into arthritic pain and discomfort. Driving through the forest, it dawns on me just how special this album is, and why it's taken me this long to really get it - really take in what it's all about. I believe it was my good friend John, who initially wrote something about how much of the modern Scandinavian music is better appreciated, if the listener experiences the dark and cold winters - we here in the North are subjected to every year. There's a distinct feel to it, that pretty much escapes other bands from warmer climates. I think he's right in this assessment, and today was all about how music sometimes gets born out of nature itself - how the musicians must have been taken over by winter chills and the cold cold night.

This new album by Tenhi is my first experience with them. Conveying the true emotions and apt sonic images this release conjures up in me - takes me back to those cold hard winters we get up here in Scandinavia, but there's more to it. Imagine walking around in a dead forest. There are no leafs on the trees - they're stalk naked - black silhouettes in an infinite white setting. There's death in the air, and not in a natural kind of way - with a rotting carcass lying up against a tree with a couple of black crows picking at it, - no this is some kind of supernatural feeling of death itself. The whole of the forest is emanating death - centuries of solitude and sorrow - with only the company of the freezing winds occasionally stroking the bark on the trees. No birdsong to be found here - the screaming silence prevails.

I would imagine that this sounds like bs to a lot of people here, but once you've seen the landscapes up here and felt the cold - somehow everything falls into place. Especially with this type of music as a back draft. The easy way of describing Tenhi to the uninitiated, would be something like a Finnish progressive folk version of Type O Negative. That actually is a very accurate description, now that I think of it. The haunting vocals here are all uttered in the Finnish language. They sound like something out of a Tolkien novel - like the frosty snowcapped brethren of the Silvan Elves. The timber of these is comparable to a Finnish hybrid of Peter Steele and Leonard Cohen. The deep bellowing almost Gregorian chant from Steele, and the delivery in the recognizable Cohen manner, where every word has its individual taste, and you can nearly taste them yourself, even if the language is incomprehensible. It's like the spirit of the dead winter forest is talking to you directly through these dark ominous vocalisations - humming dangerous words of wisdom.

The music is nearly all acoustic. The guitars sound like sprinklings, shimmers of light - like a close cousin to the harp. They feel like natural streams in the landscape. Like small traces of life - something that didn't turn into transparent ice. Then you have the heart-aching weeps of the violins and cellos, that underline the natural woe of these pieces. They hurt like hell, but also inspire a multitude of beautiful musical passages. Often these get narrated by a flute or a raw piano that sounds crystal clear - like individual descending snow flakes hitting a note with a crackle of the ice beneath. Just like the stagnant and slowly moving winter season, this music also feels slow. It is pensive and highly atmospheric, and the rhythm work here is almost shadow like because of this. Hand held tambourines, or stuff that sounds like Indian percussion with attached dreamcatchers and rattle snake tales. Although there are times when the music grows big, frightening, powerful and we are treated to some hard hitting drum-work, not unlike that you'll find on a modern Porcupine Tree release. Still, everything about Saivo is slow and mournful. It's like watching a wounded animal ploughing through the icy landscape - alone in a world of whiteness and cold - shivering, afraid - yet still highly determined. Leaving behind a long drawn out trace of ruby red blood - battling the eternal fight against the long black slumber.

Even if this music sounds like doomsday paintings in sonic bloom - the death of a forest - the colours are still here. There's warmth in the vocals and in the guitars. They call to you - like a howling wolf does to the moon. This is the life blood - what runs through the freezing veins of this black and wintery release, and if you'd like to experience first hand the icy magic of our beloved Scandinavian nature, and maybe come a bit closer to the old myths that are ingrained in everything here from the oldest of persons to the steel character of the frozen soil - you can get quite close just by listening to this very release. It is full of whispering dark sorcery and tales of woe.

Guldbamsen | 4/5 |


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