Paavoharju, or, the Big Finnish

Today with the Ipud on shuffle I lucked into the Shins’ “Caring is Creepy” for the first time in a while; it’s one of two truly worthwhile songs on their debut, but it reminded me that I need to sell my copy of Chutes and Ladders, their sophomore dud; if you thought the Shins had changed your life, Chutes and Ladders changed it right back. Robotic, paint-by-numbers-Shins songwriting, really forced sounding. The word organic does not come to mind.

And that brings us to Paavoharju’s Yha Hamarra, a recent release out ofFinland that has me re-living the old skool joys of discovering That Which is Accidentally Great, in the sense that Paavoharju can’t possibly have experienced any kind of pressure to make what they’ve made: a dreamy, bizarro-world Kate Bush album, a ‘folktronic’ release in the truest sense, a field recording of invisible people strolling though a thawing Finnish forest in spring, set to barroom piano. And if the woman singing doesn’t sound like a Southeast-Asian Anneli Drecker, the former lead singer of Bel Canto and current Royskopp collaborator, I’ll be damned. Not all of it works; male-sung tracks only make you run back to the female vocals – but this is promising at the very least. 20 years ago, they would have been on 4AD in a heartbeat. Like some of the best art, a few compositions sound like they’d fall apart if even one facet was removed.

Paavoharju has a free mp3 EP for download at Miasmah Records.

Much of Scandinavian folk music is ineffably sad. From my travels there in the early nineties, I picked up Lena Willemark and Ale Moller’s (both of the folk group Frifot) Nordan, a resurrection of Swedish fishermen’s songs. Let’s just say the North Sea is brutal.

From Yha Hamarra:

Paavoharju – Syvyys

Paavoharju — Aamuauringon Tuntuinen

2 thoughts on “Paavoharju, or, the Big Finnish

  1. Am I going to hell because I like <>Chutes and Ladders<> better than anything else the Shins have done?Because if I’m not going to hell for that, I’m going there for the thoughts I’ve recently had about the new seventeen year old hostess at work.Bill

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  2. You’re going to hell for both. But don’t fret; that’s where all the interesting people are, anyway. Imagine how boring the conversations in heaven must be. Mother Theresa: help da leetle childrens! And Gandhi’s not there, because he’s back here.

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