(2019 - Bafe's Factory - Finland)
After my highest recommendation for Solju 'New Times' (see my review), and placing it on my Top Choices of 2018, I was excited about a new release that included the mother (Ulla Pirttijarvi of Finland, on Vocals, Joiks) of that outfit, but now with Olav Torget (from Norway, on Baritone Guitar, Xalam [Konting], Guitar [Oilcan Guitar]), and Harald Skullerud (from Norway, on Percussion, Kalimba [Calimba], Calabash [Calabas], Harmonium). This Assu (translation "Embers") release is a further exploration of traditional Sami Joik, intertwined with West African variations, plus other eastern influences. Another dreamland, otherworldly gem, that will appeal to both the trance and dance, along with world music fans alike. So with 11 compositions, that take you to another place and time, sit back and let your ears be caressed by the seventh heaven sound of Assu.
Ulla Pirttijarvi is heavy with history of her native traditional music, and especially sensitive to her relatives identity. Her dedication to their home village of Angli and Utsjoki (where she now lives) is presented on this release, a debut by this particular trio. Assu differs from Solju in the fact that this one brings a highly danceable tribal, and energetic vibe to many of the songs, but not without some gentle sacred and serene moments. Unusual touches with harmonica are used in one of the sombre meditative pieces. Both elements of modern technology (like beautiful keyboard washes) and traditional acoustic ethnic percussion are forged together, behind Ulla's authentic and mesmerizing vocal work. Gut stringed instruments, natural shakers, bells, and a mix of exotic percussion, never overdone, hi-light the songs in just the right place. The entire project is pure magic, with ethereal journeys, and celebrative rituals living in peace together.
Never allowing the techno side to take a majority, the traditional side is strongly dominate, thus making Assu a wonderful breath of fresh air, from the mouths of spirits that were at one with the earth and skies. All the songs are traditional except 1,4, & 8, which Pirttijarvi wrote. The physical CD comes in a gorgeous 6 panel digipak, with a fine booklet (includes songs and description of each, pictures and art). Assu is a fully realized flowing river of perfection. Another elite release from the Bafe's Factory label, and a wondrous disc to add to your library. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
©Reviewed by Lee Henderson 4 - 22 - 2019