Anima Arctica is no stranger to us folks here at Heathen Harvest, in fact it wasn’t that long ago that label-head Juha Kettunen was interviewed for his Somnivore project, since then the label has put out several strong releases by Circle of Ouroborus, Cloama + Die Blutleuchte, Tervahäät, MAA, Key, Pyhä Kuolema, with Virta being the most recent, although the musical genres differ the quality of the music being produced has been consistent. This release is in keeping with the tradition.
The musical association of Finland and music go beyond Sibelius and Metal of course, there are a whole slew of artists who have been doing their own thing for some time, such as the ritual ambient of Halo Manash, the harmonic folk styling of Värttinä, and the sublime neofolk of Tenhi, and while there are other artists one could mention, Virta is the artist at hand.
From the land of the midnight sun and polar night comes Virta. This solo project is created by Santtu Forsström who hails from the beautiful small market town of Kristiinankaupunki; on the Bothian sea, the music of Virta is an evocative response to the artists surroundings, as the natural beauty is reflected in the music. On Elon Syvä Lempi (The deep love of life) Santtu Forsström has incorporated a melange of percussive instruments, guitar, bass and vocals into a balanced mixture that engages the listener, and leaves one wanting more.
Surroundings play an important role in influencing the outcome and mood of music, had this release been recorded anywhere else the final result would most likely not have been the release at hand. The tracks are artfully crafted and the timbral qualities of the various instruments are allowed to stand on their own and resonate without any effects added which could possibly muddy the mix and give the release a ‘manufactured’ sound, alas this is not the case. The production is clean and all of the instruments are given space in the mix, one can see that this is a label run by artists where the prime importance is releasing music of quality over quantity.
While the five tracks on this release approach the experimental at times by introducing noiser elements into the song structure, rest assured these tracks are firmly rooted in the earth. All of the tracks have an introspective folk quality to them which allows the various tracks to expand and grow as more instruments are introduced into the mix, on Kutsun Sateen flute and some serious bodhran playing take this track beyond the stars and then back to earth. It is the final track Joki, an epic wild ride into the unknown, this final piece utilizes every musical element present on the other tracks and puts them all to good use in creating what is the magnum opus of this release, it is a track that starts out slowly then picks up the pace only to shift time signatures back and forth, this track is more of a ‘work in three parts’ with a mellow beginning, noisy climax, and a subtle finish.
My only issue with this release is the length, although it isn’t a short release by any means, I could have easily listened to forty more minutes of this music, this says more about the quality of the music than it does anything else. Keep the magic coming.
03. Kutsun sateen
04. Lehtoon tyynten aatosten