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MIDEM Music Spotlight: Värttinä
Miero/Riena - Anathema
By Anne Freeman, The Aspiring Songwriter®
(more articles from this author)
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Artist: Värttinä
Title: Riena - Anthema
Genre: Nordic Folk Punk Madness
Label: Real World Records
Management: Hoedown Artist Representation
Download: "Riena – Anthema"
Varttina - Miero - Riena - Anathema

How to describe this mystic menagerie of throbbing Nordic war cries? First, don't let the Finnish language stop you from listening to this wild Northern European Folk music. The fact that I don't understand a word of it matters not at all. The language and the vocals are instruments deftly used by Värttinä, standing atop fiddles, the 2-row accordion, jouhikko, nyckelharpa, harmonium, kantele, bouzouki, and complex percussion. Although I have no idea what these instruments are, they sound fabulous!

The members of Värttinä are professionally trained musicians and Folk music specialists, who studied at and/or teach at institutions such as the Sibelius Academy Folk Music Department, Central Ostrobothnian Conservatory in Kokkola, the Helsinki Pop Jazz Conservatory, the Espoo Pop/Jazz School, and the Helsinki University Department of Musicology. These are serious artists.

At a loss as to how to describe this music, I'll turn to a review of Miero, their 10th album, which contains "Riena":

The tone is set by the opener, Anathema, which fuses storming global beats with wild fiddles and accordions while conveying genuine menace as the band’s trio of vocalists, Susan Aho, Mari Kaasinen and Johanna Virtanen, warm up for their battle with the Orcs by chanting such lines as “my loathing drips blood, my pain slashes, curses, drenches with pus”.

The band is now collaborating with A.R. Rahman on the score of the stage version of "Lord of the Rings." To get a sense of what's in store for the stage, below are the English-version lyrics to "Riena – Anthema," (Music: Antto Varilo, Words: Mari Kaasinen, Johanna Virtanen)"

I throw off sparks,
I tear from my tongue words as twisted as tree-roots.

I poke the fire of hatred with my words,
I hurl hate back at you.

My mood blackens,
blacker than the mind of any mortal.

My loathing drips blood,
my pain slashes, curses, drenches with pus.

The snakes also curse you, serpents of death ?
oh, that hissing will enter your head?

The snakes also curse you, serpents of death ?
even the snakes?

I throw off sparks,
I tear from my tongue words as twisted as tree-roots.

You crushed me underfoot, you evil betrayer.
You punish me with rage, you poisoned my mind.

So I heap blame on you, spit words from my mouth.
So I accuse you - pathetic worm that you are.

All rightee then …

The Come hear.Finland promotional CD is a partnership between MOKIA Nseries, Contra, d:centia, and Kuuko, with support from the Finnish Ministries of Trade and Industry, Education, Foreign Affairs, and the Finnish Cultural Foundation, the Finnish Performing Music Promotion Centre ESEK, and the Foundation for the Promotion of Finnish Music Luses. I obtained a copy at the Finnish Music Information Centre FIMIC booth.

For more information and to contact the author, click on the author’s name at the top of the page.

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