Riitaoja - Mantereelle
Svart Records
Folk Rock
10 songs (39'16")
Release year: 2013
Svart Records
Reviewed by Alex

I do not pretend to be an expert on Finnish folk rock, but I am generally always interested in how native tinged music reflects the soul of the nation. In the case of Finns, I happened to know a few of them personally, so I was always happy to discuss Finnish bands with these friends before they moved out of town where I live. The habit, though, stayed, and from time to time I like to peer into the music of those I call “the kinds of sorrow”.

Riitaoja is the newly formed collective, made up of experienced musicians, but never before getting together to release anything in the rock realm. Calling Mantereelle rock, however, is a stretch as the album is mostly filled of free form quiet introspective experimentations. Using instruments ranging from banjo to xylophone to harmonica Riitaoja is the band for those who prefer their music mostly acoustic, away from distorted guitars and riffing, basically something way folk. Percussive and vibrating (Allergiset oireet), songs on Mantereelle can also have an airy and jangly feel to them (Alitajuntaa ovelta ovelle). At times the music itself is barely even heard, pushed into the background to highlight spoken voices substituting for vocals, one of them male and one female. Fully dressed, with jazzy shapes, brushes on the drums, keyboards and bass providing solid foundation (Kello kolmen raitiovaunu) Mantereelle can provide respite from the outside noise and soul soothing warmth. If you are satisfied with the simply drifting away, mindlessly, lullabied by velvety voices and unimposing melodies, Mantereelle is the music for you.

I can imagine this being a hit in an undistinguished coffee shop somewhere in Helsinki, or in some remote Finnish town, however, I had trouble telling the tracks apart, and that is my main problem with the album. Pregnant with trademark Finnish pensiveness, I once heard Korpiklaani muse in the similar direction, when in the midst of their concert in a smoke filled bar Jonne Jarvela pulled up a chair, sat down and mumbled words to a quiet acoustic guitar. Hengitän, Alitajuntaa ovelta ovelle and the title track definitely have the same vibe. Yet, Riitaoja does not rise to memorable level for me, because it is almost too shy of itself, too timid to expand, boxed in by the self-imposed non-obtrusive formula. This is the music to calm the nerves, but not to remember after the album stops playing.

Killing Songs :
Hengitan, Alitajuntaa ovelta ovelle, Kello kolmen raitiovaunu
Alex quoted 60 / 100
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