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World Music CD Reviews Europe

Maria Kalaniemi

By John Kuhlman
Published December 1, 2006

Bellow Poetry

Maria Kalaniemi is a Finnish master of the fearsome five-button row accordion, and though she has released many albums in group settings (including working with Lars Hollmer and Bratko Bibic in Accordion Tribe), this is her very first solo effort. Inspired, in her own words, by “Kalevala runo poem singing, pastoral shepherd music and Finnish gypsy themes,” the music has a very open-ended, exploratory quality, alternating sometimes very suddenly between quiet, intuitively unfolding melodies and fierce eruptions of virtuosic Finnish tango riffing. It’s a beautiful album, and she is in total control of her instrument, but even though she leavens her sound with occasional quiet vocals and some subdued acoustic guitar,  the whole thing is still, after several listens, a little too raw and a little too rarefied at the same time. But should one ever find oneself in a dark forest, trailing a wounded reindeer, led on only by the reflection of the stars in the drops of blood in the snow, having this coming through headphones would certainly inspire perseverance, even though one’s feet were very cold.