11 Songs, 44 Minutes


About Wimme Saari & Tapani Rinne

"To me, joiking is the deepest way to give out my feelings and my background," said Sami joiker Wimme Saari. "It makes my life fuller." Wimme grew up with the joik, the wordless singing of the Sami, or Lapp, people. The Sami, who are spread across Scandinavia, often north of the Arctic Circle, were for many centuries nomadic reindeer herders. But more recently they've settled into communities, and Wimme grew up in a settled house in northwest Finland. His father and older brother herded reindeer, and Wimme grew up hearing the joiks around him, although it wasn't something his own parents did. The local style was the North Sami Luohti, probably the best-known type of joiking, with its pentatonic scale and each joik focusing on a specific subject. Hearing it on the radio and buying joik records, Wimme was an early convert, and made his first joik at the age of 15, playing occasional concerts, but never thinking of it as a career. He began work at the Finnish Broadcasting Company, and there, in 1986, he had a job sorting through their archives. Among the tapes he discovered were several of his uncle joiking, recorded in 1963, and they came as a revelation to him. "In there I found my background," he explained. "Learning more of this joiking, my own people's joiking, had an effect. When I met some musicians, we tried to do something together with a little band, doing jazz and joik." That initial attempt proved a failure, since the moody, quirky joiks didn't work well with other music. But it was a learning experience, one he brought to the table when he began working with experimental band Rinneradio in 1990 to create modern joiks. First Wimme had to free himself from the old, restrictive paths and learn to be himself, which took some time; the musicians didn't release their first Finnish album, Wimme, until 1995. It was an immediate success, voted Finnish Folk Album of the Year, and picked up to be one of the first records from the U.S. independent NorthSide. In 1996, Wimme recorded a joik called "Texas" and was coincidentally invited to perform at the South By Southwest music conference in Austin, TX (which led to requests from bandmates that he come up with a joik called "Hawaii"). Some of the material Wimme and Rinneradio had laid down, together and separately, came out under the mysterious title File Under: Finnish Ambient Techno Chant, while a second "real" album, Gierran, was issued in 1999. Wimme's solo cuts on the disc showed the connections between joiking and Native American singing, something he'd discovered earlier, listening to tapes of Navajo songs made in 1936. In 2000, Wimme issued Cugu, and followed with a U.S. tour. ~ Chris Nickson