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Cugu

Wimme

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Album Review

Wimme Saari employs the joik, as the singing of the Sami (Lapp) people is known. It's essentially wordless and impressionistic, conveying a sense of something, as on the playfulness of Cugu, which translates as puppy. The sometimes guttural voice recalls Native American singing and, going far enough back, there's probably a historical connection between the two peoples. But Wimme is no traditionalist. As on his previous releases, he's backed by musicians unafraid to tread into avant-garde and techno territory to back him up, with extensive use of loops and samples, as well as unlikely instruments for the music, such as banjos and bass clarinets, to create what amounts to a constantly shifting soundscape behind him. That can range from the sheer ambience of "Agálas Johtin" to the disturbing eccentricities of"Eallima Bárut," where the arrangement rolls, swells, and shifts through some strange turns. While it can all seem very nebulous, there's a charisma and purposefulness in Wimme's voice that manages to ground it all, to convey the essence of what he's singing about. The juxtaposition of that with the adventurous music has created a delicious tension among the performers over the years, although an older cut like "Texas," originally written and recorded a few years previously, doesn't have the same sense of daring as the later material, where all the parts work off each other to create a whole in a way they'd never quite managed on earlier releases.

Biography

Genre: World

Years Active: '90s, '00s

An acknowledged master of the Finnish Sami yoik — a traditional chanting cut from the same cloth as Native American music — Wimme Saari debuted in 1997 with a self-titled effort issued on the NorthSide label; Gierran followed two years later and Cugu was issued in fall 2000. He returned three years...
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Cugu, Wimme
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