Rami Vierula - 'Ikuinen yö' (album)
I don't think it's entirely a secret that we were planning to go into a 'hiatus' on October 1st, because whilst helping organise the Major Parkinson UK dates and the Nordic Indie Folk night in Manchester were simply amazing things to do, they took their toll mentally for so many reasons. But then 'Rami Vierula' (Delay Trees, 23:23') announced he was releasing his new album 'Ikuinen yö' on that very date, and it would have been downright meanspirited to go on a long break the very date that one of our favourite artists released new material. So we're still here, and I guess this also means that we can add him to the list of people we can blame for this whole sorry adventure...
Anyway to say that Rami Vierula is a prolific songwriter would be somewhat of an understatement, we've had the 23:23 triple album release, a quite marvellous Delay Trees album last year (and I still listen to that more than any other album), plus a healthy set of solo releases. And one of the great things about these projects is that they all have their own character, with his 23:23 releases being so different to his solo work, and more obviously 'Delay Trees' material being very different from 23:23.
The album opens with 'Ilmansuuntaan' and immediately I'm struck by the reassuring, almost comforting, soft sound but maybe that's just my familiarity with the vocals, because lyrically (the tracks are sung in Finnish, but we've handily been provided with a translation) already Rami Vierula is straight into the themes of the album, predominantly god, death and letting go with love. ''I'm floating between the cardinal points with no purpose / I'm waiting for the chariot of fire to break the sky'' - and the words translate so poetically into English too. 'Pakko liikkua' deals head on with the subject of relinquishing love with the lines ''Thousands of voices in your head are trying to warn you: "you can't stay here", and musically I'm struck with the subtleties in the musical arrangements - the lovely piano part, the gentle strains of trumpet and flugelhorn and hints of percussion.
In 'Hiljaisuuden takana' we get to hear some really familiar Rami Vierula musical touches, with a lovely instrumental section after the introduction that slowly evolves and is cleverly taken over by a counter piano theme which somehow all fits together rhythmically, and again leaves me thinking that one day I'd be more than happy to hear a purely instrumental composition from him - maybe, dare I suggest, after he's done the that 23:23 Christmas album he half joked about. 'Uhmaa perkelettä' feels darker and the lyrics dealing with a force called 'The Void' (''It destroys you slowly, slides a knife down your bones''), and again the highlight is not just those thoughtful lyrics, but the construction of the instrumental section which takes hold of the track, this time with a fuzzy guitar solo hovering in the background - nothing is ever at the forefront in this album, it is all so understated.
I love the simplicity in sound from the violin at the start of 'Portille', which then slowly builds with intensity accompanied by pizzicato strings and crescendo of soundscapes. whilst 'Paratiisi' is a conversation about death with the lines ''But you are aware of where you are and where you are headed / You will hear the heavenly song''. But the highlight of the album for me is 'Sanoja', it is a lovely vocal melody but then it is joined by gentle harmonies and a glockenspiel, and eventually the glimpse of a violin playing the musical theme. And title track 'Ikuinen yö' pretty much wraps things up (before the instrumental 'Toivomus'), with a meandering tune and the concluding lines ''Everlasting night – I’m not sleepy at all / Everlasting night – Stay awake through it all''.
This is actually a pretty startling album, but all delivered in such a soft, thoughtful way, and musically the little touches from every musician and instrument are just astoundingly well judged, they must have spent hundreds of hours balancing the sound so perfectly. Lyrically too everything is so finely considered, there is no preaching or shouting here, just a set of short poems that could be read alone, but happily sit in the midst of the music. 'Ikuinen yö' is such a lovely album, and yeah I get that it probably won't appeal to masses of UK music fans with its Finnish lyrics, but maybe for those of you who haven't come across 'Rami Vierula's' music before it'll encourage you to listen at least to 'Delay Trees' and move on from there. For me though this is definitely a real treat of a release, with instrumental sections I'd happily listen to all day long, and it's an absolute privilege for us to stick around and write about it.
If anyone wants a full copy of the English translated lyrics then feel free to message Rami via Facebook and he'll be more than happy to send them across to you.