Music Finland Staff Picks: Favourite Finnish albums of 2018

We take one final look at 2018 to choose the Music Finland staff's personal favourite albums of the year gone by. See the choices below, and scroll down to listen to the staff picks Spotify playlist.    

Anu Ahola (Editor-in-Chief, FMQ):  

Electronic Chamber Music: Electronic Chamber Music (Siba Records)

Electronic Chamber Music’s debut album creates a meeting point for acoustic and electronic sounds beyond every genre. It combines intimate chamber music playing and huge soundscapes, meditation-like musical wandering and hypnotic rhythms. This exciting journey into unexpected worlds of sound needs a close listening, surprising you with each of its tracks. And it’s all recorded live in the studio. The members of this highly recommended quartet are Alejandro Montes de Oca, Aino Eerola, Otso Lähdeoja, and Nathan Riki Thompson. Listen on Spotify

Pietu Arvola (Communications Coordinator):

Band of Weeds: Other-Than-Human (Samsara Records)

This year the most interesting sounds were created not by humans, but plants! I saw Kalle Hamm’s conceptual band at Hiljaisuus Festival this summer: at 4AM in a tractor shelter there were four people (Hamm along with Lauri Ainala, Olli Aarni and Hermanni Keko) playing music created by picking up electro-magnetic vibrations out of plants with micro-volt sensors and post-processing them with various music hardware and software. Even though the idea can be a bit perplexing, the resulting songs are quite musical and beautiful: the minimalistic drones, creaks and pulsating minimal beats wouldn’t be out of place on a record by Ø or Alva Noto. Listen on Spotify

Teemu Fiilin (Communications Manager):

Yotto: Hyperfall (Anjunadeep)

The eponymous debut album from Finnish indie crème de la crème supergroup Ruusut and the latest Jaakko Eino Kalevi offering Out of Touch may top my domestic powerplay list this year. But Yotto’s debut Hyperfall is a somewhat rare album in the Finnish electronic scene: it consists mainly of moody, melancholic and melodic instrumental pieces that have been built around steady four-on-the-floor beats, but are equally fascinating for the recliner-and-headphones listen as they probably are for the dancefloor. Yotto’s music is often categorized as deep house, but it also reminds me of stadium techno giants such as Orbital, Underworld or The Chemical Brothers – and at times it has touches of melodic trance. Hyperfall also has a few songs with vocalists, but the instrumentals are the album’s real beef. Listen on Spotify

Merja Hottinen (Research Manager):

Elifantree: Anemone (Eclipse Records)

Elifantree's new album Anemone includes many qualities I like in music but didn't know could work so well together: compelling melodies, blips and beeps, groovy rhythms, imaginative soundscapes - all creating a feeling of innovation, edge and soulful emotion. Inspirations are not limited to any one genre, which shows how natural it comes today to make music regardless of genre attributes. And of course, the superb musicianship of Anni Elif Egecioglu, Pauli Lyytinen and Elifantree's new member Olavi Louhivuori makes the album all the more enjoyable! Listen on Spotify

Hanna Isolammi (Editor, FMQ):

Osuma Ensemble with She-e Wu: HITS (Alba Records)

An album full of contemporary music for percussion? It’s colourful, entertaining, well-made and groovy! HITS is – a punny enough name – the Finnish percussion group Osuma Ensemble’s first album, and besides the five Finns it also features the marimba virtuoso She-e Wu. Of the six compositions on this album, four are American percussion classics from the 1930s and 1940s. John Cage’s Third Construction is a true hit, but my personal favourites from this album are Timothy Ferchen’s The Partials of Color and She-e Wu’s own Blue Identity. Despite the wide range in dynamics the recording manages to offer the listener all the subtle tone colours and details. 

Kari Laitinen (Information Manager):

Magnus Lindberg: Tempus Fugit & Violin Concerto No. 2 (Ondine)

Magnus Lindberg’s Tempus fugit is a symphonic poem in five movements with full of power and luminous color spectrum of a full symphony orchestra. The work was written for the centenary of Finland’s independence in 2017 and is a perfect work to celebrate modern Finnishness with international twist.  The interpretation of Frank Peter Zimmerman, to whom the second concerto was written is a rock-solid soloist, is just amazing with its sparkling brilliance and keen intelligence. Listen on Spotify

Heli Lampi (Head of Communications and Promotion):

Emma Salokoski & Ilmiliekki Quartet: Ligger du fortfarande i sängen (Svart Records)

The second album of Ilmiliekki Quartet and singer Emma Salokoski provides an enjoyable and relaxing moment amidst one’s busy daily routines. The album Ligger du fortfarande i sängen! draws the lyrics from Finnish Swedish poetry chosen by Emma Salokoski. She says the idea of the album grew from wondering of why we people feel empty, although we’re surrounded by material wealth. The renowned jazz musicians Verneri Pohjola, Tuomo Prättälä, Antti Lötjönen and  Olavi Louhivuori have composed the music to these poems. You can hear these musicians have played together for years – the sound is incredibly smooth and beautiful. A truly comforting experience. Listen on Spotify

Niko Kangas (Export Manager, pop and rock):

Amnesia Scanner: Another Life (PAN)

Another Life is an album from another world where everything is slightly twisted and beautifully distorted. Amnesia Scanner’s soundscape is somewhat a kind of satire of the current electro world – or the real world. Apocalyptic performance – so to speak! Listen on Spotify

Heidi Kuusava (Export Manager, contemporary and classical):

Risto-Matti Marin: Sixth Sense: Finnish contemporary music for piano (Alba Records)

Piano virtuoso Risto-Matti Marin continues his series of brilliant solo piano recordings, this time with recent Finnish piano repertoire. The album contains only premiere recordings by composers Eero Hämeenniemi, Matthew Whittall, Juho Miettinen and Matei Gheorghiu. Beautiful pianism and interesting new contemporary works, which all lean towards different traditions in their own personal ways. If you find contemporary art music hard to approach, I highly recommend to give this album a try! Listen on Spotify

Paulina Partanen (Manager, Sheet Music Production):

Anna Murtola: Fuego por Dentro (Alba Records)

This is the first ever flamenco album published in Finland – and it was worth waiting. Anna Murtola and her guest stars take the listeners to an unforgettable journey to old and new flamenco tradition. Listen on Spotify

Kaisa Rönkkö (Executive Director):

Sebastian Fagerlund: Höstsonaten (BIS) 

For me listening to BIS recording of Sebastian Fagerlund’s Höstsonaten (Autumn Sonata) was a profound experience. Surely I found it so powerful, because of the simply unquestionable greatness of the opera; the heartbreaking story, the mystical atmosphere, its intelligence; being chilly, tough-minded, in-depth touching – realistic and unrealistic at the same time. 

But I was also touched because I was privileged to be part of the premiere production while working with the Finnish National Opera Orchestra in September 2017.  I remember standing in the back of the orchestra hall, just behind the horn section when John Storgårds beat the first chords. It was an awakening experience to follow how Sebastian Fagerlund was following each rehearsal carefully, respecting and investigating all the unique characteristic of each instrument. I was impressed how he was able to use the full colorful power of the opera orchestra, biggest orchestra in Finland. The orchestra is carrying the story, drawing all the emotions succeeding brilliantly in animating the anxiety at the drama’s heart and the way it together with the chorus and soloists colors and corrupts the gestures intentions and self-reflections of the principal characters.

Listening to opera recording is not always easy, but Höstsonaten works perfectly as a recording – because all the drama all the characteristics have been written in the music itself. Even by listening we can sense the colors and winds of the Autumn and we may see ourselves in the human vulnerable, imperfect characters – even we wish we did not. Höstsonaten, the original movie, the story, the music, the libretto – it is like a mirror for humanity. That makes it so powerful, to touch our heart and soul.

Soloists, FNO Chorus and Orchestra under the baton of John Storgårds are all top class. Listen on Spotify

Henna Salo (Export Manager, jazz and folk):

Suistamon Sähkö: Etkot, pectopaн ja etnoteknoa (Kihtinäjärvi Records)

Suistamon Sähkö’s new effort gets rave reviews domestically and internationally, all well deserved. The lyrics are brilliant, ranging from the pacifistic ”Tampere -18” that refers both to the 1918 Finnish civil war and the present society problems, to the mesmerizing and distressing ”Kalman laulu”, a song about death. The music combines the Karelian soundscape with electronic beats, rap and hip hop - in a simply irresistible way. Listen on Spotify

Riku Salomaa (Head of International):

The Holy: Daughter (Playground Music)

The Holy’s Daughter consists of anthemic songs, epic melodies and massive sounds. A beautiful album from a fantastic live rock act. The Holy are a highly welcome newcomer in the Finnish music scene. Listen on Spotify

Heikki Savolainen (Financial Manager):

Don Johnson Big Band: Physical Digital (Beat Back)

The highlights of this album for me are the atmospheric moments, interesting melodies and words that I can actually understand. This is the kind of music that truly needs to be listened to. Listen on Spotify

Katariina Sorsa (Export Manager, pop and rock)

Color Dolor: Love (Soliti) 

I feel very fortunate to have given a listen to Love by Color Dolor, because the album and the band turned out to be the most delightful musical surprise of 2018 for me! I used to think (to my defence this was years ago) everything “indie” was just an excuse for bad songwriting, but Color Dolor’s art pop proves my old self wrong by being everything on the contrary! This artist would deserve so much more attention and many more ears to their music. I enjoy the production sounds and their songwriting, which has developed a lot from the previous albums. The band is actually only a duo nowadays and the change has worked in their favour. The songs on Love are really hooky! There are also fantastic different kind of atmospheres and variety between the songs, all of them still very true to the artist. I find glimpses of my 70’s and 80’s favorites Fleetwood Mac, Kate Bush and Queen. My absolute favorite tracks from the album are Revolution, Running in the Dark, Open Your Eyes Mercury, and I Can’t Love You Anymore. If you are a lover of melodies, please put this album on your play queue! Listen on Spotify

Ida Sällinen (Intern):

Lac Belot: ABRACADABRA! (Solina Records)

A beautiful portal to a dreamland located somewhere between Alice’s Wonderland and a dimension where the sun is replaced by candlelight. Behind this ambitious debut’s compositions, lyrics, arranging, mixing and production lies one man – Jarno Takkumäki. Magnus Lindberg took care of mastering. Listen on Spotify

Visa-Matti Uimonen (Financial Coordinator):

Lake Jons: Lake Jons (AntiFragile Music) 

Lake Jons' self-titled debut album is a great unique piece of fresh Finnish indie music. Catchy tunes with nice guitar patterns and groovy lo-fi drum beats gives some new perspective to the indie field.Listen on Spotify


Staff Picks 2018

Listen to what the Music Finland staff listened to in 2018!