Image © Plastinka Records 2003
Live in Oulu
Image © Plastinka Records 2003
(18 January 2004) During the past years, the
Finnish a cappella ensemble Rajaton has achieved
success both in Finland as well as other countries
across the world. At the end of October
2003 the group of five singers--two sopranos,
one alto, one baritone and one bass--released
in Finland their latest album entitled Joulu
(Plastinka Records (Finland) PLACD 006, 2003)
(translated as "Christmas"), and this album is
the fourth album in the group's history.
When listening to this album--a two-CD set--one
doesn't need to wonder why the album went Gold in
Finland in just about two months, because both the
first "studio" disc and the other "live" disc (recorded
in the church but not in concert) once again show
what kind of harmony and the "steel" collaboration
can be at its best. In addition, both of these albums
have very professional producers; whereas disc one
has been produced by a multi-talented person
(Mrs.) Anna-Mari Kähärä, the producer of the other
disc is a long-term choir conductor (Mr.) Pasi Hyökki.
The sales were surely boosted also by the recent,
greatly outcarried and nearly sold-out Rajaton
Christmas Tour, which included concerts in fourteen
cities around Finland.
Once again, the choice of the pieces must have
been difficult since there are so many songs to choose
from, but Rajaton has succeeded to make the
Christmas album as a whole, not just a collection of
various songs. In addition to the arrangements of
already familiar Christmas songs, there are also both
brand new songs that have been especially composed
for Rajaton, as well as arrangements of a bit more
unfamiliar songs, too. Among the list of composers
there are e.g. Sibelius, Mia Makaroff and even
Anna-Mari Kähärä herself, and even the ensemble's
bass singer Jussi Chydenius has also both arranged
and composed some of the pieces. This shows the
versatility of the singers very well indeed!
Many listeners could imagine to hear only "basic"
arrangements of those carols already familiar, but
with Rajaton it just isn't so all the time. For example
a piece called "Kulkuset" (Jingle Bells) has evolved
in the hands of a Finnish jazz pianist/composer Mr.
Iiro Rantala, into a very humorous and uniquely
funny wholeness with its "reggae" rhythms,
although a foreigner who doesn't understand
Finnish would wonder what there is in common
with reggae and a sleighride. The secret is, that
the words "reggae" and "reki" (sleigh) are pronounced
quite similarly to each other, so that makes the
thing very amusing!
The first disc contains mostly "jolly"
and happy Christmas pieces and the other one is
a bit more serene, and each to compliments
the other, forming a wholeness to the album.
Christmas music for every taste so to say, and
with very well interpreted as well! The only
thing that is lacking are the lyrics and their
English translations, so if the album would be
released outside Finland as well, it should also
contain lyrics and their translations as well. It
would be a big pity if the album remains released
only in Finland, since I believe that this kind of
brilliant material, even though it's all Christmas,
has a potential to sell well enough in other
countries as well. The result of such steel
collaboration really deserves a greater audience
than just us Finns, because this double album is
a must-listen!--Suvi Kaikkonen