Some interesting little tidbits to get the appetite going, VYÖNI being a small town in Northern Sweden, near the Finland border. The Tripoint is a semi-obscure area, very well known to military historians in particular, as in the extreme north of Norway three borders are in close proximity: Finland, Norway and Russia. In the latter’s case, the port city of Murmansk is the home of the Russian Arctic fleet and where Allied ships bought supplies to the Soviets fighting against the Axis. The Norwegian mining town of Kirkenes has been the home of a variety of spy novels (Rendez-vous a Boris Gleb, for one) through the decades and is hence, quite familiar with this writer. It is also a bucket list destination for viewers of auroras as well as a winter hotel made of ice and snow. This is where our Kim-Frode WOHNI is from, a multi-instrumentalist born in Kirkenes but resides in Oslo. He does it all on this recording, featuring guitars, bass, drums and a variety of keys as well as sax and production the mastering taken care of Jacob-Holm Lupo who needs little introduction.
As befits the beautiful landscapes of the Scandinavian north, the music is appropriately stark, at times glacial as well as blinding bright, a prefect cinematographic instrumental soundtrack that offers the listener the immense freedom to imagine in the most individual manner possible, as well as providing alternate takes on future visits. Hushed strains of electric guitar gently arise from the frozen mists as “Way up North” morphs into an ambient sound space that elicits images of enormous white expanses, the bass guitar shuffling knee-deep in snow, the iced-up fur hood firmly buckled as the gale picks up in expected fury. The synthetic orchestrations colour the azure sky as the direction veers towards the Arctic, the fjords teeming with the entire Berg family floating in majestic regalia.
There are some towering mountains in that neck of the tundra, like Ridnitsohkka or Halti, where the barren wilderness becomes colossal in its scope, the ideal setting for the densely atmospheric “Steep Mountainside” with its craggy groove and repetitive fuzzed riff, a constant climb to unknown landings. The pinnacle is reached after hours of strain, to catch one’s breath and take in the visual prize. A major sonic deviation occurs with “Tales from the Ferries “, a softer mood equating with the harbour disgorging a few local fishermen and hunters, exchanging stories about their inland adventures and how rest is upon them. The extended and talkative electric guitar is unmistakably chatty, while the orchestrations add a gentleness to the proceedings. The tingling e-piano here works wonders, flirting with a lounge jazz-feel that is absolutely perfect. Not surprising that this arrival segues into the blissful “Homecoming”, a moodier track oozing a fatigue that requires to “warm the bones beside the fire” as some Pink guy once said. The bluesy sonic warmth is relaxing, almost a lullaby, nothing rushed but everything gained. Various voice effects recreate the social fabric being reconnected the joyful story telling and the restful feast in good company and the warm bed to follow.
A new adventure begins with “Trip to Kilpis” (the village of Kilpisjarvi), another three border area between Norway, Finland and Sweden, maintaining the title’s purpose of triumvirates. The music finds similarities with fabulous Polish band Lebowski, where the guitar, keys, bass and drums create a certain aural travelogue in Lappland feel, very evenly constructed yet highly melodic and eventful. The overlapping (excuse the pun) guitars are phenomenally put together, crashing rhythm guitar riffs layered on jagged leads that spiral into the sky. I was caught thinking of the Summers-Fripp experiment at one moment! music. The purpose becomes clearer on “The Day After”, where Kim-Frode shows off some considerable skills on bass as well electric guitar, knitting a well woven pattern of groovy licks, laid-back and almost on the verge of funky, which cannot help but make the listener smile in admiration. Its the definition of cool. Two real first class tracks!
The title track aims at somehow musically explaining three borders meeting at one specific point (a nightmare for customs officers I guess), the sax, vibraphone and strings unite to plunge into an outright jazz-rock expanse (think George Benson meets John Etheridge of Soft Machine), where groove, chops and orchestrations meet in agreement. Easily a highlight number that has that clever hypnotic appeal down pat. Fantastic!
Did I mention spy novels earlier on? Well, a sense of Bond permeates “Shaky & Stirred”, a raspy guitar with a clear melody in mind intertwines with the swerving bass guitar, while a cool e-piano pattern asserts its authority. This on headphones certainly has shaken and stirred my brain! A brilliant buildup takes this to the finale. “Heating the Sauna” means we need to expunge all the soreness as well as cleaning out the pores, a ritual that the Finns especially have perfected (as well as the Romans, Turks and Hungarians). This sensational track raises the temperature ever so slightly but without any mercy, as the goal of purification of body and mind must be carried out, after such a powerful audition (trek). The beads of guitar sweat glisten all over the body, the hair matted, the” kiulu” (small bucket of water to toss on the hot stones), and its ladle the “kuuppa” in close proximity in order to create the “savusauna” (smoke sauna). This album did something incredible, I traveled far and wide, seen and imagined things and then I got to relax and refresh myself. Kim-Frode, you got this just right! Highly recommended for the sonic voyageur in search of exploration.
4.5 spikey trinities
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Jérémie Arrobas and 5 others