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Virta - Elon Syvä Lempi

Virta is the solo-project of Santtu Forsström. The songs on Elon Syvä Lempi are largely influenced by folk and progressive folk-rock and according to the label this resembles the streams and rivers of the North. The instrumentation is minimal with acoustic guitars, bass, drums, percussion, flute and other woodwinds. The opening track, 'Uneen' begins with brittle acoustic guitar played melodically over hand percussion. A spoken voice in deep, gruff tones enters and after a little while a percussive bass kicks in. The following track, 'Kelopuu', covers more ground with ringing acoustic guitar and loping basslines. The vocals here are much harsher delivered in a rhythmic manner, with passages of fast acoustic strum breaking into moments of fragile guitar playing accompanied by heavyset vocal harmonies and wistful flute playing before returning to a more folk-rock sound. At times it's like listening to metal played on acoustic guitars akin to Svarrogh, the Bulgarian pagan folk metal outfit who record on the Austrian Steinklang label.

'Kutsun Sateen' continues the interplay between flute and acoustic guitar, with hushed spoken vocals eventually settling into progressive folk territories before achieving a sense of urgency as it gets swept up into rolling drums and whispered voices. 'Lehtoon Tyynten Aatosten' covers by now familiar territory as it veers from slow passages of guitar playing to fast acoustic strum, this time accompanied with the occasional appearance of piano notes. The voice, once again, is reduced to a whisper or appears in spoken tones. 'Joki' brings all the different elements - guitar, hand percussion, voice - together closing in a rather buoyant but incongruent manner with ecstatic hand percussion, loping basslines and fast paced jaunty guitar work.

Anima Arctica, the Finnish label responsible for this have released numerous folk and dark, doom releases but Elon Syvä Lempi is by far the most progressive folk-rock release on their roster. It's fair to say Virta don't grab me like other artists on the label but I'm not a fan of progressive folk-rock. Yet with its metal influences as found on the voice and in the song structure, Virta may find willing listeners with this release. With their label Anima Arctica pushing the music of their own territories I hope that Anima Arctica can do for Finland what Steinklang Records have done for other European countries. For more information go to