Kimmo Pohjonen: Murder Ballads


Last week we reviewed Kimmo Pohjonen’s latest album (a take on accordion-led prog with classical leanings), but this week it’s one he did a couple of years ago. It’s in Finnish but it’s wonderful (English translations of the lyrics are supplied).

The songs are all stories about murders and murderers. The tales are told in various degrees of bloodthirsty glee, or rather joyful world-weariness. The first song is Keisari Aleksanteri, in which vocalist Heikki Laitinen seems to roll his tongue rather lovingly around the tale of regicide, accompanied by accordion player Kimmo Pohjonen.The song tells of the death of Alexander in a bomb attack: “His legs were broken/Both of them were shattered/fractured in many places/ His wounds were terrible. The noble ruler, the Great Tsar protector of the millions sank down into death.”

Next up is Rekilauluja Murhamiehistä, which contains some kind of rogue reminiscences from a prison cell: “Because of my wild nature/I don’t intend to bow my head” he says, before telling of tales when “they had to carry the blood away / in a damned cows’ bucket.”

“I have been stabbed with a knife/and struck with an iron weighing-bar/I’ve been jumping on the floor/seven times, holding my guts in,” he fondly recalls.

Musically, it’s a mix of accordion-led folk, sea shanties and the avant-garde but it’s never less than pleasing, with the vocals are sung, spoken or chanted.

The main attraction is the fact that you can’t understand the words, so they wash over you as part of the music, the whole creating an otherworldly atmosphere. Given the topic and the tone, Nick Cave is the obvious comparison, but it’s rootsier than anything Cave would do.

About jerobear

Weekly newspaper editor in Cheshire, England. I blog my editorials and the CDs I write about. I play drums, drink coffee, play music, meditate. I hate filling in forms.

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