Another Finnish record? Indica again?? Well, yes; this is their first album, and I naturally wanted to hear this after liking the second. I wasn't actually expecting to write a review, but Ikuinen virta turned out to be impressive and distinctive enough that I wanted to sing its praises too. 'Ikuinen virta'? Sorry, my Finnish lessons are only making slow progress. I think it means some kind of stream.
The first half of the album follows a similar pattern to that of Tuuliset tienoot - it opens with some diverse upbeat pop numbers, and continues with some slower more meditative tracks. It's sunk in with me now that the band has a singular creative mainspring in Jonsu - the 'Säv. & San.' are credited to her - music and words, if I'm not mistaken.
The two albums demonstrate that she has a remarkable talent for melody. It's a pity that it's so easy for some to dismiss pop: it's a genre like any other, and someone who can do it well deserves attention. The abilities of the band and the producers complement her singing very well too. Indica produce a brand of classy pop music which stays with you. I admit there's one essential aspect of good pop which I can't comment on, ie. memorable words, because they're in Finnish, but you'd hope that someone who can write distinctive and clever tunes also has an intelligent way with lyrics. There's certainly a strong poetic rhythm underlying them.
Did I ever mention I was related to Scarlett O'Hara? It's true! To Vivien Leigh, that is. It's a pretty distant relationship but she is on the family tree. I've met her first cousin. Anyway, I am of course delighted to find a song on this album devoted to her, Scarlett. How can I tell? The clue is the reference to Rhett Butler. To be honest, the music doesn't especially evoke the setting of Gone With The Wind, but it sort of does some of Scarlett's state of mind, vulnerabilities and fierce certainties, overlaid with wistfulness. In tone the song stands a little apart from the rest of the album; but it does bring to mind the Kate Bush comparison, and you could see this song as Jonsu's Wuthering Heights - for Kathy, read Scarlett O'Hara. (Now someone's going to tell me it's absolutely nothing to do with GWTW...)
And there are no duds on Ikuinen virta. Out of the early songs, for me the first, Saalistaja and the fifth Surusilmä ('Sad Eye'?) stand out - that one has a nice head nodding singalong chorus. Indica's songs all tend to have a good way with insistent hooks.
Under a romantic, Indica sort of sky (left) - this kind of picture is bizarre, isn't it? I mean, you'd never do this in normal life; some are looking at the camera, others are gazing soulfully into the distance. The two sitting down appear to be very uncomfortable to me. And I bet the stone was cold.
From about half way through, we get a more complex kind of song, culminating in Vettä vasten, epic in length and feel, with anthemic chorus and poignant atmospheric outro. I particularly liked Onnen kartano. Sung to piano with melancholic passion, it has a haunting hymn-like beauty.
Frankly, Jonsu has an obvious gift for musicals: all these later songs display a powerful sense of narrative flow, and as far as I can tell, a similarly strong expression of a character's developing state of mind. Just listen to the counterpointing refrain of Lasienkeli. And Aaltojen takaa is almost a mini-musical in itself, full of dramatic to and fro. I'm kind of reluctant to say any of this, since I'm not a fan of musicals and personally I want to see this band continue producing great albums. I'd hate to be responsible for putting the thought in her head, I guess I'm relying on the fact that she won't ever read this :)
I can see why Ikuinen virta hung around in the Finnish charts for a long time. Every song is emotionally involving, and all together they create a compelling artistic imagination. Indica's music is definitely for some tastes, and not others; but then you wouldn't have thought it was to mine, and yet here I am, won over by these lovely songs.
23 August 2006