Paavoharju is a Finnish folk / ambient band / collective which has a truly unique musical style (something along the lines of freak folk). Their both full-lengths Yhä Hämärää (2005) and Laulu Laakson Kukista (2008) are enchanting pieces. They combine mysterious folk, lo-fi, ambience and surprisingly catchy elements, somehow usually avoiding to be artsy or annoyingly indie and getting to huge depths of natural feel.
Between the full-length albums Paavoharju released a largely unknown Free Download EP Tuote akatemia / Unien Savonlinna in 2006. It is a varied effort, mainly in good sense. The EP starts with a bang; two tracks that are among the best Paavoharju tracks of all time, forebodingly beautiful Nuo Maisemat and a live version of Kuljin Kauas. Usually live versions are to be passed with a shrug but Kuljin Kauas (Lepovaunu-05 Live) captures the live feeling extremely well. It adds so much raw-power to the composition, it competes side-by-side with the original album version. I didn’t know Paavoharju could be so heavy live!
Listening the album well over 10 times it is quite descriptive that a few months after the last listen, from the last 5 tracks I can only remember one, Pepe. Pepe is a left-over sounding Joose Keskitalo track, alike “Italialaisella laivalla” in Laulu Laakson Kukista LP (Joose Keskitalo is a Finnish singer-songwriter known of his Eponymous project). I do like Pepe and even had a short crush to it, but in my books, its quality is lower than nearly any track in first three Joose Keskitalo records (which are all near-masterpieces).
By no means is the end-album bad, it is just a lot less catchy and more of freaky ambient origin. Tavataan 12-7-2004 has some beautiful piano work. Mitä Sinä Et Ole nears worthlessness and is only saved by haunting female vocals. Tartu Tähän Hetkeen encompasses the Paavoharju ambient sound, but feels bit more raw and unpolished than most of the ambient pieces in their full-lengths. The last track Salatut Käyvät Julki is a melancholic pretty guitar and pump organ outro, very Rural-Finnish.
A good release with two extremely strong tracks and only one filler. Kudos to them for not trying to make money with a collection of oddities, but it really could have been a “real” release. It is almost as captivating and magic as their full-lengths, but not quite. If it wasn’t a free download I would not recommend it for Paavoharju beginners. But as it is, if you enjoy the pieces here you will for sure love the full-lengths.
Free Download: http://archive.org/details/mia061
Joose: “Nimenomaan tonin laulua!”
Hyvämakuinen yleisönjäsen: “Hieno.”
Tarkasti analysoiva yleisönjäsen: “Tää on musiikkia.”