Earlier this year I enjoyed a one-week visit to Helsinki wearing my producer's hat (furry with ear-muffs), working with the remarkable Maija Kauhanen - expert player of the kantele (Finland's national instrument, British types might call it some kind of zither), singer, percussionist and composer/songwriter of artfully undulating soundscapes, generating sparse skeins of silvery sonority, glittering as snow-dripped pine trees in a Nordic forest in the long sunlight, rising to intense rhythmic blocks of deep texture, channeling the wordless, nature-communing joiking tradition or unflinchingly delineating dark tales of abuse and murder, a lullaby laden with foreboding as well as, of course, a story of the mystery of young love.
|Maija at her kantele surrounded by interesting microphones|
Recording took place at the excellent Ambient Studios, discreetly located above an auto-mechanics' workshop in an industrial area, and a veritable storehouse of vintage gear including a fine old Neve analogue desk and an exciting stock of microphones including some elderly but still proudly functioning RCA ribbon mics.
|Master recording technician Joonas Saikkonen at the Neve desk.|
As Maija writes and performs her songs best in organic fashion - singing, playing kantele and percussion at the same time - that was how we recorded her, without (except for one song) the aid of click-tracks. So each song is a performance. There are some with additional overdubs, but everything you hear is sung and played by Maija.
|Vintage RCA ribbon microphone used on all vocals|
Mixing is currently drawing to a close between North Wales and Finland. Watch this space for more news!!