Ánnámáret Ensemble: Gollehelmmot

October 23, 2017

Cold Wind, Warm Voice

Listening Post 121. Our idea of northern latitudes is shaped by stories like The Call of the Wild and Dr. Zhivago—tales that focus on outlanders who venture into the cold for exploration or refuge. One benefit of world music and literature is meeting people for whom a place like the Arctic is not an adventure but home. Anna Näkkäläjärvi-Länsman is a singer-songwriter, musical academy director and teacher from Utsjoki, at the north end of Finland’s longest road. The music of her Ánnámáret Ensemble is a mix of Sami tradition with folk, pop and classical components and deft electronic touches that seem to bring distant winds and light to the stage. Gollehelmmot (Golden Pearls), the band’s second album, focuses on the joys and challenges of Arctic life, the importance of shelter, the struggle to preserve heritage and resist encroaching cultural and environmental pressures. Elsewhere, the expression “On Thin Ice” is often used figuratively, but there’s nothing metaphoric in the song Rášes jieŋaid nalde; there does, however, seem to be a warning: “I heard it—the ice cracking/And I didn’t dare to tell the world,” Anna sings, the distinct Sami syllables floating on her warm voice (video 1). Latitudinal differences fade in the wedding song Silbbat ja gollit (Silver and Gold), as “Friends, mates sisters, brothers/Family, relatives, small princesses, the kings of the fells/Accompany us in front of His eyes” (video 2). The title track offers advice on holding fast to the people and values that matter most (video 3). Meanwhile, the elements are knocking in Skábma (Polar Night): “I listen to your voices/I already feel you arriving/Polar night behind the door and it talks to the two of us” (video 4). Descriptions by perceptive travelers have their appeal, but there’s no substitute for an authentic and enchanting local voice. (Tuupa Records Oy)







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