Tuuletar: Rajatila/Borderline

November 12, 2019

Voices on the Edge

Listening Post 227. Tuuletar’s debut album introduced vocal folk hop, a performance style of a cappella harmony, beatboxing, gesture and movement that filtered the natural world through Finnish mythology. Listening to Rajatila (Borderline), the group’s second album, is—for want of a better analogy—akin to reading Ulysses: It’s experimental, challenging, brilliant, but instead of the tranquil Liffey, Dublin sits on the edge of a smoldering volcano. This time the four women, who take their name from the Finnish goddess of wind, explore life’s fragility. They’re still mostly a cappella, still rooted in folk sources, but their sound is often raw and they’ve reimagined the tension-resolution template. Across surreal landscapes, in urgent puffs and whispers, in polyphony that bleeds into cacophony, amid banging, thumping and clashing, they sing their way through mortality, inner soul and inner earth to a source of flowing water. In Aika tappaa (Time Kills), urgency and calm weave themselves into an uneasy but coherent and ultimately beautiful balance of fear and hope (video 1). Hope becomes ephemeral in Maatuuko mieleni (Will My Mind Decay), a plaintive effort to choreograph the final dance between body and consciousness (video 2). Kun on vain päivä (There Is Only Day) offers a gentler, classical sound but a cryptic text, inching toward understanding and survival (video 3). Lähteellä (At the Source) offers the sound of peace and the reflected light of a waning moon (video 4). The album’s ambiguity offers an interpretive kaleidoscope: Abstract art, dire warning or both? Is it a universal perspective or a cry from the world’s northern rim, where an acutely eco-conscious nation also sits on the planet’s geopolitical fault line? Can we find equilibrium on a soundscape of tentative grace and perfect disharmony? The answer may not be blowing in the wind, but Tuuletar’s question certainly is. (Bafe’s Factory/Nordic Notes)

Tuuletar: Rajatila/Borderline
Venla Ilona Blom: Vocals, beatboxing, percussions
Sini Koskelainen: Vocals
Johanna Kyykoski: Vocals, pokers
Piia Säilynoja: Vocals, hand drum

Guest artists
Pekko Käppi: Bowed lyre, vocals
Antti Paalanen: Accordion, roaring

Related post. Tuuletar: Tules maas vedes taivaal, Listening Post 115, Sept 10, 2017


Aika tappaa / Time kills
Lyrics: Venla Ilona Blom, Johanna Kyykoski, Traditional/ Music: Venla Ilona Blom

(from the Finnish lyrics, all translations by Teri Mantere)
Exist without being/One must be expected
Be just to be/Be as one pretends
Be tenuous without being nonexistent

Languish without starving/Live without living
Die without dying/Halt without stopping

Give all right now/Or be flung to the mire
Slave, slave your best/Or else you shall die

Beneath the chest, which harbours fear/Hope is found away from here
Well, in my chest the fear is there/My hopes utterly elsewhere

Time is calling after you/The moment slain, let it go
Regard your anxieties/Dread your fears
Feel your feelings/Shed your blood
Repeat mistakes/Turn your gaze
Revoke your words/Change your mind

Where hope is your companion/Then fear be your shepherd
And hope, it is my companion/If fear is my shepherd

Time is calling after you/The moment slain, let it go

Life’s threat, thin as it can be/choking in its grip, throws a loop
Around the neck till/Nothing


Maatuuko mieleni / Will My Mind Decay
Lyrics: Venla Ilona Blom/Music: Piia Säilynoja, Venla Ilona Blom

Will my mind decay in the soil/When still stands the blood in my veins?
Will my frame come crashing down/Taking my dreams away?

Will my soul burn, roots and all/When sleep has gone my breath?
Will the ice crack only then/Once my heart is covered in earth?

Shall I hear death calling/If I don’t understand a word?
Am I ever going to be ready/To give up this life in the world?

To sing my final hymn/Let my voice go to sleep?
Hoping for the better, my dreams/To the urn do I trust to keep?


Kun on vain päivä / There Is Only Day
Lyrics & Music: Johanna Kyykoski

I make pretense no longer/Here I am, I draw the borders
Layer by layer myself I peel/Reflecting through from I to me

I claim to know something of this/Good, yet fragile life
Whether you fully understand I know not/When much is given, much is also lost

All these years cut deep, by my body, heavily bleeding/All is distraught in this place
No morning and no night/There is only day

Such is the motion of life/A human is measured with seven years
Seven years since my birth/Now I do it again, my journey of dear worth

All these years cut deep, by my body, heavily bleeding/All is distraught in this place
No morning and no night/There is only day

Under a blanket I could endlessly lie/Live a day or two without eating
One can’t, in a good but worrisome life/Survive burning out by merely breathing


Lähteellä / At the source
Lyrics: Sini Koskelainen, Johanna Kyykoski/ Music: Tuuletar

Lingering it fails/Gliding, descending
Face reflecting/I feel the moon shining

Waning moon/Carrying silence
Beyond the soul’s mirror/Shadows reflected

At the time of a new moon/One is born, hatched out
In the eternal, once again/Belief is brought about

This Earth’s satellite/Orbiting on its path
Carrying one to grow/The truth to unmask
Ablaze it alights/A dark burning
With a primal force/To a whole form turning

Lingering it fails/Gliding, forming
I descend, peaceful/On the ground I nestle



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