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CD REVIEW: Verneri Pohjola & Mika Kallio – Animal Image


Verneri Pohjola & Mika Kallio – Animal Image
(Edition. EDN1107. CD Review by Patrick Hadfield)

After two excellent albums for Edition, Verneri Pohjola returns with this very different release: a film soundtrack. In collaboration with percussionist Mika Kallio, who played drums on Pohjola’s last CD, Pekka, the trumpeter presents a series of improvised duets. Animal Image consists of six tracks which flow from one to another creating a single piece. It is moody and poetic.

Pohjola and Kallio worked closely with filmmaker Perttu Saksa, who first contacted Pohjola and subsequently cut his experimental wildlife documentary around the musicians’ improvised score. The music stands on its own terms, though.

There is a playful interaction between Pohjola and Kallio as they pick up each other’s rhythms and phrasing. Kallio is credited with “drums and gongs”, but from these he provides a wealth of percussive sounds. The deep timbre of the gongs creates a mystical feel, rich and sonorous. Bells ring, the drums softly roll and, occasionally, roar, though for the most part the music is quiet and contemplative.

Verneri’s trumpet goes from high bird-like trills to low growls. He uses electronics to add background textures – single chords over which the trumpet and percussion play. The final, title track uses electronics more substantially, lifting and looping quiet trumpet phrases which the duo play, building more complex patterns.

The music is impressionistic and ethereal. Saksa’s film explores the relationship between man, animals and the environment of the northern wilderness, and the CD’s titles reflect this. Ranging from Where Do You Feel At Home through Outside to Foxplay, Goshawk’s Dream and Man, the music echoes the emptiness of the landscape.

Patrick Hadfield lives in Edinburgh, occasionally takes photographs, and sometimes blogs at On the Beat. Twitter: @patrickhadfield.

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