Image © Universal Music Finland 2004
Image © Universal Music Finland 2004
(07 November 2004) It is a joy to notice how vital the a cappella music has been able to stay throughout the years, and how the tradition started by the early Swingle Singers in the 1950s or so is still flourishing and evolving onwards. Several new groups are born every year, many of them being successful not only within their home country, but also around the world, both in terms of the sales of albums as well as concert tickets.
One of the new entrants on the a cappella field is a Finnish group of five singers: Ninni Poijärvi (soprano), Susanna Hietala (alto), Jouni Kannisto (tenor), Tuomas Ahola (baritone) and Tuukka Haapaniemi (bass) called Club For Five (Club45). Like the now world-famous fellow vocal group Rajaton (album reviews: 1 | 2 | 3; concert review), Club For Five has stepped to the limelight by winning the annual vocal group competition Tampere International Choral Festival in 2001. So far the group has made only small-scale live performances mainly in Finland, but as they have now released their debut album Ensi-Ilta or in English Premiere (Universal Music (Finland) 986 826-0, 2004), there will surely be chances to enjoy the group's live music also abroad. Although the debut album indeed contains music sung mostly in Finnish (the only piece, the ever-funny and clever "Oula, take a Coca-Cola" being the great exception!), the usage of Finnish language should not put off the foreign listeners at all. In fact, it is part of the songs' moods really.
Most of the pieces are truly "classic of the classics" for Finns and many wonder why there aren't so much previously unrecorded material on the album, but every single one of those classics has been carefully rearranged by the very skillful Club For Five singers, so well that even I was able to find out several new aspects of the pieces on each time of listening! For example, the hilarious "Mikki-Hiiri Merihädässä" (Mickey Mouse on the Sea Danger) sounds even more lively than its original version made in 1936, whereas the lullaby "Sininen Uni" (Blue Dream) should also cause drowsiness for the foreign listeners! Not to say that the lullaby is dull, but it simply works!
Not forgetting of course the humour, which is a vital part of Club For Five's album. Of course some may think that the humour can be opened for us Finns only, but luckily this is not the case with Club For Five. It can really be heard from the music, one does not need to be an expert of Finnish music to enjoy the album in full.
To summarize, all the pieces on Club For Five's debut album Ensi-Ilta are really unique, showing all kinds of miraculous possibilities that one can do with a simple human voice. The music on the album is full of life with all kinds of hilarious instrument imitation effects made by the singers themselves, so those elements really make many to think how on earth the singers are not using any kind of "real" musical instruments in addition to their voices. Of course the group has used some echo machinery to boost their music, but that's indeed all of the technical side, believe it or not.
The album is a masterwork of showing the versatility of the human voices, and it really glues the listener next to the CD player over and over again without causing any fed up symptoms. It would be a very big pity if this album would not be released also outside Finland, because an album made this well and containing this unique and inventive a cappella music really deserves a much wider audience than just us Finns, not forgetting of course the live concerts! While waiting the international premiere, this album is a must listen if you happen to visit Finland and would like to place something new to your collection of CDs.--Suvi Kaikkonen in Oulu, Finland