Record Reviews

Album review: Gájanas “Čihkkojuvvon”

Sublime Nordic ethno-prog rock from exquisite Finnish band Gájanas.

Gájanas plays Sámi ethno-progressive music. This is progressive folk rock music built around the Sámi culture of the northern parts of the Nordic countries. Gájanas comes from the Inari-Utsjoki area of northern Finland and half of the members of the band are from Sámi families. Gájanas consists of Hildá Länsman on vocals and yoik, Nicholas Francett on guitar, cello and vocals, Kevin Francett on drums and Erkki Feodoroff on bass. Hildá Länsman grew up with the ancient Sámi traditions of reindeer husbandry, handicraft and yoik. She is the real deal and it shines through in her ethereal yet powerful voice. She is a force of nature, a natural and seductive talent. Gájanas is an excellent band which should appeal to those of us that like progressive rock, folk music and even Nordic black metal. To be clear, Gájanas does not play black metal but many of the same melancholic and dark elements as well as the close connection to nature can be found here. The Sámi history is a dark and difficult one. There are many parallels in Sámi history to that of Native Americans and other aboriginal people in the world. The band name Gájanas is Sámi for “echo” and this band’s melting pot of original music certainly has a lot of echoes and influences. The opening track “Almmi dolat” (“Northern Lights”) sets the tone for the album. We are immediately brought into a world where prog rock and even echoes of bands such as Pearl Jam and Soundgarden sit next to the ancient music of the Sámi people. The lyrics – all sung in Sámi – are melancholic and full of nature references, just like the music. The eight tracks on the album are rock solid. I love a killer eight-track album any day rather than a twelve-track album with a few fillers. The title track is an obvious highlight for me, but my favourite track is perhaps “Dollagaccat” (Sámi for “Hooves of Fire”) with its hypnotic music. “Diamántadulvvit” (“Floods of Diamonds”) is another snow-covered peak on this album. There is something very addictive about Gájanas’ music. The combination of ancient Sámi music with modern progressive rock is sublime. There are also terrific and sometimes hidden (the album title is Sámi for “hidden”) touches, twists and turns in the music. The terrific use of cello in the soundscape on the track “Hušša sisa” stands out.

Gájanas’ debut album “Čihkkojuvvon” is out now via Finnish label Bafe’s Factory.