Tapani Rinne is synonymous with the Finnish band Rinneradio, which he steered since its inception as an offshoot from fellow countryman Edvard Vesala in the late 1980s. Over the years, Rinne has ventured into the spheres of hip-hop and electronica, straight fusion, dark dub, lush ambient soundscapes, even Saami yoik singing. But always he has kept one or two fingers in the jazz pot.
Pole Stars shows Rinne and his recent collaborators, Verneri Lumi (electronics) and Juuso Hannukainen (percussion), bending their ears much more intensively to the far northLapland, and an almost coarse, acoustic sound. Rinne's clarinet and saxophones rasp with an immediate clarity rarely heard on his earlier discs. The percussion varies between the lightest of rattles and taps to the heaviest of knocks and thuds, and even guest guitarist Matti Wallenius sounds like a five-and-dime six-string on "Ages," gently brushed with a raw finger.
Under the title Pole Stars, the album is packaged with a logo which appears to feature a Red or Roe Deer. Attractive as the cover is, a reindeer might have been more appropriate, with three songs featuring Saami vocals from Ulla Pirttijärvi or Rinne's regular guest Wimme Saari. Both singers' eerie lyrics combine with music whose sparseness induces images of empty fells and tundra, not to mention images inspired by the robotic-style throat singing of Imre Peemot on "Green Lite."
This is indeed a spacious-sounding album, very different from the insistence and tension of earlier works. The emphasis here again is often on a strong rhythmic base, but the limited use of processed sounds combined with the bevy of invited acoustic players is truly refreshing. For a band featuring a full-time electronicist, the result is frequently so light it could be classified as World Music. It seems Rinne's compositional muse has decamped to the vicinity of one or the other of his proposed Poles.
Personnel: Tapani Rinne: clarinet, tenor saxophone; Verneri Lumi: electronics; Juuso Hannukainen: percussion.
Guests: yoik singers: Ulla Pirttijärvi and Wimme Saari; kantele: Eva Alkula; accordion: Johanna Juhola; throat singer: Imre Peemot; also Teho Majamäki, Pekka Kuusisto, Marzi Nyman, Zarkus Poussa ja Matti Wallenius.