The wintry spell cast by RIJA’s Silent Heart is nearly impossible to shake off; the ethereal beauty conjured by vocalist Aija-Riitta Holopainen and composer/arranger/guitarist Harald Peterstorfer in track after track dazzles the senses in epic fashion, creating a need for repeated spins that borders on addiction. Each listen reveals another layer of sonic gorgeousness as Holopainen’s voice and Peterstorfer’s guitars are embedded with subtly beautiful hooks. They shine like diamonds.
On “Breathing,” Peterstorfer illustrates a web of mystery with his cinematic acoustic riffs. Visions of wide-open spaces haunt the mind; pictures of a lonely desert at night unreel through the imagination. Through this landscape, Holopainen’s angelic voice glides through the air, illuminating the sad prettiness of Peterstorfer’s guitar.
For the most part, Silent Heart feels like a soundtrack to a movie that hasn’t been made but should be. Peterstorfer is writing with a poet’s ear; even when you can’t understand the language, there is a literary vibe in the overall atmosphere of the record. Holopainen and Peterstorfer really strike gold on “Itse Laulan,” wherein their collective talents reach an artistic peak. Peterstorfer’s playing unites the icy styling of New Age with the melodic smoothness of jazz while Holopainen’s singing is lovingly playful.
The darker “Lokah Samastah” recalls the psychedelic ‘60s as spectral percussion and an otherworldly turn from Holopainen take center stage. Peterstorfer opens the doors to a parallel universe with his swirling riffs. Like everything else on Silent Heart, it’s a trip.