Tuntematon maa (The Unknown country) 2006
Rockadillo Records ZENCD 2107
1. The Meadow of Havukka-aho
2. The Järvenpää Railway Station
3. The World of Grandma Jylli
4. The Hanko Regatta
6. The Tervaneva Marshland
7. The Fields of Pentinkulma
8. The Turjanlinna Castle
Tuntematon Maa - The Unknown country (released 23.8.2006)
Mixed by Juuso Nordlund, Anssi Tikanmäki & Petri Rappula/Petrax-studio
Mastered by Pauli Saastamoinen/Finnvox
Produced by Anssi Tikanmäki & Juuso Nordlund
Recording assistant: Eljas Tikanmäki
Data transfer: Tomi Pietilä
Cover design & photo processing: Elmo Salmi
Cover photos: Vesa Ranta
ATO-band photo: Anssi Männistö
Produced by Bardi Oy
All compositions by Anssi Tikanmäki
all musicians, Maarit, Tapio Korjus, Lumi Vesala, Juuso (JJ), Elmo, Tiina ja Petri Rappula (Petrax), Juho Rappula ja Valtra, Antti Vihinen, Petri Silas, Pauli (Finnvox), Jani Viitanen, Sini Perho, Raija Sinisalo, Jouko Karppanen, Pauli Rantasalmi & Kwan, Hangon keksi, Aki, Mika, Veikko Huovinen, Sakari Mustanoja, Upi Sorvali r.i.p., special thanks to Ana
Thank you for support: Suomen Kulttuurirahasto, Taiteen keskustoimikunta, Tampereen kaupunki & LUSES
Sami plays Finnish Kumu drums and Eljas plays Finnish Sowo drums
Anssi Tikanmäki - piano, keys (1-8), Sami Kuoppamäki - drums (2-6), Juuso Nordlund - el. bass (2-6, 8), Eemil Tikanmäki - el. guitar (2-8), Eljas Tikanmäki - organ, keys, perc. (1-8), drums (7, 8), Reijo Karvonen - el. bass (7), Peter Lerche - ac. guitar (1, 2), el. guitar (7), Pauliina Lerche - accordion (1, 7), kantele (3), Pentti Lahti - soprano, alto & tenor sax, flute, Esa Juutilainen - flute, tenor sax, Masa Orpana - clarinet, tenor sax, Kari Nikkanen - oboe, Jouni Suuronen - horn, Pasi Tiitinen - horn, Aki Välimäki - trumpet, Tapio Kilpinen - trumpet, Petri Juutilainen - trombone, Kari Koivisto - trombone, Henrik Perello - violin, István Zsalay - violin, Heikki Hannikainen - violin, Pirjo Tulisalmi - violin, Nina Kulhia - violin, Hanna Peltoniemi - violin, Heidi Kuula - violin, Lea Antola - violin, Anne Korhonen - viola, Panu Saari - cello, Veikko Sinisalo - voice
Texts by Anssi Tikanmäki, except "Havukka-aho" by Antti Vihinen
Translation and notes by Petri Silas
The Meadow of Havukka-aho
Every Finnish summer cottage could be called Havukka-aho. It is the place where one escapes when the bickering of the boss, the spouse, the neighbour or Helsinki, the Kremlin, Brussels or the White House becomes unbearable. It is where one finds peace and solace from the clamour of the world. It is Ye Olde Finland, the location where every Grandma and Grandpa hails from. When a Finn sits down on a stump by the campfire, he or she is instantly transformed into a philosopher of the wilderness, a Konsta Pylkkänen pondering on the comings and goings of the inchworm. Whilst on Havukka-aho, one's thoughts are blue and they soar as a buzzard-like kite on the azure sky.
There is a certain archaic loveliness in the simple legend of “the wooden people”. In fact, this forest world is the foundation of the primordial Finnish home. Every Finn yearns to get there and every Finn knows instinctively what it is all about. The traffic jams right before the Midsummer Day festivities, these veritable floods of vehicles containing temporary urban refugees attempting to flee the big cities and return to the womb of nature stand to testify that the true Finnish ”self” does not necessarily reside in the owner-occupied flat utopia of some sweet concrete suburbia.
On Havukka-aho, the world is first reduced to something quite small. But soon the consciousness takes this microcosm and blows it up until it expands into infinite space. We would not exist without this supernova, this mental Havukka-aho. But Havukka-aho is no wonderland at the end of the yellow-brick road. It is of this time and of this place. If nothing more, it is a small splinter in every small broken Finnish heart. They say less is more. On Havukka-aho this ”less” is not only ”more”, but also something rugged and beautiful. Less and more; rugged yet beautiful.
n.b. If there ever was a story that captured the essence of “the Finnish Zen”, it was Veikko Huovinen's lauded 1952 novel Havukka-ahon ajattelija (The Thinker of Havukka-aho), starring the philosophical lumberjack Konsta Pylkkänen.
The Järvenpää Railway Station
It sure is a busy life. And to add to this, the amount of haste is not a constant. It grows year after year after year. If you want to find out what haste is all about these days, come visit the Järvenpää railway station! On the platform you can experience a hustle and bustle which increases and decreases with clockwork precision according to the movement of trains.
The Northbound rails are constantly repaired and developed and the speed is ever accelerating as the Pendolino train leads the way! With a quick whizz it sweeps past.
There was a time when trains used to rattle. These days they are too fast to make any kind of noise. They too are busy. Now the only rattle on the railroad comes from the spray cans in the pockets and bags of youngsters. ”Yo, man”.
A mere ten miles separates the lively scenery of the Lake Tuusula Road from the old church of Pornainen. Beside this church lies a cemetery. Amongst the graves is an unassuming headstone, which marks the final resting place of a Finnish movie star of the 1940's and 1950's.
From Regina Linnanheimo's grave one can gaze over the Mustijoki River and marvel at an archetypal Finnish countryside with its fields and pastures. This is where Linnanheimo used to return to; in the middle of this idyllic, beautiful and calming rural setting.
In the village of Pornainen, time has stopped. Every once in a while it actually becomes necessary to make it stop. And even though this tiny, sleepy parish is almost entirely surrounded by the humming, buzzing and glittering of the trendy metropolitan Helsinki, the illusion of a bygone era has stood the test of time.
The World of Grandma Jylli
”Oh, how the world has a way of tossing us around”, said Grandma Jylli as she moved into a row house. The moving men arrived yesterday taking the chickens, the sheep and the cow, turning everything upside down in the process, packing Grandma's belongings in crates and boxes and carrying them over to the new abode. Laminate flooring, close-fitting windows, microwave ovens and other apparatuses. How on earth do these gadgets work? Is it even safe to touch them?!
Luckily, the old heirloom clock still endures and ticks away as if nothing ever happened. Grandma sits down in her rocking chair and switches the TV on. The world seems so different over there too. Yet another quiz show, yet another tough word to figure out. Let's see what is it today. Four letters. Starts with an ”F”.
But what a blessing it is that some things just don't change. Soon it is time for the next episode of 'The Bold and the Beautiful'. Wonder what's going on with Ridge and Brooke. They live forever.
The same tall spruces which were once seen through the windows to the South are still there, steady as ever. Now they shelter Grandma's new home from the winds from the North. In the winter the snow drifts make the branches arch.
The Hanko regatta
As I arrive in the town of Hanko on a weekend in early July I am taken aback by the gargantuan mass of people gathered there. Are they still celebrating the Midsummer? What is the meaning of this circus and hullabaloo?
Everybody seems to be having the time of their life. People with picnic baskets are everywhere: On the lawns and on the rocks and the sand on the beach. There are deck chairs, beach balls and idle, loitering citizens as far as the eye can see!
And trash, of course. Mounds of waste have already accumulated in the park and on the shoreline. One must be careful not to step in broken glass. There's bottles, there's cans. A cola beverage seems to have been consumed, some beer as well – even champagne!
What can it be, this fine occasion I almost missed? Which fashionable theme has this Southern coastal town devised for the solvent and culture-starved human being to enjoy?
One must find out what is going on here. Immediately after posing the question a helpful creature gesticulates: ”Go over there. The beer tent's that way. The band of the day is The Karaokes!”
Right. Thanks for the tip, buddy. Just what I was looking for...
Suddenly, as I gaze over the sea of people towards the Gulf of Finland, it finally dawns on me: This is nothing if not the Hanko regatta!
Further away on the high seas, a fresh breeze is blowing, whitecaps sparkle in the sun and white sails are stretched out by the wind. There, heaving to, jibing, and what-have-you on the sou'wester with the other old salts, a face grown weary of the rigours of regatta life once again acquires its healthy sheen!
Jag älskar smultron, havet – och det största möjliga frihet!
n.b. In Finland, yachting is stereotypically associated with the Swedish-speaking minority of the people. Therefore it is but natural that the last sentence is in Swedish. Translated, it reads: “I love strawberries, the ocean – and the biggest possible freedom known to man!”
This is what the encyclopedia has to say. Founded: 1937. Area: 349 km2. Population: 28 000 people. Some well-known places: Siuro, Pinsiö, Tottijärvi.
I have a feeling this is not Tokyo. Neither can it be Rio. No, Sir. It is Nokia from the ancient tribal area of Häme in Finland!
Yet, this five-letter word is omnipresent. One stumbles upon it all over the world.
But what does the Tokyo resident think as he or she sees the Nokia commercial? After all, the product itself does seem like something they could have invented themselves. And what about the cariocas strolling through the alleys and streets of Rio? Do they know that there is a living and breathing meaning behind the word – which incidentally originates from the word nois, noki and means the sable, a cat-size mammal of the weasel family – and the logo that nowadays seems to represent nothing but a beeping and bleeping high tech image created by an advertising agency?
This living and breathing meaning is found in a Finnish town of the same name. It is a real native locality with real inhabitants, real nature and a very real history.
Nokia has been a trailblazer of social development in Finland ever since the days of the Club War in 1596 as the peasants, led by Jaakko Ilkka, met their fate in the bloody battle on the grounds of the Nokia Manor.
In a way, this tradition continues today. The tiny groundwood mill originally founded on the brink of the Emäkoski Rapids has expanded into a factor of force on the arena of the global information society.
... Let us now join in singing hymn # 3210 which begins with the words ”Connecting people”...
The Tervaneva Marshland
These are the very last moments of a lucid summer night. A cold and damp fog hovers over the Tervaneva marshland. Every once in a while some swamp bird sings its lamenting song amidst this barren landscape stripped of every tree. Soon, the nocturnal flame of the Will-o'-the-Wisp will peter out and the apocryphal atmosphere fades away with the first rays of the morning sun. At that very moment, the marshland ceases to be the despised dominion of the killing frost. After shedding its skin of dusk it releases the pungent aromas of wild rosemary and swamp gases born deep in the bosom of the black mud. Dragonflies commence their flights over the green desert of moss and gadflies and mosquitoes awaken to pester everyone who dares to cross their path.
The Tervaneva is one of the few remaining Ur-marshlands. It is charged with the superiority of nature over man and the simple beauty and peace which makes people humble in its presence – sooner or later.
Because the swamp is the place where nature and human nature have measured their strengths ever since the dawn of time. This is where every Finn meets his or hers enigmatic soulscape, illustrated in varying measure and in its own special way by the fragile white sheathed cottonsedge, the acerbic cranberry and the murky bog hole.
If you are not careful in treading on the causeway, you may stagger, lose your footing and sink into the morass. But it is also possible to rise from the swamp and correct one's mistake. There is a clear analogy in between the old marshland drains one must eventually fill and the wounds of a man. In both cases, life goes on.
The Fields of Pentinkulma
"In the beginning there were the swamp, the hoe – and Jussi.” Jussi took the hoe in his hand and cleared the swamp into a field which he then cultivated with stamina and skill. He asked for a blessing, tilled the soil, sowed the seed, cut and bound up the sheaves. During harvest the threshing machine puttered and pulsated all day long as the sacks of grain were filled. It was true labour and hard at that. But from his own field he got his daily bread. No one had helped him out. It was these frostbitten Northern clearings that had taught him how to become a farmer. This man had truly mastered his own fate. Then, one day a bureaucrat from Brussels appeared on the side of his field. This man observed, examined, and regulated. Finally he gave Jussi the following advice:
Oh what a happy camper Jussi now must be! The agenda is prepared, the forms printed out, the sowing directives decreed – even the trusty Valtra tractor has been automized. Like the Stella Polaris, a satellite twinkles on the sky guarding the base parcels of the Pentinkulma farm.
n.b. One might assume that the middle paragraph is written in Finnish. Indeed, this is the case. However, as the text is formulated by the EU bureaucrats, someone whose mother tongue is Finnish – like Jussi who comes from the pages of Väinö Linna's acclaimed trilogy Under the North Star (1959-62) – has as good a chance of understanding it as someone whose mother tongue is English. Or Urdu. Or Inuit.
The Turjanlinna Castle
Even though the Kainuu wilderness may not be the easiest place to live on the planet, the shores of lakes Kiantajärvi and Vuokkijärvi have been settled ever since the Stone Age. The nature in the Kainuu region is as beautiful as it is scanty. It has adapted both to the scorching heat of the summer and the freezing cold of the winter. And when it comes to people, there seems to be no limit to their enthusiasm and stamina as they wage their wars against circumstances and fate. A man is always up to the challenge, and he is in the game only to win.
A little bit later, when both slashing and burning and the distilling of tar were already things of the past, a certain Ilmari Calamnius arrived in Suomussalmi. It was the beginning of the 1900's and the scenery of the tract pleased his eye. To honour the nearby Kiantajärvi, he changed his name to Kianto and built his castle, the Turjanlinna, in Leppikanta. This stately edifice, named after a mythical character, the soothsayer of Turja, housed Kianto's study. This study was dubbed “Paradise” and it was there the man wrote many a tale depicting the destinies of people living in the wild. In the evenings, as the work was done, he often stood in his parlour marvelling at the sun setting behind the forest of Vuonanniemi.
During the first days of the Winter War in late 1939, Turjanlinna was destroyed in the severe battles on the road to Raate. But Kianto was not the kind of man who gives up. After the war, he built his forest fortress anew. However, Lady Luck turned her back on the building a second time. It burnt down to the ground again! The author never built a third castle but he did live in the area he so passionately loved to the very end of his days. He wanted to be near a particular kind of nature which is as plain and pure as the water in the Kullanperä mire.