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Review: Sami Jokinen – Occult Folk (released November 23, 2016)

When Sami Jokinen isn’t playing bass with Finnish space rock group Multishiva, he goes solo and explores a world of dark and bewitching psychedelic folk music. Occult Folk is his debut solo release. Through the course of the album, Jokinen weaves together traditional folk idioms with a modern rock consciousness, and takes some influences from the avant-garde and experimental realms of music, not to mention psychedelia. It makes for a unique and haunting journey.

From the very start, with The Other’s dissonant notes and strangely distorted vocals, one gets a sense that you’ve stepped off the map and entered an unknown world where dark figures murmur mysterious invocations to those who are ready to hear them. But the album’s mood is always shifting. It’s a changeling, always taking on new forms. On the very next track, the instrumental Rituaalikuume, ethnic melodies plucked on acoustic instruments lope along to a kind of 60’s folk rock groove. And so it goes, from the Indian influenced Serpent’s Kiss to the raucous stomp of Ecstasy (Occult Folk) and on.

I like how Jokinen often filters his vocals through various effects adding to the pervasive weirdness of the album. In many songs, he shifts dramatically from melodic singing to a more incantative style of vocalizing, most notably on A Ray of Naked Light, where he is joined by female vocalist Inka, whose voice adds another dimension to the complex layers of sound. The lyrics are a kind of invitation as well as statement of purpose: “Painting metaphysical landscapes/O, come down the road/Let's bend towards the light…”

Towards the end of the album, Jokinen also offers up several stripped-down and quite beautiful instrumentals in the form of Transfiguration and Magia.

Jokinen himself describes the album as a “self-mythological journey”. There is definitely a mythological sensibility to Occult Folk; one of ancient forests where even more ancient gods dwell, half-remembered in the mists of time. And once one sets foot into this mythical forest, the enchantment takes hold and won’t let go.

For more info, and to hear the album visit:

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