SANS – Kulku
Cloud Valley CV2018
Release date 1st September 2018
Zither-player and multi-instrumentalist Andrew Cronshaw, the great Finnish singer Sanna Kurki-Suonio (ex Hedningarna), multi-instrumental reeds player Ian Blake and Armenian duduk master Tigran Aleksanyan formed SANS as a result of all four appearing on Cronshaw’s 9th album, The Unbroken Surface of Snow. Their first live performances as a quartet, indeed Sanna’s first meeting with Ian and Tigran, were at Finland’s Kaustinen festival in 2011, and later that year in London came their debut appearance under the name SANS.
The CD SANS Live, released in 2014, was recorded on a tour in Flanders.
Kulku is SANS’s first studio album.
In the course of recording it, in the winter of 2017-18, in a beautiful spacious oak barn conversion in Suffolk, they were joined by Sanna’s daughter Erika Hammarberg as guest singer. Her contribution – vocal and in composition and lyrics – was so major that it was clear she should join the band.
Jim Sutherland, Scottish musician, composer and leader of the 36-member international La Banda Europa, was brought in to produce, and his influence has very much helped SANS into new creative territory.
Previously SANS had just one singer; now it has not only Sanna and Erika but joining them for the first time here is Ian’s deep bass voice.
While Andrew has been known to use a wide array of instruments, for this album he plays just two: 74-string electrified zither (which, with Ian’s bass clarinet, provides not only its ringing chiming but also the album’s bass end and rhythmic pulses) and marovantele, a two-sided, double-strung stereo electric kantele of his own invention which was partly inspired by Madagascar’s double-sided zither the marovany (with which he became familiar during his years working with Madagascan band Tarika).
Both Sanna and Erika play Sanna’s 10-string, carbon-fibre-strung kantele.
Tigran plays duduk, his country’s heart-rendingly voice-like reed pipe, of which he’s a leading player. Ian, who like Andrew is a multi-instrumentalist, here plays just reeds – bass clarinet, clarinet and soprano sax – plus melodica, and a couple of notes on bass guitar.
All the songs are in Finnish, except Kazvatti – Four Sorrows, which is in a dialect of the closely related Finno-Ugrian language Karelian.
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