To the delight of the many friends of the Finnish dark folk ensemble worldwide, the eagerly awaited TENHI album “Valkama” (“Harbour”/”Shelter”) is out today on Friday, June 9, 2023.
Parallel to the release of “Valkama” today, TENHI‘s limited hardcover slipcase box under the title “Collected Works 2023” is also coming out this Friday, June 9, 2023. The box contains all TENHI recordings from 1997 to 2023 on 14 vinyl LPs, which are for most part remastered and include “Valkama” as well as 5 double-sided 30x30cm art-prints. “Collected Works 2023” is available in two versions, one in black (ltd. 300) and the other in clear transparent vinyl (ltd. 200).
When night falls onto the sub-arctic landscapes of the Land of the Thousand Lakes, in the twilight of forest and swamps, the veils between our reality and the otherworld grow thin. It is at those times that stories such as ‘the fairy tale that never was’ leak into the lyrics and music of TENHI.
On their sixth album, “Valkama”, which translates as ‘harbour’ or ‘shelter’ among other meanings, the Finns originally began telling of a journey that was meant as a fairy tale in a burning, war-torn village and the crossing over dark waters to an island of the dead. The island is called Verisurma (‘the place for those who have suffered blood-death’) in Finnish folklore, where those dwell that died in war or were killed with a blade, and who shed blood on its shore forever.
Yet, during the ten years that TENHI were working on the album, our reality started to bleed into the otherworld with its own terrors and wars. Year after year, the musicians felt their story becoming more and more real until the point was reached that the band decided to change course.
Although echoes of the original work are still audible in the final music and visible in the artwork, the album now feels more harmonious and comforting, even brighter. The journey from this world to the other is more abstract and peaceful while still crossing dark waters, but after a decade TENHI have found the harbour called “Valkama”.
This transition of the story but also the long journey that the band undertook to reach their sheltering harbour are both reflected in the artwork of “Valkama”: An old wooden boat serves as a metaphor for various meanings such as a vessel, a coffin, a womb, a shelter, change, and the journey itself.
TENHI could hardly have picked a more suitable band-name. This old Finnish word means a person that is an ‘elder’ or ‘shaman’. And while the shamans of the ancient nomadic Finns are the guardians against but also the mediators between their communities and the spirit world, TENHI are their musical equivalent as a liminal force between dark folk, folk rock, and even reaching out into the normally electrified world of metal. The latter invites comparison with WARDRUNA and HEILUNG, although in a spiritual meaning and certainly not by way of a stylistic comparison.
TENHI were conceived by guitarist and vocalist Tyko Saarikko in 1996. Ilmari Issakainen joined the band few years later. Together they form the creative core of the group. After self-releasing the demo “Kertomuksia” (1997) and the MCD “Hallavedet” (1998), the Finns immediately hit a nerve with their debut full-length “Kauan” in 1999. TENHI started into the new millennium with another MCD entitled “Airut:ciwi” (2000), which was followed by a string of albums from “Väre” (2002) via “Maaäet” (2006) and “Airut:aamujen” (2006) to “Saivo” (2011).
With each new album, the Finns continued to grow a dedicated following that is coming from different musical directions. From the start, TENHI have combined acoustic instrumentation and a traditional vibe with structures based on contemporary rock music. While their previous full-length “Saivo” tilted more towards an ambient-style and panoramic soundtrack feeling, “Valkama” returns to a more song-oriented approach – even though the tracks retain an epic and meandering format.
“Valkama” comes with the trademark Finnish longing and melancholia, but despite its audible darkness, TENHI offer a musical outlet from the horrors of the modern world. In the twilight world of the North, “Valkama” is the silver-lining on the horizon promising shelter and peace.
Release date: June 9, 2023
Style: Dark Folk
Tyko Saarikko – vocals, guitar, harmonium and piano
Ilmari Issakainen – guitar, piano, drums, bass and backing vocals
Tuukka Tolvanen – backing vocals
Inka Eerola – violin
Janina Lehto – flute and backing vocals
Jaakko Hilppö – backing vocals
Miika Vuoristo – viola on ‘Ulapoi’
Jussi Lehtinen – backing vocals on ‘Ulapoi’
Paula Rantamäki – backing vocals on ‘Kesävihanta’ and ‘Aina sininen aina’
Recording and mix by Tyko Saarikko, Ilmari Issakainen and Tuukka Tolvanen at UTUstudio (2014-2022)
Mastering by Tyko Saarikko, Ilmari Issakainen and Tuukka Tolvanen at UTUstudio
Additional mastering by Markus Stock at Klangschmiede Studio E (2022)
Artwork & Layout by Tyko Saarikko
“Valkama” is available as a 36-page hardcover artbook with regular and bonus CD, and as Gatefold 2LP on black vinyl, on clear vinyl, on white vinyl, and as a CD.