The Sami, Europe's northernmost inhabitants, are an indigenous arctic culture inhabiting Fennoscandia (the Scandinavian Peninsula, the Kola Peninsula, Karelia and Finland). There, underneath the Baltic Sea, lies the Baltic Shield, the exposed Precambrian northwest segment of the East European Craton. It is composed mostly of volcanic rock belts which have undergone numerous deformations through tectonic activity. This region contains the oldest rocks of the European continent. During the Pleistocene epoch, great continental ice sheets scoured and depressed the shield's surface, leaving a thin covering of glacial material and innumerable lakes and streams. The Baltic Shield is still rebounding today following the melting of the thick glaciers during the our current ice age, the Quaternary Period.
This first full-length from Xambuca states dedication to the Saami people and the nation of Sapmi. The music here seems to equate not only to the 3 billion year old geological history of this icy multi-cultural region, but to the ancient pre-christian shamans, cult images and animal ceremonies so important to its people. Unfortunately, and much like the rest of Scandinavia, Swedish priests eventually refuted and abolished anything they deemed heathenism, superstition or witchcraft.
Joulupukki is cerebral electronic music fueled by dark ambience and introspection. These are soundscapes that are at once glacial and volcanic, driven by minimal beats that feel post-industrial and post-techno. There is a consistently somber mood presented here. Certain pieces hint at martial percussion and there are even sounds that invoke concepts of science fiction and Marinetti's retro-futurism that are all shrouded in Orwellian discontent. Later there is a track of doom-laden electric guitar that ever so slowly cuts through the breakers of the Baltic Sea.
Under this monumental weight, the Atlas that is Joulupukki manages to attain catharsis. The latter pieces over-driven, the beats big, brutal and nasty, the record seems to therapeutically expunge itself of all emotion, culminating in a final cut that is a defiant ship lost in a storm, battered by rogue waves yet faithfully waiting for the calm. In this state of mind, devoid of all concern, there is nothing left but a meditative stasis.
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