The album will be released on 27 January, 2021


Photo Ville Lehvonen

Finnish musician Marjo Smolander was born in 1986 in Rääkkylä, a tiny village in Northern Karelia near to Russian border. It is the very same village where the world renowned folk music group Värttinä comes from. Because of Värttinä’s success there was a folk music boom in the village and so Marjo also started learning traditional music when she was a child. Värttinä’s Finno-Ugric musical style has had a remarkable impact on the development of Marjo’s musical language. 

Marjo plays a traditional Finnish instrument called Kantele, which is also the Finnish national instrument. Her way of playing this instrument is certainly unique. Since 2006 Marjo has regularly visited Senegal and Mali, and as a result her musical style has evolved to incorporate the tough and rhythmic features of Senegalese and Malian music combining them with the Finno-Ugric music she first heard as a child. 

Marjo is also known from the duo Zäpämmät and Finnish-Senegalese Sunuy xale team.

The album:

In the album “Cosmologies” Marjo collaborates with different artists from different countries. West Africa is strongly presented. The album was recorded in living rooms and standard recording studios across four different countries, Finland, Senegal, Denmark and Mali. The driving force behind the album was the exploration of musical communication between artists from different cultures and how emotions and stories were transmitted to people who have different cosmologies. The musical traditions of the different cultures represented in the album are presented in an inspiring and fluent way. Music is not just music. It talks. It comforts. And it nurtures. 

One of the main themes of the album is motherhood “Many of the songs have been inspired by parenting – growing up with it and the associated contradiction and guilt about my own inadequacy” Smolander opens the album’s theme.

The album is a diary, a statement and a portfolio all at the same time. Rough and honest stories combined with surprising and beautiful arrangements bringing you inside Smolander’s musical cosmology. 

Featuring artists:

Malian Tuareg guitarist, singer and songwriter Ahmed ag Kaedy is the leader of the group Amanar de Kidal. He is originally from Kidal, North Mali. He released his solo album Akaline Kidal in 2018 (Sahel sounds). Tuareg music is often referred to as ”Desert Blues”. Ahmed is one of the main characters in the 2016 big screen documentary ”Mali Blues”. 

Senegalese percussionist Yatma Thiam is the son of Senegal’s most celebrated tama players Assane Thiam who plays with Youssou Ndour. The Thiam family are traditionally tama players, and Yatma continues this long lasting griot tradition. Yatma himself plays tama with Viviane Chidid (former Ndour) who is one of the most famous Senegalese pop divas today. Yatma is a family member of Marjo and has been her instructor to Senegalese music life.

Award winning Gambian kora player Dawda Jobarteh was born into a famous musical dynasty in Gambia. Dawda is the grandson of Alhaji Bai Konté and the son of Amadou Bansang Jobarteh. He has absorbed a range of influences that cover a whole gamut of musical styles. He is one of the most interesting kora players of his time. Beside his solo project, Dawda is also known for Moussa Diallo trio and duo Dawda Jobarteh and Stefan Pasborg. He is currently based in Denmark.

Finnish drummer Mikko Hassinen has created an extensive career as a jazz drummer, leading bands and collaborating with prominent performers. He has written music for his own ensembles and for the UMO Jazz Orchestra, with which he has also played drums and conducted concerts. In 2009, he won the Esko Linnavalli Composition Competition with his piece Karhunvartija, and in 2015 he received the Teosto Prize for his works on the album Elektro GT.

Danish singer, violinist, percussionist and dancer Eliza Boye Mouritsen is specialised in West African dance and music. Since 2016 she has been traveling to Senegal, Guinea, Mali, Tanzania, Cuba, USA, England and Sweden to study West African dance and music. She works at the artistic company called Batteria Bou Bess. The company performed the dance concert Letting Loose in Aarhus, Denmark in 2018 which she choreographed.

Jenni Hanikka is a Finnish flutist and singer based in Denmark. She is a versatile musician  specialising in Finnish, Asian and Malian traditional flutes. She is a leading member of the multicultural The Bloody Rooster Band and A fo!, an all female orchestra. She also plays in Duo Kuosikulma and experiments in musical improvisation with different artistic projects.