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European folk and World music flavor debut album from Rija
(Published: December 20, 2014)

Technically, the music of Rija is Finnish-Austrian considering that its lead vocalist/songwriter, Aija-Riitta Holopainen, hails from Finland while her collaborator, composer/guitarist Harald Peterstorfer, is from Austria, the reason the overall sound of this group's full-length Silent Heart (2013) has a generally European folk flavor.

However, an enthusiast of World music is surely in for a delicious treat because the album draws not only from the duo's home-grown influences but also from an array of other culture's musical styles.

The hypnotic appeal of Silent Heart is immediate. Right onto the album's opener, "Liberation of the Goddess," the listener is treated instantly to an exotic delight. Tabla pulses and Nordic female vocal styling similar to an Indian tappa or thumri define this Hindustani-flavored track. What follows is like a hyperspatial jump to another musical dimension.

"Moon and Sun" is a ballad brimming with Oriental melodies, reminiscent of the Cantonese/Japanese pop sensibilities of the Asian singer-songwriters Faye Wong and Utada Hikaru. "Lakshmi" is yet another jump, an ode to the Hindu deity set to a music that is complementary to the lyric - slow tempo, graceful vocals, sitar strums, and a monotonal melody resembling mantric chants.

"Traumzauberbaum" is an extension of the previous track, but with a twist in the coda-a guitar scaling with a vibe reminiscent of Mike Oldfield's "Tubular Bells."

The vocal melody and the drone of what sounded like a harmonium in "Katselin" might remind the listener of the Canterbury sound of "Winter Wine" by the English band Caravan. After a hint of progressive rock comes something angelic, acoustic, yet metallic. With its springy guitar riffs and marching snare rolls, "Itse Laulan" is worthy of being played alongside any song from an imaginary unplugged version of Metallica's Black Album.

"Dancing Skies" is quick and sweet, less than two minutes of scatting vocals that recalls Elizabeth Fraser and Dolores O'Riordan on a backdrop of driving percussion and staccato-ish punch of guitar and string melodies. Its Irish folk feel paints a picture of children frolicking on a mountainside.

The title track, "Silent Heart," is certainly the heart of the album: a proper ballad, reflective and romantic. "Secrets of the Heart" sounds like a reprise of the album's opener, a seeming reminder that Rija's music is truly engaging and delightful and captivating yet liberating at the same time. "Breathing" is indeed a breather - flowing instruments and hushed vocals. Finally, "Lokah Samastah" is definitely Sanskrit-influenced, with an intricate interplay of tabla and wobbly, icy-sounding guitars.

With the diverse platter of Silent Heart, Rija dishes out a variety of their inspirational or coincidental kindred spirits such as Enya, Dead Can Dance, Enigma, Sarah Brightman, Clannad, the Cocteau Twins, and the Cranberries. So, if Rija's music is food, then Silent Heart is a 12-course multicultural dinner in service à la mondial.

More Information: http://https://www.facebook.com/pages/RIJA/122655502277?fref=photo

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