On her third album KOAN, Johanna Elina Sulkunen has launched a new solo project called Sonority.
On her third album KOAN, Johanna Elina Sulkunen has launched a new solo project called Sonority. The project invites to a multilayered travel of sounds of a human voice mixed with electronics and touching on life’s big questions. The name of the album, Kōan means a paradoxical anecdote or riddle without a solution, used in Zen Buddhism to demonstrate the inadequacy of logical reasoning and provokes enlightenment.
All the sounds on the album are based on vocal sounds and field recordings from Japanese Buddhist temples and manipulation of them– electronically. Johanna travelled to Japan in 2016 to record in temples and collect sounds.
“I had to contextualize the text and the project that I'm working with somehow. I also wanted to record the sounds and objects in the temples to create music with the surroundings,” says Johanna.
Rather than concentrating on the storytelling, the language has been used as a tool. It has been broken into pieces exposing the poetics of a sonic material of letters, syllables, and words and revealing an infinite source of sound-based composition and improvisation.
“Concentrating on sound has opened a lot of doors for me as a composer and vocalist. The ‘liberation of sound’ is not a new statement, but with my background as so-called ‘jazz vocalist’ the use of electronics and the more sound based composing combined with the full autonomy in solo playing has been a personal liberation for me.”
Along with her jazz background, some of the biggest influences for the project shine through in the album. Among them, Morton Feldman, Pauline Oliveros, and on the other hand electronic musicians like Ikue Mori and Holly Herndon.
“Discoveries in the sonic universe of human vocal sounds and electronics invite you to a room that resonates in all of us”
The result is a special combination of electronic music, improvised vocals and contemporary music mixed with jazz influences. Human vocal sounds and electronic sounds create a symbiosis where electronics become embodied in the human body and voice becomes electric.
Johanna Elina Sulkunen is a Finnish vocalist/com- poser living in Copenhagen since 2009. Since then she has released two albums with the name ‘Johanna Elina’, whereas the latest one ’Belonging’ was nominated for a Danish Music Award. She is also a co-leader of an award-winning vocal group IKI and has multiple other collaborations ranging from free improvisation, alternative pop to modern jazz with e.g. Tomasz Stańko, Hilmar Jenson, Mike Sheridan and many others.