Cover: Pauliina Nykänen
Äänitys: Kaj Mäki-Ullakko
The Jazz-Emma and Teosto-nominated vocal group Signe’s album Morphemes is the second part of a series of three albums called Onomatopoesia, released by Eclipse Music.
With the Onomatopoeia trilogy, Signe is mapping the unexplored terrain of the human voice. The entirety of the three albums is a study of being senstitive towards our surroundings and the need to settle down in ever changing environments. The albums develop from the smallest parts of the language, from sounds to syllables, to words and finally lyrics.
Whereas Phonemes was collaboration with contemporary composers and guest musicians, on Morphemes Signe performs with its original line-up. Riikka Keränen, Selma Savolainen and Josefiina Vannesluoma on vocals and New York based Kaisa Mäensivu on double bass and vocals.
The band, active since 2015, has developed a strong collective sound and its own identity, thanks to which Signe is free to move with various sound palettes.
- Perhaps this band has been reinvented both through the visitors and the repertoire - commissioned contemporary music, pop, jazz. The band's sound always slips into some new compartment, vocalist Savolainen reflects.
The album opens with the title track, with the band's four vocal voices tasting the sounds and syllables of the word "morphemes". From here, we move to a space where we can relax in the echoes of past currents. The album's compositions borrow the traditions of jazz music and its mother, the blues.
- In my composition Please, I tried to arrange a typical stride piano set for singers and double bass. The first draft of Neo also came about as a result of boogaloo comping on the piano and feeling the Debussy-like harmony, says composer Vannesluoma.
- In my own work as a singer, syllables are strongly attached to jazz improvisation, but with Morphemes, syllables are also used in a predetermined way according to the composer's vision, says the band's Riikka Keränen.
The first actual composition will be Selma Savolainen's composition Pietà, which was inspired by Charles Mingus' playing and tone. Kaisa Mäensivu is responsible for gritty double bass tones, and Josefiina Vannesluoma's strong solos are prevalent in this piece. In her work, Savolainen has explored love from a mother's point of view and the resulting concern for her own child:
- Through the work, I try to visualize this comprehensiveness, which perhaps motherhood brings.
Pietà smoothly transitions to the second title, Helena, which is preceded by the composer's favorite parts of the album:
- There is a delicate moment when the band members listen very carefully to each other. From the transition, we sneak into a somewhat lighter atmosphere, where we singers play with the syllables "he", "le" and "na" at the same time while the bass repeats a slightly quirky bass riff.
The composition carries the mother theme to a very personal level, after all, it is named after the composer's mother.
- Between these two works, one of my questions is how a mother remains a "mother" to a child and locks into this role. After all, this has its own name and personality. For a child, at least for me, the mother's real name remains somewhat foreign.
Vannesluoma grabs hold of the theme of close interactions with the short track mamababana, in which which the gentle-sounding ensemble repeats the syllables interpreted by Keränen as if they were nicknames of family members.
Although Signe has previously ventured far and wide into the worlds of different time lines and imagined realities, from ancient Greece to a virtual plastic factory, Morphemes also thrives in the everyday circle of the life of its creators. The album's closing track says goodbye to Savolainen's beloved first car, a 1993 Opel Vectra.
- Vectra is a more upbeat composition. There's something really powerful about three singers singing the same melody in unison. It has almost the feeling of car chase, describes Savolainen.
The short song Kerouac, heard in the middle of the album, acts as a jam from Vectra, in which the band is "on its way" - referring to the well-known work of the author Jack Kerouac, On the Road.
The group's singer Riikka Keränen hopes that Signe's themes resonate with the listeners as they do with herself:
- When I heard the Morphemes album as a whole for the first time, it touched me deeply. I feel that Josefiina and Selma have reached for something fundamental and ancient in their compositions that speaks to the listener.
The previous part of the trilogy Phonemes, released in November 2021, was widely received with interest in the music field. With the album's three commissioned works, Signe's vocal trio stretched the sonic dimensions of sounds, or phonemes, together with guest artists Mika Kallio and Meriheini Luoto.
The development towards music with words goes through the syllable-based Morphemes album. The whole trilogy will culminate in the third album called Syntax, based on words and lyrics.
- morphemessäv. R. Keränen, K. Mäensivu, S. Savolainen, J. Vannesluoma
- Pietàsäv. Selma Savolainen
- Helena säv. Selma Savolainen
- Kerouac säv. Selma Savolainen
- Pleasesäv. Josefiina Vannesluoma
- Neosäv. Josefiina Vannesluoma
- mamababananasäv. Josefiina Vannesluoma
- Vectra säv. Selma Savolainen