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GRAHAMSTOWN - MUSIC (article first published : 1999-06-27)

“What’s yoiking?”, you may ask. Well, if you don’t get to Grahamstown to see this ”vocal voyage into the heart of Finnish Lapland”, you can catch a performance at the BAT Centre in Durban (see advert).

This year’s Standard Bank National Arts Festival hosts the Wimme Saari Folk Band members who will display their mastery of the ancient art of yoiking. This is traditional Sami music, an archaic mode of largely unaccompanied solo singing.

Wimme is a modern interpreter of the Sami yoiks and practices what is termed free yoiking. Combing the colourful grittiness of traditional yoiking elements with original improvisations, he constructs intensive, clear melodic arches and stretches his voice from a sweet falsetto to a gravely baritone. Only simple, subtle accompaniments are used to give his performance shape and breadth - natural animal samplings, fuzzy synthesizer tones or the blowing wind. The whole effect is eerie and atmospheric.

Beautiful, ambient and haunting, Wimme Saari is an intense artist with a singular vision who succeeds in creating new music from old traditions without falling into the trap of revivalism. Wimme Saari Folk Band took audiences by storm on their brief tour of South Africa last year


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