Tuulikki Bartosik – Playscapes
Release Date: January 21, 2023
Label: Efni Records
Format: Album | Vinyl/Digital
Duration: 38:50 | 12 tracks
Genre: Ambient / Folk
Origin: Stockholm, Sweden
The Romanticism of Restlessness
The twelve-track longplayer „Playscapes“ is the third solo album by Estonian-Swedish artist Tuulikki Bartosik, and even if you have known her previous work, this one is very special. First of all, „Playscapes“ is a deeply personal album since it does not just present a sonic journey that leads from Estonia to Sweden, Finland, England and Japan. The twelve tracks follow the journey that Tuulikki Bartosik has made as a person and as an artist, and it thus represents parts of the musician’s biography and development. Furthermore, „Playscapes“ is Tuulikki Bartosik’s most international release so far. The tunes do not only refer to multiple places but also combine folklorist musical themes from Estonia, Sweden, Finland, England and Japan, creating a unique hybrid of traditional and modern sounds. It is the unique sound of Tuulikki Bartosik that was born in this artistic melting pot.
Breathing the Air of a Dozen Places
„Playscapes“ is not only the title of Tuulikki Bartosik’s third longplayer, it is furthermore a fitting term for the sound that is presented on it. One may speak of soundscapes, a mélange of Folk, Ambient and Art Pop, or a sonic representation of twelve stations of a journey – „Playscapes“. A dozen of momentary snapshots illustrate impressions of the artist’s biography. Each of these sonic images is rich in detail, and neither completely static nor moving dynamically. Imagine a picture that appears to be a still life at first sight, but once one commences to explore the subleties, movement of branches, leaves or a snowdrift becomes visible.
Images and sound brought to Life
The choice of instruments for this sonic journey is just perfect for three reasons. Firstly, Tuulikki Bartosik manages to implement an ideally cooperating line-up of traditional and modern tools. The artist herself has played a free-bass accordion by Pigini Accordions, Estonian zithers by Mihkel Soon, a piano by Nylund och Son, and a harmonium by K.A Andersson on the recordings, and majority of the vocals and chants was sung by her, too. Furthermore, Sander Mölder has contributed with an omnichord, a Yamaha PS-20 automatic bass chord system, a Casio-SK1, the cello and additional vocals on the tracks ‚Reval: Pettäsaamislugu‘, ‚繋がりTsunagari‘, ‚Stockholm‘ and ‚Livland: Suusilm‘. The track ‚Norrland‘ also contains sampled recordings by John Grzinich undertaken at South Estonian Mooste forest.
Secondly, it is the connection of instruments and musicked location that fits so well. Traditional Folk of the Baltics played on a domestic zither for example, adds indisputable authenticity to the soundscape while the Ambient conversion breathes new life into it.
And thirdly, it s the accordion itself – an instrument that has potential for ages. As Berlin-based artist Joanna Gemma Auguri said, you can feel the accordion breathing when playing it. It is an instrument that comes to life when you use it right.
Soundscapes, Dreamscapes, Playscapes
And like that, Tuulikki Bartosik’s third solo album is the first legit highlight of the year 2023 (on MangoWave at least). For forty minutes, the artist allows us to let go and dive into a fantastic dreamland made from cinematic sounds. Mostly nature-based, yet not shy of exploring urban spaces (as in ‚Stockholm‘), „Playscapes“ lets us travel across the Northern Hemisphere. The twelve playscapes‘ home is in similar spheres as the music produced by Joanna Gemma Auguri or Illudium. And if you enjoy a little Celtic dance, you will be happy to discover a ‚Shipping up to Boston‘ reference in ‚Sundbyberg‘.