Burning Hearts – Aboa Sleeping

Burning Hearts - Aboa Sleeping

Burning Hearts - Aboa Sleeping

The debut album by Burning Hearts is the new project from Finnish musicians Jessika Rapo from Le Futur Pompiste and Henry Ojala of Cats on Fire.  This collaboration was not necessarily a chance encounter as their two bands have toured together and Rapo has made an appearance on the Cats’ debut The Province Complains.

“I Lost My Colour Vision” opens with an electronic drumbeat fit for an early 90’s song followed by hints of Fleetwood Mac guitars and The Moody Blues-style synthetic strings.  Then double-tracked female vocals jump in alongside lightheared keys and bouncy tamberine for a sound verging on twee.  Everything fits and makes perfect sense.  Aboa Sleeping has a timeless quality in that it manages to span several decades of music, mixing hints and layers of different generations into dreamy pop sequences that work, quite well actually. 

Normally I’m not a fan of the electronic drumbeat, but it works just fine as a base layer on several songs here.  In “Various Lives” it appears as the foundation for a dreamy tune filled with sweeping vocals, synthetic strings and what sounds like a xylophone.

But not all tracks insist on dipping into the electronic.  “Iris” is an indie pop gem with catchy yet yearning vocals that ride along on a bed of jangly guitars.  Despite the more traditional flavor, the song maintains the dreamy grace that runs throughout the album. 

“The Galloping Horse” uses samples from “Heart Sounds”, a 1961 recording of abnormal heart sounds, where a voice describes various sounds being heard referring to one specifically as sounding similar to that of a galloping horse.  The actual sounds of the hearts are near inaudible except for when the keys and guitar previously accompanying the samples fade out and we are left with only the fading sounds of the heart.  The song is simple with the descriptions acting as lyrics that build with musical additions and finally Rapo’s voice entering with melodic “ahhh ahhhh” that acts as the chorus.  The dream-like quality of the song is reminiscent of such songs like Lemon Jelly’s “Space Walk” which puts dreamy, uplifting music to the voice samples from the 1969 lunar landing.

The title track (my personal favorite) closes the album beautifully, fading away as with the dawn of a new day.  Starting out with simple guitar-backed piano over soft sounds of crashing waves, the lovely musical layers have a sense of sadness amidst the hopeful and optimistic notes of moving on.  Rapo’s vocals are at the height of their beauty in the melancholy lyrics, “Close the door, go down the stairs, this is goodbye / Continue straight ahead, you know this street by now / Then greet the park and see the valley at your feet / Embrace the sea to wake the river that’s been sleeping”. 

Not only did this talented duo write the lyrics, arrange the music, play all of the instruments and lend their vocals to this elegantly crafted debut but they did it in a way that should be yet a further reminder of why we should be taking more notice of the Finnish music scene.  And if this is your first introduction, it’s a good place to start.

Burning Hearts

Shelflife Records