MÄKKELÄ & ORKESTERI - Means Nothing In Hitchin

Mäkkelä & Orkesteri - Means Nothing In Hitchin

12 songs
47:08 minutes
***** ***


Martti Mäkkelä has made himself a reputation in underground circles as a member of the meanwhile disbanded Miracle G(y)rlz and the Trash Lounge. His newest project is simply called Mäkkelä & Orkesteri and show him once again from his sad and melancholic side that truly gets under your skin. His orchestra consists exclusively of female musicians in charge of vocals, drums and accordion, while the maestro does vocals, guitar and harmonica.

It had become rather quiet about Martti Mäkkelä whose last sign of life was the EP Penguin from 2005. The new album starts with two very touching pieces that prove the band leader’s vocal qualities. Things speed a little up with My Northern Soul which successfully combines indie pop with Americana. No matter if darker or more upbeat, the lo-fi component always plays an important role. Especially the quiet tracks come with very sparse instrumentation. Sometimes this is sufficient, as on Simple Birdsong, but other times it doesn’t work so well, as is the case on The Chosen Ones. Highlights consist of the retro pop flavoured Saturday Song and the gloomy soon-to-be classic Christopher Walken, which also comes with a priceless title. The album ends with a cover version by a Marko Haavisto song, showing the orchestra from its most folk inspired side. Volcano God has been penned by Canadian Geoff Berner who is on the same label. His contribution is unfortunately too mellow for my taste.

All in all, Means Nothing In Hitchin is an ideal soundtrack for balanced and stress free days. Hectic people will find the music too unspectacular, but those who invest enough time will discover occasional fascinating moments. It would have been strange if Mr Mäkkelä had disappointed.

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