Music Review: “Dobbelis,” Máddji

Since I love music almost as much as I love books and writing, I’ve decided to do another music review. This time I’m writing about Dobbelis (Beyond), the first release by Norwegian Sami singer Máddji (full name Ánne Máddji Heatta).

Máddji and her music come from Guovdageaidnu (also called Kautokeino), a town in northern Norway. Máddji is a Sami—the indigenous people group of this arctic area. All of the songs on Dobbelis are in her native language of Northern Sami.

Musically, the influences of other famous Sami singers like Mari Boine and Ulla Pirttijärvi can be heard; but Máddji’s songs are not a copy of any of them. She brings a unique amalgam of new age, tribal, and even a hint of jazz to the world of Sami folk and rock music.

Songs like “Cihkosis” (Hidden) and “Guhkki” (Far) have the hypnotic quality of the spoken word to accompany the singing. Equally hypnotic is “Iđitguovssu” (Dawn Light)—Máddji’s clear, breathy voice floats through this trance-like song, punctuated by distant and haunting percussion.

For those who prefer songs with more energy, there’s “Idjarávga” (Night Creature) and “Stállu.” The title song “Dobbelis” (Beyond), while also upbeat, still has Máddji’s voice wandering through like an ethereal wind from her homeland.

Sami yoik—a traditional wordless chanting—dominates much of the album, especially evident in songs like “Báru Luohti” (Yoik of the Waves) and “Ovllá Niillas.”

“Idjarávga” gives Máddji an opportunity to show another aspect of Sami yoik—the mimicking of animal sounds. The imitation of a wolf howling is unmistakable , threading in and out through the background of the song.

I’ve used a lot of tracks from this album as inspiration/mood music for my writing, and I look forward to hearing more from Máddji in the future.

I would highly recommend this album to anyone who is fan of Mari Boine or similar music. And if you haven’t even heard of any Sami musicians but are looking for something new, then Dobbelis might just be the thing for you. Give it a listen!

Máddji’s site: www.myspace.com/maddji

Máddji – “Guhkki”

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