Since Jääportit has recently participated on Lunar Hypnosis’ ‘Dreams of Winter Under the Scorched Summer Sun’ compilation, I figured it wouldn’t be a bad idea to finally review some of this impressive composers work.
Jääportit is a Finnish dark ambient/neo classical project centered around Tuomas M. Mäkelä and has been active since 1997, although only three releases have seen the light of day thus far. The subject of this review is his second release ‘Kauan koskematon,’ which was released as a cassette back in 1999 on an underground Finnish label called ‘Noitavasara’ and was limited to just 500 copies.
Musically as I’ve already said Jääportit creates very dreamy, mysterious, harmonious, beautiful, soothing, ambient/neo classical like compositions. Even though everything is synthesized, Tuomas has a keen ability to create very elaborate pieces of music on Kauan koskematon. Each piece has the ability to take your mind to its own little world and tells you a story along the way. This release also features some stunning artwork done by Aslak Tolonen from the Finnish band Nest. The artwork depicts a shadowy traveler walking through the snow during a cold Finnish winter, under a dark gloomy sky, and the bright moon shining down on them. The music and the artwork go perfectly together, and as previously stated the music can take you into this dark icy landscape and you can become that traveler as you listen. The highlights are ‘Askeleet valottomuuteen’ with its forebodingly morose feeling and it’s the only song with vocals, ‘Tulensinisen hohto’ is also admirable seeing as it has somewhat of a darkwave influence to it, and ‘Hänen jäätävä katseensa’ is another very tranquil chilly song that makes me wish for winter to arrive. Taken as a whole Kauan koskematon is a very commendable piece of work that’s a must for fans of the genre, but unfortunately a little hard to obtain these days.
8.5 of 10
Written by JJM / Lunar Hypnosis Webzine, August 30, 2005.
Jääportit comes back in 1999 with his debut album “Kauan Koskematon”, which follows after one year the great demo “Halki Lumisen Metsän”. The steps further from this Finnish musician are several and significative. Since from the first listening we realize to be entering a new dimension of the music proposed by this project, even deeper of the astounding one of the previous work. The atmospheres have been transposed to a level that I would dare to define transcendental. The cold and wintry landscapes still appears in front of the dedicated listener’s eyes, but they are like remembrances coming from a past life… everything is transfigured in an ethereal and different view of reality. This feature does not prevent the songs from having a great potential since from the first listening, but at the same time it allows to eternize certain moments to make them live forever in majestic and timeless soundscapes. There are evident improvements also in the compositive style, which is now more careful to the details, and in the quality of sounds.
Variety, even if together with a strong sense of unity, is still a winning feature of this album. The rarefied atmospheres take the listener to a world where human coordinates are lost, in favour of a transfiguration towards purer and more ethereal forms of existence. I insist in a particular way on this point because I think that this is the fundamental feature to understand this record, at least in my opinion. Nevertheless, this does not prevent the pleasing and great melodies, typical of the previous demo, from still being here. As already said, the rough side of these melodies has been limited, but, in a more mature context, the great melodic vein of Jääportit is still present, and gives the album a unique listening pleasure. Proofs of this are represented by the piano of “Unohdetut Lumouksen Unelmat”, by the melody so simple yet so wonderful of “Tulensinisen Hohto”, and by “Hänen Jäätävä Katseensa”, remake of a song from the debut demo. I have to say that I would have reproposed “Yömustaa” or “Sade Mustan Lumen” rather than “Hänen Jäätävä Katseensa”, because they seemed to me to fit better the atmosphere of this album. However, the quality standards remain high, and this is the most important thing. Keeping on talking of the most brilliant songs, maybe “Talvenkaltainen” represents the most fitting summary of the great potential of this album. Atmosphere is the winning feature of this composition: a cold, apocalyptic, definitive atmosphere, also cruel and indifferent. Like a blizzard in an empty and inhuman landscape, a vast interior steppe surrounded by an infinite void, the notes of “Talvenkaltainen” wrap the listener, who is unable to react in front of a sight so delicate yet majestic and relentless. And this is not only a feature of this masterpiece song, but of the whole album. An album which absolutely cannot be ignored by those who are looking for a deep and unique music, carved in the winds that whisper among the dusty rocks of a world without a beginning nor an end. It is rather useless to add that this record is not for everybody: this music requests a mind able to fully embrace these sounds. A deep emotional participation is fundamental to understand this work.
I know that sometimes I could appear unbearable in these neverending compliments, maybe hiding the defects that are present even in the greatest masterpieces, but I do not do it for a flattery attitude: simply, I am deeply emotional involved in a music like this, so I can’t do nothing but celebrate this piece of art. Being detached for a while, I can say that if you love the ambient which has become famous thanks to some metal artists and to the musicians of the Cold Meat Industry label, you also appreciate the masters of the genre like Brian Eno, and you are looking for a deeper musical experience, well… this is the record for you.
rating: 9,5 out of 10
-Valerio / Crypta Nivis Webzine, 8th of January, 2006.
Calm, tranquil and soothing, yet bewitching and somewhat mesmerizing ambient is what have with JAAPORTIT. You know, when I’m listening to this MC, I immediately fancy myself being alone in a small house within the wintry forest; sitting near fireplace, having some whisky, with old, staunch dog lying near the legs of mine. This is not the kind of stuff to chill you, but it’s still extremely atmospheric. In contrast to most contemporary so-called “dark ambient” projects, the individual behind JAAPORTIT contrived to spawn all pro-done creation. He’s really good in creating arrangements, even though all compositions sound quite similar to each other; however, this kind of music is not the one where you have to be diverse. Besides aforesaid, it’s not monotonous at all, as it often happens with young Tolkien-fans eager to create suchlike stuff. Well-produced, coming with a nice looking artwork and layout, this cassette should be yours. At least, this is one of the best non-metal works I’ve heard lately (especially on demo level). Rating: 5 of 6
– Herr Stalhammar
This tape is probably one of the most decent ones I received in lately. This is a one man “band” producing very good ambient material, which I must say I find very hunting and atmospheric. The music is well played, well constructed and really sucks you into its depths. Most tracks are instrumental; there are just some spoken words in the first minutes. My only “complain” here is the lack of different synths and samples used, with some more variations the music could be enriched very easily and give much more feel to the whole concept.
– Solemn webzine
I’m not into this monotonous (for me) ambient style of music a’la Mortis & co. too much, and I can listen to it maximally as a lullaby for the good night, but I must confess this work impressed me indeed. That’s because it’s not so monotonous stuff as the ones of Mortis’ vein. Although the music is created just by the synths and piano, so every song is different and has its own enchanting atmosphere, dark, cold, melancholic, freezing, beautiful… I couldn’t give too much big score for such kind of music, it wouldn’t fit my orthodox black metal soul, but for me, it’s the topical work of ambient. Check out this piece of innocent ambiental beauty!
– -Lord- / Eclipse #5
Probably a project know only by a few at this point but this is likely to change with the quality of this debut tape release (however in which musical scene it becomes popular remains to be seen).
I tend to get the feeling that this project has strong links to the black metal scene given a number of factors. Firstly the cover and logo look very black metal in style and concept (including a silhouetted corpse painted face), secondly the music is very much like those intros or keyboard segments black metal bands compose (even to the point it is written like symphonic black metal without the guitars) and thirdly it is very much in the league of other crossover groups such as Mortiis, Penitent & Cernunnos Woods. In terms of these comparisons it is not intended to give a bad impression of the tape, but rather give a perspective of what to expect. Back to the comment in the opening sentence, surely most black metal fans would find little of complaint as this contains all the necessary dark medieval sound structure, however how much the ambient/ industrial scene embraces this is the real question (given an evident dislike for such projects as Mortiis).
The overall music is flowing, well structured classical / medieval music composed solely on a keyboard. While it does result in a synthetic sound, the production is decent giving a rich, multi layered sound. Usually a central theme is picked and built upon with representations of the various elements of an orchestra, all slighter differing in approach giving a good breath of sound. Compositions are kept at a mid to slow pace with each track meandering through various passages but ultimately arriving back at the main structure. The composer does have a good grasp of the instruments (or be it keyboard) and is above one finger playing. The overall feel is majestic yet mournful rather than being overly bombastic. All in all the tracks presented are of a high quality calibre running for a total length of around 30 minutes, complimented with a pro-printed cover. The overall result is a more than commendable effort for a debut cassette. It is a bit of a shame that the CD format could not have been used (or even CDR) as quite a few people these days can no longer be bothered with tapes.”
– Spectrum zine
Finnish dark ambient … these 3 words have a certain ring to it. Jääportit actually recorded the tracks on this CDr between 1997 and 1998. I found some mp3’s on MP3.com and got into the music instantly, later core member Tuomas M. Mäkelä agreed to send me both the Halki lumisen metsän and Kauan koskematon demos for review. What we have here is very authentic dark ambient, from a man who worships the sorrow of Finland’s brutal winters so much he refuses to record Jääportit tracks during the spring or summer. Based on "dark dreams of emotions and sounds of lone woods, something what have always been, but forgotten by too many" and inspired by "life, nature, winter, everything what hurts" you will find a very rich ebb and flow between cold and warm harmonies in this music.
The earlier (Halki lumisen metsän) material is definitely more on the minimalistic side – comparisons to Mortiis may arise, though you may agree that Jääportit is worlds beyond anything Mortiis ever created beyond his stint with Emperor. The second half of this (Kauan koskematon) is really breathtaking (you won’t often see me use that adjective) in the way it conjures huge, wintry soundscapes and reflections of human suffering at the same time.
Halki lumisen metsän ranges from deep, cloud-like drones(ambient in the Robert Rich context) to almost oppressive militaristic percussion and harmonies. Even during the most primitive moments of the music, it is not difficult to imagine vivid scenery such as an endless row of evergreens crystalized with perpetual snowfall. There is plenty of "nature mysticism" indeed, though some tracks ("Yömustaa") lean towards a more dismal, haunting and personal direction. "Jään kirous" hints at the neo-classical influence that would be more prominent in later recordings.
The second Jääportit demo is easily superior to the first in my opinion. The deep drones are more refined, the neo-classical parts more chilling than ever, and the balance between cold / artificial / warm / organic is a mindbending process. "Unohdetut lumouksen unelmat" gives me chills like few dark ambient recordings have ever done, one of the most epic pieces on either demo. The title track "Kauan koskematon" is another instant favorite.
If you want icy / meloduous / beautiful / cruel dark ambient, there really are few better choices. Visit jaaportit.cjb.net for some MP3 samples, inquire with Tuomas about ordering a CDr. (no timespan available) 99/100.
– Joe of Hellfrost webzine
Finally there it came (to my mail-box, apparently), a decent Finnish (Oulu) dark ambient / darkwave project.. Sure there have been “mortiis-wannabees” and other crap that don’t reserve any mention.. Most of the aforementioned “projects” were/are hastily scraped-up by some adolescents which weren’t skilled(!) enough to create decent black metal or whatsoever.. Real ambient/athmospheric musick is an art form, only true artists can create those sonickal visions from the netherworlds.. But does JP succeed? Read on..
This person ‘Tuomas M. Mäkelä’ who is behind ‘Jääportit’ on solitary basis, which is, I believe, very essential to these kinds of (musickal) workings. Is it a co-incidence that Jääportit manages to draw similar lonely athmosphere as the astonishing Swedish ‘Raison d’etre‘ (his source of inspiration, I guess). Enough with this, let us concentrate on the musick itself :
..which is created with synths, using ‘organs’, ‘pianos’, ‘bass-drums’, flutes and strings (including violins & cellos). Also there are few additional samples which fit quite well. The instrumentation/playing is actually somewhat simple/monotonic, thus they can lose their effect in continous listening. The ambient part (of the musick) comes from the accompanying slowly passing soundscapes. This is where JP really excels, if only the whole project would have been totally ambient. They are more in the background, creating an mystic touch to these sorrowful songs. There are some slight vocals, but they are almost inaudible, not to mention too sharp (sounding).
Since this kind of musick works best as whole (experience), reviewing any single track would not be approapiate. One thing is clear, JP is above average project in it’s own category, but there is always room for improvement.. I am looking forward hearing (and reviewing) his next release, hopefully a CD instead of a cassette!
– Scorpius von Nighraeth / Sub-Fennica Webzine
“This is the first release of the Finnish label Noitavasara. The 8 tracks bring you in the weird world of the atmospheric sounds. Dark and mysterious feelings are expressed only through synth touches. The album gathers several influences like the Puissance’s voice, the peaceful side of Arcana or even some Penitent ideas. The Ensemple is very relaxing and convincing thanks to the ability in the compositions which are far from shit! A Band that could be signed on CMI.”
– Franang #4 ‘zine
8 songs, cassette album
“Jääportit’s Kauan koskematon is dark ambient/synth music, with a great sound. (Might I add it is their second release, and they come from Finland). It consists of a beautiful arrangement of various synth sounds, creating a dark and depressing atmosphere, yet very beautiful. Vocals are rare on the album, but when there are it is a man speaking in a whisper. Jääportit is an out of this world experience, putting you into a coma, and teleporting you into another dimension,where your soul wanders endlessly… fans of Mortiis, and dark wave / ambient / synth music take note, this stuff could really grow on you!”
9 OUT OF 10
– SkullFuck webzine
“You know, I am an expert of this young Finnish synth (or, according to his majesty Metalion, one man and a synth in the forest) band! Once upon a time I have traded their demo-cd with Normendahl, and now he puts a new tape album into my postboks. He even released it himself! Not a guy behind the keyboard, but Norm / Noitavasara! So, I believe he tries to push it hard. Well, I have not received any penny from Norm anyway!! So, expect my opinion.
First recording was between ok and amateurish, with the latter to take more time actually. But some moments were really bright and listenable. Yep, pretty bright as I hear no dark soundscapes in Jääportit music. Sad, melancholic, eerie – yes, dark – no. Kauan Koskematon is actually between an ok and good. Not that really good, but good tape. At least one man has not lost his synth in the forest, and he is not so hopelessly lost too!
Tuomas, to name him correctly, upcomes with a couple of brilliantly arranged compositions, which could easily beat some worse trip on latest Burzum album. Very rare background voice adds a sort of mystique to it, and still does not resemble Mortiis! I wish him tell us something more during the keyboard music course! By the way, one track Hänen jäätävä katseensa is taken from the first demo-cd, yet it holds up the standard of this new album. What I still want to hear more in music like this is darkness. Just take some CMI bands and realise they know how to make it sound frightening, and at the same time innocent. Innocence without knife is too familiar thing Thus I would not advise Jääportit for Metalion and likeminded guys (i.e. no synth without metal attitude), but for synth music trend followers here is a project to take a listen at. No fake children here.”
– Ledo Takas #8 ‘zine
Jatkuvan kiireen, melun ja hälinän keskellä on osattava ottaa myös vähän rennommin. Rentoutumiskeinoja on melkeinpä yhtä monta kuin on rentoutujiakin, yksi tavallisimmista lienee rauhoittavan musiikin kuuntelu. Näinä iltayön tunteina, kun väsymys painaa ja kaikkialla on pelkkää hiljaisuutta, kaivan mielelläni hyllyköstäni Jääporttien kasetin ja uppoudun syvälle unelmiini havahtuen vain silloin kun kasetti napsahtaa loppuunsa.
Jääportit on yhden miehen, Tuomas M. Mäkelän, syntikkaprojekti. Tuomaksen luomat tunnelmateokset ovat rauhallisia ja helvetin leppoisia huminoita joita kuunnellessa sielu lepää ikihorrostaan ja olo on ihmeen rentoutunut. “Kauan koskematon” maalaa sinistä ja kylmää maisemaa paikasta jossa tuulet humisevat hiljaa ja kaikki todellakinon vielä koskematonta. Demo on kuin ajaton matka halki lumisen, kylmyyden peittämän metsän, jonka syvimmistä syövereistä löytyy se ikuinen, jonka hiljaisuus on suorastaan lumoavaa. On vaikeaa pukea sanoiksi vallitsevaa tunnelmaa.
En tiedä minkälaisissa olosuhteissa tämä materiaali on luotu, enkä tiedä mitä Tuomas hakee Jääporttien avulla, mutta henkilökohtaisesti pidän tästä kovasti. Kenties kaikki on vain pelkkää illuusiota. Kuka tietää? “Kauan koskematon”-demo koostuu kahdeksasta osasta, jotka ovat yhtä toistensa kanssa. Instrumentteja todellakaan ei ole, ainoastaan synaa möykytetään ja näin luodaan kaikki musiikki. Ensimmäinen kappale, “Askeleet valottomuuteen” pitää sisällään jonkinverran puhetta, jota nyt ei varsinaisesti voida lauluksi lukea. Ja nyt siellä joka kodin hevanderi-hemmot ajattelevat, että “Paskat! Kyllä minäkin osaan!” Otetaan pikkusiskon halpahalli-syntikat ja painellaan vuorotellen kahta nappia…” No, voihan sitä jokainen yrittää, mutta vielä jos siihen saisi jotain aitoa tunnetta mukaan, niin voisihan sen jo melkein musiikiksi luokitella. Jääportit vain yksinkertaisesti liikkuu eri aaltopituuksilla kuin monet vastaavat artistit.
“Kauan koskematon” -demo löytyy jo yli 400:sta levyhyllystä, miksei myös sinunkin? Jääportit on erinomaista cold-ambientia, joka varmasti viehättää avarakatseisia musiikin ystäviä. Mieluumminhan tätä kuuntelisi CD:ltä ja kunnon soundeilla, ehkäpä sitten seuraavalla kerralla. Unohda Mortiis, unohda Burzum ja hanki “Kauan koskematon” etkä ole enään kauaa koskematon… ööö… mutta kuuntele biisejä Jääporttien webbisivuilta ennen kuin ostat. Vältyt mahdollisilta ikäviltä yllätyksiltä..
– Joni Juutilainen
Yhden miehen syntsabändi. Musiikki on maalailevaa, hiukan soundtrackin omaista instrumentaalikamaa, joka sopisi johonkin sci-fi filmiin. Pelkästään kuunneltuna tämä on pienenä annoksena rentouttavaa, isompana pitkästyttävää. Biisit huolella tehtyä ja niissä on ideaa, miltään standardilta tusinapohjalta niitä ei ole tehty. Vaikka usein näihin laulua kaipaankin, niin tämä tekee poikkeuksen tässäkin suhteessa. Nousee kärjen tuntumaan.
– Jukka Junttila, Soundi 07/00