12/18/2012 06:52 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Tsuumi Sound System Rocks WOMEX 2012

Tsuumi Sound System tears it up at WOMEX 2012 from Michal Shapiro on Vimeo.

I wasn't going to cover Tsuumi Sound System.

Just the phrase "Sound System" conjures up deejays and a front rapper, and -- although as Jerry Seinfeld would say "not that there's anything wrong with that!" -- it just isn't what I go out of my way to shoot. So I was hanging out in one of the concert venues at the Helexpo in Thessaloniki where this year's WOMEX was held, wondering which room to set up in, when I spotted Philip Page, a Texan-now-Finlander (and manager of Värttinä through their heyday) and asked what the story was. His response? "Oh, you have to go see them -- they are so ready." So here they are, and I agree, they are ready. I cannot imagine them getting any tighter or more exciting. The energy is all there, plus an excellent combination of Finnish fiddle music with a rock steady rhythm section. Their latest CD was produced by Sweden's Roger Talroth of Väsen fame; he of the iron wrists and power chords, and this first tune is dedicated to him. (Haven't heard Väsen yet? It's not too late to get hooked, go listen up!) The song is appropriately called "Grown-up Roger," composed by Esko Järvelä from the album Tsuumi Sound System: Growing Up.

I have as much of an affinity with Nordic music as with Celtic, although I must admit that I find the darker nuances of Nordic music resonate quite pleasantly in my own slavic soul. But here Tsuumi Sound System tempers the primordial two-beat feel they have set up with some bittersweet passages that almost conjure up saudade (that which we think of as the essence of the Portuguese or Brazilian soul) as Finns tend to do... go figure. I hear Tango is huge in Finland too.

For more about the band, visit their website or myspace.