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whatmusic.com presents ‘Talk Less Listen More’, live instrumentation, solid beats, authentic nu-soul.
Liner notes by Gilles Peterson: “Keep an eye on them, they're going places!”

Check the 30 second clips from the album...

The whatmusic.com interview...

Quintessential listening!

I’ve always wondered what it was about Finland, it’s the smallest country in Scandinavia but it has a terrific history of folk music. Even going back to my first days as a jazz DJ, my favourite record was an album by Olli Ahvenlahti called ‘The Poet’. I remember spending a lot of money back then on Finnish music and ever since I’ve always had a soft spot for anything Finnish. The first job I ever had where I got paid (I did a lot of pirate radio before that) was with John Peel on Radio Mafia (Finland). I was only 20 years old and it told me a lot about the interest in cutting edge music that there was coming out in Finland, we were constantly searching for stuff.

Now, in the last few years, apart from the club scene being strong there’s also been a movement making some great soul music and electronic jazz music fronted by people like Jimi Tenor and Nuspirit Helsinki; and some space/folk/progressive music from the likes of Kuusumun Profeetta (‘Moon Fog Prophet’), a wonderful band from Pori. Between them they are reinvigorating Finland’s reputation for producing great cutting edge sounds. The latest of these, Quintessence, first surprised me with their incredibly fine production and song writing ability, and I have been playing demos from them for ages. This is their first release in the UK of their album which has already been topping the charts in their native Finland, and it’s great to see that they’ve stuck together and that all those great demos have finally come to fruition on this album.

The first track from the band that I heard (and played on my show) was the “White Light” EP released during the band’s short fling with Dorado records in late 2000. They had started off as a jazzy drum ‘n bass trio (DJ/Programmer Jouni "DharmaOne" Helminen, guitarist Aki Haarala and vocalist Emma Salokoski), but quickly moved into a slower more hip-hop groove in the vein of Erykah Badu, Jill Scott and Amel Larrieux. By the time they recorded “White Light”, Emma had chosen the name “Quintessence” and they had added trumpet player Jukka Eskola, bassist Heikki Laine, and keyboard player Tuomo Prättälä to the team.

Releasing through a hip London label was seen as a cool thing and got the attention of both the Finnish music press and a lot of gigs. On the first gig there was an open mic session, where rapper Tommy "Father Metro" Lindgren unexpectedly jumped on stage and a new (guest) band member was born! They also moved to live drumming, initially guest appearances from the great Teppo Mäkynen a/k/a Teddy Rok (whose own album Universal Four is also out on Whatmusic.com), and eventually the full time Mikko Kaakkuriniemi (a drummer from northern Finland with a speedmetal background).

The downside of using a hip London label, as sometimes happens, was the label didn't answer the phone or print any records. Martti Heikkinen, the savvy owner of Finnish indie label, Texicalli Records, saw the opportunity and signed them immediately. The band at this stage was going through its second metamorphosis, from nu jazz to nu soul. Dharma headed off in the direction of broken beats, leaving the band to create a sound based more on live players, he liked the band’s new organic sound so much he didn’t feel he was needed any more, although some of his work survives, for example in “1st impressions’” shaker loop. Verneri Pohjola took over the trumpet role from Jukka Eskola who had been on loan from Nuspirit Helsinki and Jimi Tenor. Verneri’s unique sound has become an essential part of the group.

This album features new liveband versions of the four tracks that appeared on the White Light EP, as well as some new songs developed out of jamming sessions including ‘Raindrops’ and my personal favourite: ‘Ballad in 6/8’. The jamming sessions also produced the three funkier tracks that don’t appear on the LP: ‘<<(Cyclic Skit)’, ‘Sparkle’ and the hidden track ‘Funky Ass Guitar’. Keyboard player Tuomo Prättälä quotes their influences as diverse as D'Angelo, Badu, Jill Scott, Common, The Roots, Jaguar Wright, Bilal, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Prince, Burt Bacharach, A.C.Jobim, P-Funk, Joni Mitchell, Kate Bush, Tori Amos, Herbie Hancock, Miles Davis.

Quintessence have become a heavily requested favourite on my World Wide show, which you can listen to online. Quintessence are a highly talented and original group of musicians, keep an eye on them, they're going places.

Gilles Peterson, London

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