Nov 17

My Pop Year: MARA BALLS – “Elävä kivi”

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Not the last Finnophone musician I’ll be writing about, Mara Balls is the rock-name of musician and artist Maria Mattila, who’s done stints in a few Finnish hard rock bands and also ran the Yellow House, an underground venue and cultural space in Tampere. As Mara Balls, she makes what I guess would be stoner and desert rock, except I don’t really listen to stoner and desert rock, so I have to find my own reference points: the psychedelic paganism of Julian Cope, maybe. Or more accurately, something Julian Cope would get very excited about.

All I really have is the clues I’m given. “Elävä kivi” is ten minutes long, it means “living rock”, it’s the title track from an LP on whose sleeve a tiny, naked figure stands in communion with a craggy, elemental Nordic landscape. So we’re talking rock as in igneous, and the music bears that out. It’s a slow, meditative song whose repetitive, hypnotic guitar flows sound like some personal ritual, a merging with these ancient stones. That’s compounded by Mattila’s voice, which is thoroughly un-rock: quiet, breathy and intense. There’s always a concern when I strike a personal connection with a track in a genre that’s foreign to me that I’m latching onto something entirely generic, but I dunno – whatever its derivations, “Elävä kivi” is my most satisfying psych track this year.


  1. 1
    Ricardo Lane on 24 Nov 2017 #

    This is one of the best articles I have come across. Keep up the good work.

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