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Brave and ancient. He calls in tones of thunder. Mana raised me from the coffin. Iron brings me to the dark lands. Water brought me to Manala. Fire knows my name. Still unharmed by pain or sickness, Still untouched by Death's dark angel. Help me cross the river oh death-land hostess. So that I might know the wisdom of Manala. 1. To the kingdom of Tuoni, There to learn the secret 2. There to find the ancient wisdom, Through the ever-rising woodlands, 3. Through the junipers and brambles, To Tuoni's islands. 4. And the Manala fields He Calls aloud in tones of thunder. Adapted from the Kalevala runo 17
True Finders 08:12


Manala is the metaphysical realm of the Finnish underworld referenced throughout Dr. Elias Lönnrot’s collection of traditional oral songs(runot) published as poetry in the Kalevala. It is both a metaphor and reflection of a world view and cosmic order that inspires an inherent feeling of mystery throughout the texts of this tradition. It is a place where knowledge and song successfully emerge from dark waters to aid in the world of the living.

This is the second iteration in a series which began in 2014 with the Otherworld Cycle (Edgetone Records EDT4161) as a cultural research project into Romus’ Finnish heritage. Manala is a joint musical project built upon a thematic framework featuring compositions by Rent Romus and Heikki Koskinen using elements of Finnish pentameter rhythmic folk music intertwined with melodic themes as well as graphic and improvisational components expressed in American Jazz. In addition to Finnish mythology Romus expanded his research related to lore connected through the Uralic cultural language chain from the Baltic shores of the Livonian Coast the to the Northeast Arctic of Siberia and the Northern Sápmi (Sami).

"From start to finish Manala lives up to its genesis as programmatic expression that also showcases top-flight playing. With “Journey to Manala” and elsewhere on the disc though, the composition and arrangements prove that knowledge of the folk tales on which the program is based isn’t needed for full appreciation."
- Ken Waxman, Jazzword

"The abundant music played in "Manala" is not only the personal roots of Romus and Koskinen, but a journey that traces the primitive memory of the birth of all humanity. That is the true pleasure of visiting the underworld of music." - Takeshi Goda Takeda, JazzTokyo

"...strikingly vivid, deeply textured music that evokes stark landscapes and heroic deeds...the music seems to emerge right out of the Finnish soil."
- Andrew Gilbert, San Francisco Classical Voice

"The journey to Manala turned out to be not any random knocking on the gates of Tuonela (Underworld), but more of a journey into the depths of the mind, somewhere very deep at the bottom of the soul, and down to the quintessential roots." - Juri Ojala, Karelian Cultural News, Joensuu Finland


released April 28, 2020

Rent Romus - alto & soprano saxophones, flutes, kantele, bells
Heikki "Mike" Koskinen - e-trumpet, tenor recorder, kantele
Joshua Marshall - tenor & soprano saxophones, flute
Gabby Fluke-Mogul - violin
Tom Weeks - baritone & alto saxophones
David Samas - voice, han, prepared frame drum, song stones, cocoa pod, bells, waterphone, animal calls, Aztec death whistle, water
Cheryl E. Leonard - Spiny, Baby Driftwood Pipe Organ
Limpet Shell Spine, bowl of sand, stone slabs, clam shells mussel shells, mobiles: (driftwood, obsidian needles, petrified wood, crab claws, shells) feathers, fish vertebrae, Japanese bowl gongs
Mark Clifford - vibraphone
Safa Shokrai - double bass
Max Judelson - double bass
Timothy Orr - drums, percussion

This recording made possible through the Musical Grant Program, which is administered by InterMusic SF, and supported by the Clarence E. Heller Charitable Foundation, the Hewlett Foundation, and San Francisco Grants for the Arts.

Recorded, mixed, mastered by John Finkbeiner
Oct. 8-9, 2019 at New, Improved Recording Oakland CA

Deep gratitude and thanks in facilitating the development of Manala: The members of Life’s Blood Ensemble, The Berkeley Finnish Heritage Society, Finlandia Foundation National,
Suomi-Seura-ry, InterMusic SF, Outsound Presents, Luggage Store Gallery, Karl Evangelista & Ryan Pate, The Monday Makeout Series, Markku Salo, Mikko Innanen, Heikki Laitinen, Eero Tikkanen, Teppo Hauta-aho, Markku Rinta-Pollari, Sakari Puhakka, Helsinki Jazz ry, Jari Hytti, Jazzkerho-76, Matti Makkonen, Olavin Jazz Ry, Vihreä Talo, Digelius Music, Agnes and Joppe Auersalo

Art: Wallet front cover, booklet cover art by Charles Smith Booklet page 8 art graphic score Journey to Manala part I by Rent Romus
Photos: (wallet panels 2-4) Turku Merimasku Finland 2017 by Rent Romus (Inside booklet page 2-3, top left, bottom right, center, left) Berkeley Finnish Hall May 25-26, 2019 by Peter B Kaars
(Inside booklet page 3 top right) Luggage Store Gallery San Francisco Aug 15, 2019 by CatSynth TV


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Edgetone Records San Francisco, California

Edgetone Records is place for new music crossing the genre boundaries. Founded by musician/producer, Rent Romus, the label took shape in 1991. After being on a long hiatus Rent re-opened Edgetone in January 2000 and expanded it to support D.I.Y. (do it yourself) artists looking for a ground base and community label identity. ... more

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