October 23, 2023

A couple of months ago Amorphis guitarist Tomi Koivusaari announced his long-awaited solo project BJØRKØ, which features an array of stellar guest vocals and collaborations. The second single to be released from that body of work is Magenta, featuring Mariska. The debut upcoming album Heartrot is due 1st December 2023 via Svart Records.

One of two songs on the album that are in the Finnish language, it is the softest song on the record in terms of sound but not content – it is a raw, feral love song. Magenta is one of the oldest songs on the album and also the one that started the whole project. “Originally, the piece was a floating ten minute instrumental with a slowly building crescendo towards the end. When Mariska agreed to join and perform vocals, I had to rearrange the song into a more traditional form. I let Mariska freely write the lyrics and the vocal melody.”, comments Koivusaari.

Mariska is one of the best respected female artists in Finland and, performing in her native Finnish language, she is also known as a successful lyric writer for other domestic artists. “Her attitude is genuine and she has style. She fits the atmosphere of the song perfectly, and she’s also one of the best lyricists in the country”, says Koivusaari

The spectacular video accompanying the single is shot and directed by Antti Kuivalainen and Jani Tanskanen.

Heartrot

  1. The Heartroot Rots (Ft. Jeff Walker / Carcass)
  2. Vaka Loka (Ft. Addi Tryggvason / Solstafir)
  3. Whitebone Wind (Ft. Marco Hietala / Nightwish)
  4. Värinvaihtaja (Ft. Ismo Alanko)
  5. Awakening
  6. World as Fire and Hallucination (Ft. Stian Thoresen / Dimmu Borgir)
  7. The Trickster (Ft. Jessi Frey / Velcra)
  8. Hooks in the Sky (Ft. Tomi Joutsen / Amorphis)
  9. Magenta (Ft. Mariska)
  10. Reverberations (Ft. Sakari Kukko)

For years, Koivusaari has been the one of the creative backbones of Amorphis, a band synonymous with innovation in heavy music. Now, with BJØRKØ (“Birch Island” in English), Koivusaari ventures beyond band dynamics to showcase his distinct artistic vision.

The album is far from a solo endeavour in the traditional sense. It features an all-star lineup of vocalists in multiple languages, contributing to an atmosphere that’s rich and multi-layered. The talent of Waltteri Väyrynen (Opeth, ex-ParadiseLost), Lauri Porra (Stratovarius), and Janne Lounatvuori (HidriaSpacefolk) adds a rock-solid foundation to Koivusaari’s artistry.

Unfettered by the structural limitations of a traditional band, Heartrot stands as a testament to Koivusaari’s versatility and depth. “It’s a collection of various songs and points of view,” he says. “I didn’t want a traditional approach to limit my artistic expression.”

Heartrot serves as an emotional panorama, each track capturing a unique sentiment. Koivusaari describes it as “a soundtrack to an imaginary film” replete with a “strong visual connection to nature and an ever-present sense of melancholy.”

15 years ago Amorphis‘ guitarist Tomi Koivusaari began building riffs and songs that he could use on a solo album he planned to release on his 40th birthday. The debut album by his solo project Bjørkø (‘Birch Island’ = Koivusaari) took, however, years to turn into reality. As with many a musician, it wasn’t until the pandemic stopped touring that Koivusaari finally found the time to work on what became the album Heartrot

Heartrot is a personal vision that’s naturally influenced by all the music I have subjected myself to over the years. It is, in a way, a soundtrack to an imaginary film. Musically the album’s guiding themes are a strong visual connection to nature and moods that are rarely happy or positive. Melancholy is always looming in the background”, says Koivusaari, who in the past studied movie sound engineering among other things. 

Even though the album is diverse, according to Koivusaari there are many factors that many of the songs share. The album is built on a strong foundation laid down by the tight band Koivusaari gathered to join him. Waltteri Väyrynen (Opeth, ex-Paradise Lost) plays the drums, Lauri Porra (Stratovarius) Is on bass and Janne Lounatvuori (Hidria Spacefolk) on keyboards. Half of the lyrics were written by Koivusaari‘s old Abhorrence bandmate Jussi “Juice” Ahlroth

“Me and Jussi worked on the themes of the lyrics together, and he turned them skilfully into text: a lot left for the imagination and open to many interpretations. Some of the singers (Mariska, Ismo Alanko, Jessi Frey and Addi Tryggvason) wrote their won lyrics while the rest (Stian Thoresen, Jeff Walker, Petronella Nettermalm, Marko Hietala and Tomi Joutsen) interpret Ahlroth‘s lyrics. The album was produced by my long time friend Nino Laurenne.”


Band Members:
Tomi Koivusaari – guitars, backing vocals, keyboards
Janne Lounatvuori – synths and keyboards
Lauri Porra – bass
Waltteri Väyrynen – drums


BJØRKØ online: