"Joulupukki is a stunning electronic artwork by Xambuca, which is the moniker for American multimedia artist Chandra Shukla. Inspired by northern indigenous peoples, Xambuca is in the process of creating a trilogy dedicated to and stimulated by these unique cultures and geographies. The 2014 release Kamuy (Erototox) was inspired by the Ainu people of northern Japan, Sakhalin Island, and the Kuril Islands in the northern Pacific. Joulupukkiis about the Saami people living at the top of the Fenno-Scandinavian peninsula. A third release, dedicated to the Inuit people of the Arctic regions, will complete the trilogy.
Joulupukki has thirteen pieces of varying length, for a total of 85 exhilarating minutes. Xambuca employs a blend of electronics, sine-waves, field recordings, drones, effected beats, textures, patterns, sequences, melodies, and noise throughout, creating a distinct soundscape that's always compelling. Infused throughout these modern musics is the spirit and sacred geography of the Saami people, whose for countless years have herded reindeer among the vast snow-covered lands of northern Europe. Elements of Saami music can be gleaned here and there, but Xambuca creates more of a mood than a direct usage. He builds an aural geography that successfully combines modern technology with ancient spirits.
Highlights include "Varra," a shimmer of sounds that flex and drone. It's an otherworldly song, perhaps the singing of the Northern Lights, the phantasmagorical visual fireworks put on by Nature every winter. "Lipeakala" (which means "lutefish") has a deep mysterious echoing, like moving icebergs, with a joyful bouncing beat laid on top. The tune ends with a noise reminiscent of the wind as it blows on a cold, deceptively empty landscape. "Boazu" (which means "reindeer") has beautiful chimes and resonances, complemented by some funky electronic bouncing. And "Bivdu" is downright danceable, with powerful pulsing beats as well as wispy windy sounds. The piece unfolds in a dreamy dance, a call to faraway lands and wide white horizons. According to the label's notes, the incorporation of "obscure titles in other languages is part of Xambuca's pursuit of educating people about different cultures and languages, in an overall attempt of defying borders, incorporating cultures, and emphasizing people of all nations, races, and ethnicities." This honorable aspiration is matched by equally fine music, making Joulupukki — and indeed Xambuca's entire trilogy — a remarkable project that satisfies on many levels." - Florence Wetzel