The Finnish folk metal band Korpiklaani came out with the new single “Shai Shai” featuring Nytt Land’s Natalya Pahlenko on June 12, 2020 on the Nuclear Blast label. “Shai Shai” is a Siberian Shamanic Folk version of the band’s 2005 song “Beer Beer” from their Voice of Wilderness album released on the Napalm Records label. Since 2005, the band has released several versions of the “Beer Beer” in various languages and cultural influences.
This version of the song “Shai Shai” is the name of a harsh Siberian beer that tastes like “Taiga and salty steppes” per Nytt Land’s Natalya Pahlenko. Korpiklaani describes Nytt Land as a Shamanic folk duo who supported Korpiklaani when they first played in Omsk, Russia, adding “It was on those rare performances when all of us came out to watch them, it was that powerful. We soon became friends, with both Jonne and Tuomas having contributed on different tracks on their new album. Their version, “Shai Shai” is one of our favorites as it is pure shamanic folk from Siberia. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do.”
“Shai Shai” is a textually rich song that utilizes lead vocals over traditional Siberian throat singing accompanied by several musical tone colors such as the jouhikko, flute, big frame drum and other percussion instruments. The intro begins with a Celtic-like flute playing in staccato followed by the Jouhikko making a dynamic crescendo start. The verses start abruptly with the lead vocals sounding chant-like over Siberian throat singing accompanied by percussion, with the original flute melody up an octave or two. Later in the verse, the lead vocals and flutes stop while the Siberian throat singing and jouhikko take turns with short melodic phrases. The chorus is catchy with the lead vocals reentering with what sounds like a Celtic-style drinking song over a percussion four on the floor pattern and intermittent Siberian throat singing and flute accentuation. The outro ends with the lead vocal and throat singing taking turns going back and forth repetitively while the lead vocal gradually morphs and unifies with the Siberian throat singing.
The origins of Korpiklaani began back in the mid ‘90s with an acoustic duo called Shamaani Duo. Jonne Jarvela, the Duo’s leader, went to live with the Sami people. The Samis are an indigenous people living in Sapmi, which encompasses a significant part of northern Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. As such, the band’s music is heavily influenced by the Sami’s traditional folk singing call “yoiking.”
Jarvela later formed a heavy metal band called Shaman which was a blend of traditional Sami yoiking and heavy metal. After finishing three albums, the band had gotten word that the name Shaman had already been used by another band, so they changed their name to Korpiklaani. The name Korpiklaani means “Backwoods Clan” in the Finnish language.