The new single from Finnish outfit HiSQ, an acronym for Hi Status Qualified, is a collaboration with ex-Nightwish member Marko Hietala entitled “Flesh and Blood”. The expansive vision of the HiSQ musical collective with members “out front” and behind the scenes doesn’t mean we’re treated to grandiose songwriting. Far from it. “Flesh and Blood” is a quiet song, meditative without ever sounding despairing, and reminds listeners that even the saddest songs are ultimately a sign of hope and an affirmation of life’s enduring value.
Drafting Hietala into the project for this song is the key to its success. His authoritative yet sensitive reading of the song’s lyrical content never betrays for even a second that he didn’t pen the song himself. Instead, Hietala does what all great singers do; he burrows under the skin of this particular composition and connects with its message. It’s a message born out of no small degree of personal turmoil and Hietala reflects that in his vocal but, in the end, what you will remember is how deep his voice reaches within listeners.
The sparse musical accompaniment suits the emotional tone of the song. Pianist Mikko Mäkinen’s playing provides constant accompaniment to Hietala along the way and the melodic counterpoint enhances the song’s impact. It is dramatic without ever sounding heavy-handed; this is no small thing. Guitarist Peter Engberg’s acoustic playing isn’t omnipresent, he’s serving the song first and foremost rather than angling for the spotlight, but his lyrical flourishes elevate the performance several notches.
Erkki Vuokila’s lyrics are poignant and tailored to suit the song’s musical landscape. Some of the lines are even unexpected – meaning that veteran music listeners will perhaps anticipate certain turns in the lyric and Vuokila upends your expectations each time. It never overshadows the song’s musical content, however; this isn’t poetry set to music. This is a part of an overall seamless package with one element benefitting another.
The arrangement is another part of its success. Mäkinen’s final touches added to the arrangement are likely the last ingredient sending it into another realm. Many listeners will hear as elegant, expertly laid out, but no one will deny that it breathes as well and there’s an airiness in its development that allows performers room to imagine and create. It’s a likely outgrowth of HiSQ’s collaborative nature and a blessed one.
You will have difficulty readily pointing to another modern act working in this way. The expanded “lineup” works, however, because each member occupies roles suited to their specific strengths and everyone is on the same page. Setups like this have the potential to go on for years because they are in tune with feeding the project’s creative needs rather than massaging individual egos.
“Flesh and Blood” isn’t self-indulgent or a wearisome vanity trip. It’s a fully fleshed out and considered musical gem that touches on eternal human emotions without sentimentality or melodrama. Hi Status Qualified has achieved something special working with former Nightwish member Marko Hietala and let’s hope they revisit this collaboration again at some point.
The music of HISQ has been heard all over the world in partnership with the radio plugging services offered by Musik and Film Radio Promotions Division. Learn more https://musikandfilm.com
Donate to IndiePulse Music Magazine’s Academic and Music Education Scholarship Program HeartBeat4Kids
IndiePulse Music Magazine creates Scholarships to help Youth In Need of assistance to complete their educational goals and stay in school.