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(37:46, ‘Pretty Little Hairdo’)
TRACK LIST: 1. Submarina 5:12 2. If 3:20 3. Step Away 4:30 4. The Fool 6:24 5. Where in the Outside in 3:19 6. Haven 4:49 7. Rhubarbed Wire 6:17 8. Strangers 3:46 LINEUP: Eeverti Keittunen – guitars; vocals Ari Hinkanen – guitars; vocals Pekka Petarinen – bass Daniel Porschen – drums; b/v Charlotta Falenius – violin, viola; b/v
Prolusion. CIRCUSFOLK is a young band from Finland presenting their first album “Making Faces”. Instant (unintentional!) association: “circus folk” plus “making faces” is equal to “clowns”.
Analysis. This offering seems to have an apt title indeed – at least in some ways as it comes across as if those behind it were indeed making faces at those to whom it is destined according to the press kit, where it is heralded as a progressive rock creation. Upon the first spin it may seem that the music almost wholly belongs to the Porcupine Tree / Tool / Radiohead ‘school’ of contemporary mainstream Prog, whereas in fact there are only elements of the style to be found and those elements only on four compositions. Much of the recording’s basic structures refer directly to so-called Alternative, two of its eight tracks, If and Haven, falling entirely into this idiom, both being vocal-heavy and repetitive alike. And if the last of these at least alternates atmospheric, seemingly fragile, arrangements with somewhat harder moves, being additionally ornamented with violin passages in places, the former is basically monothematic and so is overtly straightforward, no matter that the musicians succeed in avoiding the square, 4/4, measure, throughout. Being a kind of free-will ignoramus in Alternative, I can’t provide you, readers, with any reference points as I really have no idea whether there are any influences in the implied, predominant, part of this creation. The outfit manages without a keyboardist, but then there are two guitar players, Eeverti Keittunen and Ari Hinkanen, both handling lead vocals in addition and generally dominating in the arrangements everywhere on the recording. The standout compositions, Step Away, Where in the Outside in and The Fool, all portray the men as skilled instrumentalists, providing strong guitar riffs as well as flowery soloing patterns. Within the tracks’ vocal sections, however, their singing actually overshadows their playing, and then the music borders on the same unpretentious Alternative that typifies the two pieces described first. What these three are really notable for are their instrumental segments which are in most cases filled with fairly complex, edgy, electrified arrangements suggesting a cross between Tool and late Porcupine Tree, i.e. a modified, speeded up, progressive Doom Metal (whose godfathers are Black Sabbath, for sure). Two more tracks, Rhubarbed Wire and Strangers, reveal a similar, effective, maneuver, but only once each, briefly in both cases, the rest of the first of these displaying the same approach as the most simplistic piece, If, does throughout, while the latter, closing, piece is overall a mellow ballad that doesn’t change its initial pace even when changing its structural aspect. By the way, all that alternative circus begins with Submarina: this five-minute ‘opus’ only made up of (quite menacingly) gurgling sounds which make me imagine a submarine emerging on the surface before the amazed audience, preceding the show. Take note of the length of the entire CD: it barely requires the demands of a full-length album even without that makeweight which, moreover, is quite heavy in itself. Finally, the booklet hints that violinist Charlotta Falenius is a very significant, if not a primary, member of the band, whilst her contribution to the music is more or less notable only on The Fool and Haven, otherwise bearing mostly an accidental character, besides which she is altogether absent on a couple of tracks, at least.
Conclusion. Taken as it is, as a prog-tinged alternative rock creation, this EP succeeds as competent and well-performed musical material within its circumscribed limits. However, it will hardly have a strong appeal outside the implied circle. Those who clearly realize they’re progressive rock lovers should look elsewhere, to put it in a generalized way.
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