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(74 min, Mellow)
TRACK LIST: 1. Into the New World 8:54 2. Circus & Selangor 16:28 3. Berceuse & Elegie 19:30 4. Haya's Dream 11:06 5. Intro 4:30 6. Never Growing Old 6:13 7. Enigmatic Elements 8:00 All tracks: by Heininen, except 1 & 7: by Niemela / Heininen. Produced by M Bernard & Colossus. LINEUP: Mikko Heininen - keyboards; acoustic guitar; vocals Teemu Niemela - bass guitar; mini-Moog; vocals Raule Vitala - electric guitar Teemu Huunonen - flute Kalle Alto - drums
Prolusion. Finland's GROOVECTOR has existed since 1996 and had two official albums: "Ultramarine" (2000) and "Enigmatic Elements" (2003), both being part of the Mellow Records catalog. "Darklubing at Tavastia" is their first live album. Although it was issued just recently, the recording was made more than three years ago, in January 2002.
Analysis. The album is made up of nine compositions located on seven tracks. Three of them: Berceuse, Elegie and Selangor are from "Ultramarine" (which I haven't heard), and Enigmatic Elements has later become the title track of the band's second studio album. The other five were never released until now, and by the way, they run about 40 minutes. Five out of the seven tracks contain vocals, though almost all of them are largely instrumental. (Thankfully. These guys' English is so heavily accented that it's often incomprehensible what they are singing about.) Overall, I find this material to be nearly on the same level of progressiveness and impressiveness as "Enigmatic Elements". Stylistically, there is much in common between the albums, and the only significant difference between them concerns elements of Prog-Metal, which are completely absent here. The finale of the first track features pronouncedly heavy guitar riffs (done in fourth and fifth with solos of flute and those of mini-Moog), but the overall arrangements are related to the Hard-n-Art style, such as is typical for Jethro Tull's "Aqualung", for instance. The album's primary style, which is a combination of spacey symphonic Art-Rock and quasi Jazz-Fusion, is best of all presented on Into the New World, Berceuse & Elegie and Haya's Dream, the latter of which is an instrumental piece. For the most part, the music is constantly shifting, with the alternation of bombastic arrangements, done in the best traditions of seventies classic Art-Rock, and more atmospheric textures. Each is a brilliant, strikingly original composition, featuring plenty of moments of magic. The last two tracks: Never Growing Old and Enigmatic Elements are much of the same story, even though the band travels the adventurous path less often here. One of the epics, Circus & Selangor, and the remaining instrumental, Intro, aren't notable for particular diversity and are quite peaceful throughout. With distinctive Gilmouresque guitar solos being at the fore in most cases, the second part of the epic sounds not unlike the most romantic stuff of classic Pink Floyd, such as Us & Them from "The Dark Side of the Moon". Thankfully, this is the only derivatively sounding composition on the album.
Conclusion. Overall, "Darklubing at Tavastia" is a very good album and is perhaps a bit more inspired outing than Groovector's latest studio effort, "Enigmatic Elements", though the difference is minimal. This band possesses a lot of talent and is way better than most of the contemporary followers of Neo. To become a really major act, they only should get completely rid of the Pink Floyd influence and abandon singing in English in favor of their native language.
VM: May 16, 2005
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