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(38:25 / 'Kosmos')
TRACK LIST: 1. Polku I 1:20 2. Vieras Kieli 6:20 3. Kesa 3:23 4. Omini'i Dakakos 8:04 5. Lahja Vai Kirous 4:07 6. Eksyin 4:23 7. Ouija 4:19 8. Nuoruus 4:21 9. Polku II 1:52 LINEUP: Aapo Helenius - guitars; congas Ismo Virta - organ, piano, Mellotron Kimmo Lahteenmaki - drums, keyboards Kari Vainionpaa - guitars, bass Paivi Kylmanen - vocals, etc Olli Valtonen - theremin With: Jukka Aaltonen - violin Paulina Isomaki - bassoon, recorders
Prolusion. "Polku" is the second CD-R album by Finnish ensemble KOSMOS, following "Tarinoita Voimasta" from two years ago. Additionally, each of the recordings is also available on LP.
Analysis. There are no instrumentals among the nine tracks here, but while all lyrics are in the group's native language, the booklet includes an insert with English translations. In the supporting material Kosmos describe their style as progressive Folk Rock rooted in the '70, laying specific emphasis on the instruments they use, all of which I find to be somewhat misleading. Their music is for the most part only prog-tinged (proto-progressive at best), the rock component being either indistinct or absent at all. As you can see above, the number of instruments listed is really huge, and I assure you all of them are deployed on the recording. However none of the songs features all of them, besides which it happens rarely that more than three instruments are soloing simultaneously. Nonetheless, while I'd been certainly happier if the ensemble had used their arsenal both more wider and progressively, I must admit I am charmed with the entire album, particularly enjoying the core tracks, 4 to 7, though beauty is part of all the songs without exception, in many ways thanks to (female vocalist) Paivi Kylmanen whose singing is already wonderful in itself. The album's boundary tracks, Polku-I and Polku-II, are very similar to each other, both drawing a picture of a quiet pre-Christian village with a woman crooning a simple folk song to the accompaniment of two or three acoustic instruments, as she also does on Vieras Kieli which though, while being more than thrice as long as any of the parts of the title number, is made up of only three recurring thematic storylines. Having a semi-pagan semi-medieval feeling, Kesa and Nuoruus are both pastoral in mood also, but these involve relatively many instruments, electric ones and the rhythm section included, so their sonic palette is much more saturated and is probably equally rich in folk, chamber and vintage prog-rock colorations. Nevertheless, as is already mentioned above, it is the four songs located in the middle of the album that make a truly deep impression on me. Unlike the previously described ones, all those are emotionally full of drama, but what's most important is that each is touched by the wing of magic, Lahja Vai Kirous included, even though there are only acoustic guitar and vocals in that piece's arrangement. The other three, Omini'i Dakakos, Eksyin and Ouija, all stand out for their lush mellotron patterns, which further intensify their pronounced gothic aura, the first of these being in places strongly reminiscent of the instrumental intro to Anglagard's "Epilog", though otherwise I wasn't reminded of anyone else when listening to this disc.
Conclusion. Despite the simplicity of most of the tracks here, "Polku" has an effect on me like a gulp of fresh mountain air after a long period of breathing urban smog, since this is one of the most original albums I've heard this year. Generally, this beautiful, living, vastly acoustic music should be a joy for many, meaning all open-minded prog-heads or, to be more precise, excluding probably only those exclusively into Neo, as it is free of any 'trademark' peculiarities of that style.
VM: Septemb 1, 2007
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