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(54:31, 'Positive Wave')
TRACK LIST: 1. Helmi 5:52 2. Huominen Ei Lopu Koskaan 6:01 3. Utuinen 4:10 4. Sumuista Mets?? 3:57 5. Siniset Laineet 5:47 6. Valkoinen Huone 4:07 7. Kauan 5:11 8. Paiva Kerrallaan 4:31 9. Elama 5:09 10. Yli Niittyjen 5:18 11. Viimeista Iltaa 4:26 LINEUP: Jani Haggblom – keyboards; vocals Susan Karttunen – vocals Pekka Kalliosuo – guitars Ayhan Akgez – bass Henri Tuomi – drums Henri Onodera – percussion Sini Palokangas – saxophone; vibes; violin
Prolusion. The Finnish ensemble POSITIVE WAVE has been around in one form or another since 1998, and the initial formative trio has expanded to become a 7 member band as the years have gone by. And while a handful or so of EPs have been crafted by the band since its inception, a full-length effort didn't come to be until 2010, when the band self-released this self-titled production in the summer.
Analysis. Different bands have different approaches to the music they craft and the ideas they want to fulfill. Some artists are keen to showcase their technical abilities; others want to document compositional skills or a deft hand at arrangements. Being creative and innovative is often a key goal too, in particular among artists flirting with or dedicating themselves to exploring the expansive realm known as progressive rock. Positive Wave follows a somewhat uncommon philosophy: they regard music as an art that should be a spiritually uplifting and liberating experience, and their aim is to create original music with their own distinct sound and identity incorporating this philosophy. My main conclusion after spending some time getting familiar with this production is that it probably should be sorted under the jazz-rock moniker. Most compositions appear to have something of a foundation within rock music, but as one or more jazz-oriented or jazz inspired elements seem to be a part of the proceedings rather constantly, I'd think that the jazz rock moniker applies quite nicely. But fusion will not apply on this occasion, as at least in my mind music to be described in that manner warrants a much stronger emphasis on a blend of styles of more equal proportions. The musical expression Positive Wave opts for is one that is natural and logical for a band sporting that name. Light, melodic, positive and uplifting atmospheres are crafted and provided with ease, with darker moods only briefly appearing on a select few occasions, most notably on the instrumental Yli Niittyjen. Elsewhere the strongest negative vibe one might get is melancholy, and at that only a touch of it, mostly making an appearance due to the rather distinctly 70's oriented expression explored by this act. Circulating instrumental motifs are cornerstones of their repertoire, with the piano and guitar taking turns in providing that particular foundation in the compositions, and with the former most often catering for that particular aspect. Gentle guitar licks, at times with slight psychedelic touches, harmonize quite nicely with the keys, and occasionally a dampened organ motif will strengthen the harmonic interplay. The rhythms department adds a few neat details, with percussionist Onodera at times adding flavors reminding ever so slightly of Santana's Latin-tinged endeavors. In the case of Positive Wave this results in light and often gentle, laidback excursions rather than richly layered and complex creations, with brief energetic runs as a nice and nifty effect often utilized to add impact. The saxophone appears to be the instrument of choice to add further details to the instrumental parts, usually staying on until the end of the song after its introduction. Occasionally Palokangas and the band opt for the violin to enrich the proceedings instead, adding a slight folk-oriented tinge on those occasions. Soaring on top of the positively laden instrumental arrangements, we find the voice of Susan Karttunen, whose powerful yet controlled delivery gets to dominate this disc. Those who know their Finnish will have plenty of lyrics to enjoy, and as such this whole album will most likely deserve a description as mainstream oriented, as the vocals are at least as important as any instrumental details, and all songs, apart from the aforementioned instrumental, feature extensive vocal passages.
Conclusion. The positive vibes and light tones of Positive Wave will be something of an acquired taste I imagine. Many will probably find the material to be nice and pleasing without ever quite managing to become enthralling – as I did. I suspect that those fond of 70's-tinged jazz rock of the kind that aimed to reach a broader audience will find this disc most interesting, and I wouldn't be surprised if I learned that fans of later bands like Mezzoforte found Positive Wave to be a really intriguing band an album either. A good effort in general, and one likely to attract a good sized audience also outside of the progressive rock universe.
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