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(70:50, Musea Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. At the Brink of Madness 2:31 2. The Procession Forms 10:33 3. For the Presence of Those Who Are the Sentinel 13:21 4. The Herald & Their Train 12:29 5. A Passage to the Court Prevails 6:07 6. As a Single Word Sets Forth an Ocean of Souls 25:49 LINEUP: Tuukka Uskali Ц keyboards; vocals Petri Ahola Ц guitars; vocals Janne Rinnet Ц bass Mika Koskela Ц drums Sami Auranen Ц vocals
Prolusion. PPRY, also known as Project, is a Finnish outfit that traces it history back to 1993. Their first EP came out in 2000, using the moniker Project Forest, and 5 years later their full-length debut УName StolenФ was issued by Mellow Records, now with Project as their chosen handle. Comes 2008 and the bandТs second full length production sees the light of day, this time with PPRY as their chosen name and Musea Records as the issuing label.
Analysis. "Raising the Skeletons of Fire by Hand" is quite a mouthful for an album title and one that will make many draw some conclusions as to the contents of this disc. But unless you're familiar with this band from before, I do believe most assumptions as to the contents of this creation due to associations with the album name will err. What the listener will discover on this occasion is an album filled with rather long tracks, all of them given suitably long names, and a slightly schizophrenic musical exploration with one foot inside the symphonic prog category while the other one is firmly placed in the dreamier aspects of space rock, with a few ventures into folk-tinged segments to add some variation. Obviously, keyboards and synths in various guises are highly important aspects of this production. The guitars are frequent providers of sonic textures in the form of acoustic licks, riffs and dreamy soloing, but more often than not the organ and keyboards provide the dominant elements as far as melodies and melodic development go, up to and including a few select instrument emulations. The compositional structures are worth mentioning as well, as the band seems to opt for exploring one stylistic element at a time. Hence the tracks will have clearly defined symphonic passages as well as space rock oriented parts, rarely mixing these two dominant elements of their sound, but they will trace their brief excursions out towards other stylistic variations within one of the two dominating aspects. Although mix and production could have been better, the instrumental passages on this disc are interesting: somewhat simplistic and not really offering anything new, but well planned and performed, with strong moods, atmospheres and melodies. However, the vocals leave a lot to be desired. Thankfully there aren't too many vocal passages in the compositions, but when they do appear the mix of a slightly weak production with weak vocals ends up as truly detrimental to the album in general and the specific song in particular. The one notable exception appears at the very end of the album. After a two minute silent pause on the last track, from about 17 minutes and until the end of the CD, we're treated to an almost disturbingly dark, nightmarish, dreamy segment (or hidden track?) with a grim spoken voice over a richly textured soundscape consisting of synths and piano, the clear highlight of this creation as far as I'm concerned and one intriguing to the point of almost making the rest of the album a worthwhile purchase just to get to listen to this part of it.
Conclusion. "Raising The Skeletons Of Fire By Hand" comes across as a somewhat mixed affair in terms of styles visited and the quality of production as well as of individual passages within the compositions. The instrumental passages are well worth checking out as long as you don't expect any groundbreaking or truly innovative escapades, while the ones containing vocals Ц with one notable exception - come across as distinctly weak. There's plenty of talent here though, and if vintage-oriented art rock with symphonic and space-oriented elements sounds like a good thing Ц in particular if vocals aren't that important to you Ц there's a good chance that you'll find quite a few treats on this release.
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