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Tuvalu - 2010 - "Tuvalu"

(58:00, ‘Kool Thing’)

TRACK LIST:                   

1.	Tulevien Aikojen Luurangot 3:56
2.	Parahin Nikola 5:02
3.	Unnamed 3:05
4.	Pimeys on Ystava 12:59
5.	Tulvien Jalkeen 4:24
6.	Fantasmagoria 10:18
7.	Valkoinen Sumu Nousee 5:24
8.	Pakenevan Veden Voima 8:32


Annina Antinranta – vocals 
Antti Harmainen – guitars 
Jussi Matikainen – drums 
Jussi Oskari – bass 

Prolusion. The Finnish quartet TUVALU was formed back in 2003 and just one year after its start the band issued its first musical excursion in the shape of the EP "Mita Muut Ajattelevat Sinusta". Since then three full-length efforts have appeared: "Pimea Saartaa Meita" in 2006, "Viimeiset Hetket Ovat Kasilla" in 2008 and at last "Tuvalu" in 2010. In between recording sessions the band has been an active unit on Finland's live scene.

Analysis. A concept that has started getting recognition and acceptance among certain people involved in the progressive rock scene is the idea of New Prog. As more new artists start delivering their take on rock that expands the boundaries of mainstream-oriented compositions, some choose to incorporate contemporary musical and compositional impulses, producing material with a sound unlike the music most are accustomed to as being described by the moniker progressive rock. Those who subscribe to the concept of New Prog will most likely point to Tuvalu as a rather good example of such a band. The compositions at hand on this third full-length effort are ones that, I assume, many art rock fans will find somewhat puzzling, opening number Tulevien Aikojen Luurangot probably among the ones which will cause the most questioning remarks: its bland of indie rock and alternative metal is a well-crafted and energetic one, but also arguably a good example of a composition with relatively few elements of an art rock pedigree. But as this disc unfolds, the patient listener will start discovering many intriguing musical experiences as well as rewards. Swirling, subtly dissonant guitars of a Robert Fripp-ian nature start appearing on regular occasions; textured instrumentation - in particular from the guitar - bears witness to influences from the type of music dubbed post-rock by many, and staccato guitar patterns owing just as much to acts like Rush as to the indie rock of the 80's appear rather more frequently. Traces of alternative metal are another element that runs like a red thread through this CD, but the most typical feature as such is that Tuvalu opts to blend elements from each of these stylistic approaches in between themes that explore the individual styles in a more purebred manner. Other approaches are visited now and then too, with Black Sabbath an obvious reference for a sequence as well as for a later bass guitar motif on Fantasmagoria. Gentle psychedelic landscapes are explored on the unnamed third track, while Valkoinen Sumu Nousee opens in an aggressive manner that has stronger tendencies towards styles such as hardcore and punk initially, with a Fripp-ian interlude eventually taking this one into less energetic and more progressively-inclined waters prior to the end. As one might surmise, Tulavu has delivered an album of a rather eclectic nature this time around. It does manage to maintain a musical identity despite the variation in approaches found, though, and a key ingredient in so doing are the vocals of Annina Antinranta, whose pipes more often than not made me think of now defunct Polish act Moonlight in terms of tone and delivery as well as overall quality. The vocals uphold a high standard in other words, and the instrumental performances appear to be pretty flawless as well. And while the individual compositions to my ears are just shy of overall greatness, there's no denying that this CD is a strong one.

Conclusion. Those who have a fancy for progressive rock of a generally eclectic nature that also incorporates elements from and references to genres not a part of the art rock universe will most likely find many intriguing aspects to this disc, with fans of acts such as The Mars Volta or Coheed & Cumbria a probable key audience for this fine Finnish act.

OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: May 4, 2011
The Rating Room

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