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(42 min, Progrock)
TRACK LIST: 1. Leijonan Syksy 6:27 2. Ajatuksia Maailman Laidalta 6:38 3. Ilmalaiva Italia 6:00 4. Meri 7:54 5. Luuttomat 6:00 6. Johdatus 9:31 LINEUP: Kimmo Lahteenmaki - keyboards; drums Mikko Uusi-Oukari - guitars; flute Paivi Kylmanen - vocals Jarmo Kataja - bass With: Kimmo Alho - sax
Prolusion. I received this disc from Finnish group VIIMA. There are just two brief sentences in the so-called supporting material: "Here is our new CD. For more info visit our website". I did, inasmuch as both sentences, and especially the phrase "our new CD", suggested that the band had some more releases previously. Not so. While their website isn't too informative (to put it mildly), it's clear that "Ajatuksia Maailman Laidalta" is their first offering.
Analysis. All six of the tracks present are songs with Finnish lyrics. The warm and soulful vocals of the female singer Paivi Kylmanen flawlessly fit this music, but nonetheless, I feel satisfied that none of the pieces is vocal-heavy and that there is place for large-scaled instrumental maneuvers on each (in which is no wonder though, since even the shortest one lasts for six minutes). Well, some recurring vocal lines on a few tracks seem to be a bit over the top there, but the overall picture is never boring, thanks to the players, whose passion for a ceaseless, yet always intelligible soloing is beyond praising. The band's principal musical preferences are brightly reflected already on the opening number, Leijonan Syksy, and therefore are typical of most of the material. The vocal-based arrangements draw a picture of progressive Folk Rock with a slight minstrel-like feeling, while those purely instrumental evoke nothing else but '70s symphonic Art-Rock, possessing many essential features that the style is famed for. A lot of analog vintage instruments are well employed throughout, with organ, mini-Moog, piano, flute and acoustic guitar to please anybody enjoying Progressive at the time of its heyday. Viima derive nothing from anybody; their compositional thinking is free of any stereotypes, but nonetheless they could not attain an absolutely original identity, which on the other hand is an almost impossible mission nowadays, especially within the genre they've chosen. Paivi's vocals reminds me of Renaissance's Annie Haslam with a Finnish vibration, though her singing manner is closer to that of Sonja Nedelec from Minimum Vital. In the instrumental sections the music is much more variegated and original, and although echoes of Minimum Vital, Jethro Tull, Camel and Curved Air can suggest themselves in places, this is not a case for talking of direct influences. As the electric guitar and keyboards are often multi-tracked, the picture includes up to eight instruments at times, and yet the recording never leaves a sense of being overloaded with production values. Meri is another lively representative of the group's fundamental style, as also are Ajatuksia Maailman Laidalta and Johdatus, although these are richer in string arrangements and feature a few Classical-like movements in addition. The finale of the title track is gorgeous organ music. The largely instrumental Ilmalaiva Italia is a complex, ornate architecture, some of its mounting constructions being made up of heavy metal. This piece reveals more effective transitions and contrasts than any of the others. As to the remaining song Luuttomat, only the presence of sax improvisations somewhat distinguishes it from those done in the primary style. The highlights comprise Ilmalaiva Italia, the title track and Johdatus, though the other three compositions are just slightly inferior to these.
Conclusion. The sound of the album is warm and volumetric; the band's executive possibilities are so solid that they hardly associate with those we normally expect from beginners. What seems to be most significant, however, is that Viima's sincere belief in what they do is striking immediately, so even the most sophisticated listener will hardly remain indifferent towards their debut effort. Recommended.
VM: Agst 20, 2006
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