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(56:34, Eclipse Music)
TRACK LIST: 1. Paalasmaa 6:05 2. Athene Ja Zephyr 7:55 3. Hetken Haave 2:57 4. Tapiirikuningas 5:17 5. Kahvit Kuopiossa 4:49 6. Tulta Pain 6:18 7. Kultasiipi 7:07 8. Kaustisen Yomarssi 5:41 9. Taivaanvahdit 7:44 10. Kultasiipi (Reprise) 2:41 LINEUP: Juha Kujanpaa - keyboards Timo Kamarainen - guitars, banjo Tero Tuovinen - bass Jussi Miettola - drums Kukka Lehto - violin Tommi Asplund - violin Alina Jarvela - violin With: Antti Sarpila - clarinet Henri Haapakoski - flute, sax Emmi Kujanpaa - vocal Teija Niku - accordeon
Prolusion. Finnish compser and musician Juha KUJANPAA has been creating music for almost 20 years, is presently a member of half a dozen bands, and have generally been an active presence in the Finnish music scene. He made his debut as a solo artist back in 2013, and currently have three solo albums to his name. "Kultasiipi" is the second of these, and was released through Finnish label Eclipse Music at the tail end of 2015.
Analysis. While it is rather certain that Kujanpaa's music resides firmly somewhere in the progressive rock universe, just where it belongs will be much up to the individual listening to it. There are elements of multiple genres that make up the greater part of his compositions, but not to the extent of being overly eclectic at that. The two main aspects of the material at hand here are progressive folk rock and symphonic progressive rock, and as far as references go one might imagine Camel, if they relocated to Scandinavia and took on a more folk-music mode of expression. The key traits of this album are the use of violins. The violins are the main providers of the folk music elements here, in tone as well as in melody. Many melodies feels like they have an origin in Scandinavian folk music, and the ones that do not comes across to me as referencing classical music with folk music details. Names such as Grieg and Sibelius comes to mind in that general context, which also tied in nicely with the second dominant aspect of the material here. While the folk music references are clear and defined, the violins often come across as providers also of symphonic textures, and combined with the keyboards as well as standalone features they will also provide symphonic textures and backdrops, at times giving this album something of a vintage era symphonic progressive rock oriented feel. Especially when also combined with fine flowing, elegant guitar solo motifs, performed in a spirit not too far removed from the likes of Andy Latimer. Which, for me, adds something of a Camel-tinged atmosphere to just about entire album. That some elements with a likely jazz origin find their way into many of the compositions kind of emphasize that of course, and perhaps to stress that aspect of the material we are treated with a token song that initally revolves around a purebred jazz foundation too. The compositions as such alternate between being light, elegant and romantic affairs and being more melancholic and gentle in expression. Occasionally adding a bit more bite to the proceedings, but without ever becoming dramatic or hard hitting. This is an album with more of a dream-laden touch to it overall, although a subtle touch of the colder wintertime moods may arguably be a presence on concluding cut Kultasiipi (Reprise). One should probably also note that this is, by and large, an instrumental album. Atmospheric laden backing vocals do appear in one track, but then as a melodic texture rather than a provider of any lyrical message.
Conclusion. There are many artists out there that explore various incarnations of vintage era progressive rock. While Kujanpaa most likely is a part of such a context, he does this in his own manner, blending elements from Scandinavian folk music in an elegant and effective manner, creating music with a dream-laden spirit that also maintains depth and enough details to please most with a taste for music of this kind. I'd suggest that those who tend to enjoy artists such as Camel should have a taste of this album, especially if they also tend to be fascinated by folk music in general and Scandinavian folk music in particular.
Progmessor: February 25th, 2018
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