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(41:08, Strangiato Records / Hyper Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Hirmul on Suured Silmad 5:16 2. Janu 4:24 3. Rahutus 4:02 4. Eksinud 4:41 5. Uus Plaan 4:14 6. Kuu 7:28 7. Musta Lipu All 4:46 8. Tulejaa 6:17 LINEUP: Mattias Kuppart - guitars Ragnar Kaasik - vocals, saxophone Mattis Kirsipuu - drums, percussion Kristen Kutner - keyboards, guitars Johan Nestor - bass
Prolusion. Estonian band PROGRESS was formed back in 2012, and appears to have been a fairly productive ensemble following their formation. An initial single appeared in 2014, and the band released their debut album the same year. "Tulejaa" is their second full length studio production, and was released by Estonian label Hyper Records through their Strangiato Records imprint in 2016.
Analysis. Progress is a band that, if nothing else can be said about them, certainly doesn't make a secret as to what type of music they want to explore. When you call you band Progress, it rather comes with a few expectations you might say. And I dare say that many will be rather pleased if they ever should encounter this band. Exploring a more retro-oriented variety of progressive rock has been an ongoing thing for at least a generation at this point, and Progress isn't the worst of these bands by far. In fact, they are very good at doing this, and as a few other bands of this kind they have chosen a more eclectic approach as well. Which is all good, at least in my book. The core and foundation of this band appears to be the harder and heavier aspects of classic era progressive rock, with hard or beefy riffs and various forms of keyboards locked in a tight and at times dramatic interplay. But the band adds quite a bit into this foundation, or perhaps builds upon it, depending on how one choose to regard this. Jazzier details is a clear addition to the mix, with the rhythm department leading the way on that particular detail, and those fond of psychedelic rock having it's place and time in circumstances of this kind will get their fill as well. Progress opts to include the major part of these additions in gentler, calmer passages contrasting their core, harder edged sound, something that works well and is an efficient manner in which to create tension. They will also include the occasional parts with more of a sedate, calm blues feel to it, adding something of a root spirit to their material in that manner. An additional plus to this band is that they have a strong and expressive lead vocalist, and one that is just as much at home in calmer waters as he is when there is a need to belt out lyrics in a more powerful and dramatic manner. Not too many outside of the Baltic region will understand the lyrics, but I rather suspect many progressive rock fans will recognize and acknowledge a strong vocalist even if the words cannot be recognized. Mix and production is, perhaps, a bit on the basic side for some, but it does fit this music perfectly. There is something of an analogue spirit to the entire album experience here, and the mix and production are both details that to my ears strengthen that vintage association this band gives me as a listener. All in all a fine album on all fronts.
Conclusion. Those fond of harder edged progressive rock of a vintage variety, where the band opts to include numerous small and some larger details from jazzrock and psychedelic rock into the totality, should feel right at home with this second studio effort by Estonian band Progress. A strong album of it's specific kind on all levels, and one that to my ears at least comes with a strong association to the analog word and the reality of yesteryear - in a good and appropriate manner.
Progmessor: October 28th, 2018
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