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Tai Shan - Iceflower CD (album) cover


Tai Shan


Crossover Prog

3.48 | 20 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars This is the second album by the Finnish instrumental quartet (from Kemijärvi, Lapland). The music operates on the borders of the progressive rock genre, it's more like easy-going jazz-rock/fusion, keyboards and guitar being in the central roles. Composing credits are shared mostly by key-player Markus Jakola and guitarist Janne Särkelä, but also Jakola's bass-playing son Janne has given his contribution. At least at the first listenings it's hard to spot big differences between them as composers. Hopefully further listenings reveal more variety, because I do get a feeling of thinness and monotony on the emotional aspect.

Many tracks have a laid-back groove with a slight funkiness. The gifted musicians seem to sincerely enjoy playing and that's always important too. It also can't be said that any of the tracks would be without nice solos and changes in dynamics and tempo. Especially the keyboards often have an enjoyable airiness. But perhaps something is missing and I can't exactly put my finger on it. "Nice, not much else", like another reviewer here has said. Considering that the album is over one hour in length, the feeling of sameness begins to be a bit disturbing. Happily the closing number 'Ice Flower' is the unquestionable highlight. Emotionally it's richer than any of the other nine tracks.

Here and there the melodic, light, jazz-oriented fusion reminds me of MIST SEASON (also from Finland) which band however have clearly richer arrangements - featuring reeds - and more variety in composing too. As a quartet Tai Shan is technically very good and it's not completely fair to compare them to a larger and more experienced group. On the other hand, that comparison can be taken positively. Does this music sound recognizingly Finnish - or Scandinavian? Well, not very much in my opinion. I believe especially in America there are several jazz/fusion groups with more or less similar approach. Certainly a nice, finely produced album suitable for relaxed background listening, but maybe a bit unexciting from the prog rock's point of view.

Matti | 3/5 |


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