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Scarlet Thread - Valheista Kaunein CD (album) cover

VALHEISTA KAUNEIN

Scarlet Thread

 

Prog Folk

3.88 | 11 ratings

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ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk Researcher
4 stars It occurred to me when I opened the package this album came in that Musea Records must do an awful lot of their business via mail order. Of all their CDs that I have, I don’t believe I bought any of them at a brick-and-mortar unless it was a used record at a head shop or old book store. Not that this has anything to do with this CD, it just struck me that you would have thought by now the label would have moved to all digipacks, at least for their imported stuff. The jewel case this came in only had a very minor crack from the shipping, but this seems like an archaic way to transport a CD all the way from France to the midwestern US. And by the way, I think the drummer pictured on the inside artwork has his fly open. Anyway, I digress as usual. On to the music.

The first track on this Finnish folk band’s latest album gives the impression of being more like neo-prog music than folk. And to a certain extent that’s probably true. I sometimes wonder if any band with a violin and a flute is automatically considered folk. Hardly. Everyone knows you have to throw in a lute to make it a real prog folk band, and an electric hurdy-gurdy to qualify as a neo-prog folk act. These guys don’t cut the mustard on either count. In fact the opening track “Tahtijen Taistelu” sounds more like the opening salvo of a Nightwish album than anything remotely folk-related. One other note – this is an all-instrumental album, although I actually was on my second spin of it before I actually noticed this. These tracks were recorded in 2004 but only released in 2006 after the band signed a deal with Musea. According to the band’s web site they now have a female vocalist and have rewritten several of these tracks to include vocals, so if you have a chance to see them live I suppose you’ll get a taste of that.

But the following title track settles down considerably, and violinist Erja Lahtinen is excellent on violin along with flautists Juha Sutela and Essi Suikkanen, who add to the folk feeling even though their instruments are mostly buried behind the twin guitar attack of Jani Timoniemi and Sami Hiltunen. “Vaeltava” is similar except that here the violin is even more prevalent and there is a tasty blues-inspired guitar solo that dominates the middle portion of the track.

“Juma Lanpilkkakirves” actually shows a little jazz/fusion influence in the arrangement, and I wonder if some of this was improvised in the studio. Lahtinen’s violin work reminds me of former Kansas violinist Robby Steinhardt on this track and on “Aatoksia Kivusta”. There is heavier guitar work here than on most prog folk albums, and that probably lends to the comparison. In fact, the closing track “Kunnes Kuolema Meit Erottaa” is very much in the vein of the mellower Masque-era Kansas music (minus Steve Walsh’s vocals of course), and “Haarasilta” is a tune I could see the original Kansas performing on stage without any trouble whatsoever.

“Levoton Sielu” is the most interesting track because of the way it melds a neo sort of guitar riff with meandering violin parts and the heaviest bass lines on the album. This track gives the feeling of being on a mystical journey of some sort with danger lurking all about, rough terrain to traverse, and of wooden ships in a nearby harbor. Very nice.

I didn’t really take to these guys much the first couple of times I listened to this album, but it has definitely grown on me with each spin. I’m looking forward to their next release and will almost surely be adding them to my ‘must buy’ list in the future. Four stars and well recommended not only to prog folk fans, but to neo-proggers as well.

peace

ClemofNazareth | 4/5 |

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