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UTU - Russian Poets CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

4.00 | 4 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars The third album of the Finnish art-rock group UTU has a special background story to it. Three years ago the singer-songwriter Petra Poutanen was deeply moved by a painting in a museum in Helsinki. She wrote the first song 'Melancholy' inspired by that painting of a wintery forest and dark water. Also the rest of the nine songs were inspired by other art forms, the most notable source of inspiration being Russian writer Andrei Platonov. But the band didn't stop there. When they had an albumful of music, they invited [mostly visual] artists of various kind to be inspired by the songs. The release gig of Russian Poets, held in Tampere- house in November 2017, was linked to the opening of the art exhibition. A book was made too, containing both the visual arts and the music CD.

I have reviewed here both preceding UTU albums (released in 2012 and 2016). Sadly there aren't many other reviews, although their English-language music would be equally suitable for international market, as I've said before. The style can still be described as melancholic, atmospheric and richly nuanced underneath the slightly minimalistic surface. Lots of introspective emotions going on in Petra's songs and singing. As a singer she's got some similarities to alternative artists such as Björk, Stina Nordenstam or Amy X. Neuburg (actually my knowledge in this area is rather uncertain). On earlier albums there was perhaps a bigger role for ethnic instruments in the arrangements, and the overall sound was often rather dry. Now there's slightly more electronic elements to make the sound deeper and fuller. The group has done wonderful job together with producer Joonas Outakoski, using a very wide sonic pallette (there are seven band members plus three guests).

This time the lyrics are printed in the supplement, which is very good if the listener wants to get deeper into the songs on every level. But one doesn't need to concentrate on the lyrics to be impressed emotionally. The melancholic and introspective nature of the songs is accompanied by very dynamic and innovative instrumentation. The music occasionally gets bigger and more powerful. To me it's easy to name two least favourites: tracks No. 7 and 8, 'One Sun' and 'Undetermined Purple', that contain relatively harsher sound. But they are followed by a wonderful, nearly 11-minute final track 'Bigger'. The piano-centred arrangement with great variety in the tension and dynamics builds up a powerful, hair-raising listening experience.

Russian Poets is definitely the finest UTU album this far. There are some slightly artificial manners especially in Petra Poutanen's vocal style, and there certainly would be room for more progressive elements in composing itself (as there are lots of dynamics in instrumentation), but if my attempt to describe their music sounds promising to you, why not give them a try!

Matti | 4/5 |


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