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Alamaailman Vasarat - Huuro Kolkko CD (album) cover


Alamaailman Vasarat



3.75 | 42 ratings

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4 stars Univers Zero goes Klezmer and trash metal simultaneously, or RIO is undead. Welcome to Alamaailman Vasarat, or the "Underworld of the Hammers".

The only one negative thing about the Hammers' latest masterpiece "Huuro Kolkko" is that it is a little short with it's 39 minutes. But it rocks! And it does that - this time - without any kind of a guitar. Now, that's an achievement! These Finnish virtuoso's do it, using a fancy collection of string and wind instruments, including two cello's, Tubax and Theremin. Now, what on Underworld are those last two things? Tubax is a "truly rare beauty", a special contrabass saxophone. This is what you will find on Wikipedia about it: "a modified saxophone, developed in 1999 by the German instrument maker Benedikt Eppelsheim." It seems to be a result of crossbreeding between tuba and sax, hence the name. Heil to this German musical botanist! Tubax is a real fun; it is huge and makes very, very low sounds. I guess, it's quite hard to play on that underworldly thing. According to the band, the instrument was made by Eppelsheim especially for Jarno "Stakula" Sarkula, the band's leader and composer of the most music. And Theremin... You know, the first synthesizer, invented by the Russian Professor Theremin in 1920s? Anyway, you play it by moving your hand between two antennas.

"Huuro Kolkko" is a concept album named after an until now unknown Finnish explorer of the begin of the 20th century. Read the whole story on their site, very amusing. In short, one night Kolkko is inspired by a strange vision, undertakes an expedition, finds an unknown continent and stumbles upon some mind breaking phenomenon there, which results in his madness. And that is a pity: now he is not able to tell anybody about his discovery.

The album starts with a stunning, hallucinatory opener, "Mielisaurus" ("Mindsaurus"). I couldn't write a better description of the song, than one the band did themselves. It "can be described as a shining example of "Hammerbilly" music style, starts with cellos and pump organ, followed by Tubax ? and enters the verse with tenors and trombone. Don't miss out the haunting Theremin in the calm section before the end." What can I say more? Listen to it, you will be blown away.

All other songs on the album are highly imaginair composed, fantastically played and arranged with an unbelievable density and enthusiasm. You will hear a thousand beautiful tunes, music styles and moods, all according to the story of course. Once more, on you will find notes and explanations to every song. No need to repeat it all here. Read it, you will see the film called "Huuro Kolkko" before your eyes, and surely smile more than once. The guys definitely have a sense of humour, which you will also find in the music itself by the way?

Alamaailman Vasarat was founded in 1997 by Sarkula and drummer Teemu Hänninen. "Jarno had just bought a soprano sax - a reason enough to start a new band!"? This is their fifth album. Their earlier efforts didn't went unmentioned as well. They received Finnish Teosto prize in 2005 for their collaboration album "Kinaporin Kalifaatti" (with singer Tuomari Nurmio). They have done theatre and film music, among others for an animated movie Elukka ("The Animal"), which has got an award for the best music score at French film festival Premiers Plans in 2006. They played on many festivals, including world music and progressive rock festivals. Among them are Músicas do Mundo (Portugal), Stranger Than Paranoia (Netherlands), TFF Rudolstadt (Germany), Urkult Folk (Sweden), Pit Inn (Japan), NEARfest (USA), etc.

Let me give you this one piece of advice: if you like Univers Zero and Henry Cow, or you are an open minded music lover, looking for something really new - buy this album, and all the rest, you will not regret it. I myself regret only one thing: that I discovered the band only now, ergo I deprived myself of a huge pleasure during the last 10 years. At least 5 stars here, please!

justaguy | 4/5 |


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