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Alamaailman Vasarat - Maahan CD (album) cover


Alamaailman Vasarat



3.88 | 91 ratings

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Anthony H.
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Alamaailman Vasarat: Maahan [2007]

Rating: 8/10

Although many point to Kaarmelautakunta as Alamaailman Vasarat's best album, I've always considered Maahan to be far superior. AV tend to follow a 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it' formula, and this is as true on Maahan as it is on all of their other albums (with the obvious exception of Kinaporin Kalifaatti). Thus, this album is a crazy concoction of klezmer, metal, jazz, chamber music, and ethnic folk. Although AV's sound certainly has not changed, this does not mean that is has not developed. This band has always had a bit of a gimmicky feel to them, despite the quality of the music they make. On Maahan, however, this feeling is completely gone. These are developed compositions that retain the band's fun atmosphere while incorporating a new sense of sophistication and honest musicianship. AV's prior albums also suffered from a sense of sameness; the songs blended into one another. This is another problem that has been fixed on Maahan. All of these musical developments culminate to form a record that is nothing short of excellent.

The album opens with a short self-titled intro that builds up to the first full-length track, 'Kyyhylly.' This is one the best tracks the band ever did. The main 'riff' (I'm unsure what else to call it) is fantastic, and every instrument is on absolute full-throttle. This is AV at their best. 'Helmi Otsalla' is a fast-paced klezmer piece with fantastic reed work. The cello breakdown is superb, as well. The jazzy 'Luiden Valossa, Naapurin Talossa' features some superb drumming, as well as enormously impressive piano and cello. The beginning of Huikeuden Lierio' has a bit of an avant-jazz vibe, and the middle section creates an exciting crescendo. 'Elaimet Huutaa' is an incredible track in every way. The main cello riff sounds like some out of a Renaissance fair, and the other instruments back up the superb cello playing enormously well. 'Lumeen Nukkuneet' is the weakest track here; it has a very loose sense of direction. Still, the brass and cello create quite a menacing atmosphere. The metal side of AV's sound finally rears its head on 'Katkorapu.' The main theme here is great, and the pump organ sounds wonderful. 'Kaarme Toi Ruton Kaupunkiin' is another super-charged klezmer freakout; fantastic as always. 'Rooman Ruumiit' contains even more superb cello work, and the brass and reeds create fantastic musical layers. The album ends with 'Elukka', a short piece of ethnic folk.

Alamaailman Vasarat really hit a creative high on Maahan. Their unusual band setup (reeds, brass, two cellos, organ/piano, and drums) serves as their biggest asset here. All six band members shine on these tracks; the compositions balance these seemingly disparate musical ideas and sounds into a coherent whole that is all but irresistible even to those unacquainted with avant-garde music. Cellists Tuukka Helminen and Marko Manninen are the real stars here, though. These guys create an absolutely solid rhythm section that forms an enormous foundation for these pieces. This not a perfect album; some of the musical ideas don't work quite as well as others. However, it is immensely enjoyable, and fans of jazz, avant-garde, or klezmer should pay special attention to it. This is superb stuff; highly recommended.

Anthony H. | 4/5 |


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