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erik neuteboom
3 stars This debut album by the Finnish progrock band Viima has touched me from the very first moment, what a wonderful sound featuring lots of fine musical ideas and surprising twists and turns. The six compositions (all between 6 and 10 minutes) contain a blend of folk, rock and symphonic rock, in my opinion with the emphasis on the latter category. You will hear many flowing shifting moods, from dreamy to rock or bombastic parts: Leijonan Syksy delivers halfway a beautiful keyboard interlude as a bridge to a long and moving guitar solo with echoes from Steve Rothery, the titletrack contains great variation, from sparkling piano to wah-wah guitar, a harpsichord-piano duet and a church organ part, Ilmalaiva Italia starts dreamy but then there is a steamy rock and roll guitar interlude and a sensational synthesizer solo and in Luutomat the dreamy climate with twanging guitars and flkute turns into a mid-tempo with fiery saxophone work (in the vein of mid-Pink Floyd) and majestic violin-Mellotron. The final, long track Johdsatus delivers again lots of variation, wonderful keyboards and a long, compelling guitar solo. To me Viima their sound evokes early Renaissance (great female vocals but in Finnish) and mid-Genesis (lush 24-carat symphonic rock parts) but Viima doesn't sound as a clone, they present a beautiful blend of folk and symphonic rock that contains many surprising musical ideas. This is a strong debut!

Report this review (#84088)
Posted Tuesday, July 18, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars Viima were once known as the band "The Lost Spectacles" who later changed their name and released a stunning debut album under the name now of Viima. Led by the beautiful female vocals of Päivi Kylmänen (hate to say but carries a slight Annie Haslam quality) along with the excellent keyboard work of Kimmo Lähteenmäki (who also played drums in the sessions), guitarist/flautist Mikko Uusi-Oukari and bass player Jarmo Kataja deliver some great music here. This band and album reaches out on a few different directions with strong allusions to Camel, Renaissance and even some Arena. My favourite track is "Ilmalaiva Italia" which crossed the Porcupine Tree realm with some pretty moving musical moments. Generally the mood of this album is soft and symphonic but there are a few heavier guitar ripping sections too. I love the flute and keyboard symphonic passages which definitely remind me of classic Camel. Viima has really released a lovely album here for sure and I would recommend this album to everyone lover of Progressive Rock.
Report this review (#85737)
Posted Friday, August 4, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars I really love the haunting sound of the female vocalist in this band. I love the haunting and romantic sound of their music. I think that their music is affecting my emotions in a very good way. For that reason I want to give it five stars. I think they are going to have much better records to come. I think for an independent record, it deserves five stars. Not everyone can enjoy strawberry icecream, but this is my taste in music, and I think it is very excellent in many ways. They have very excellent ideas and arrangements are very well thought out.
Report this review (#87354)
Posted Tuesday, August 15, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars From the land of a thousand lakes and forests comes this preciously sober, simple and enchanting prog folk album, not pretentious for a second and a definite dose of soothing aural medicine after a heavy day of Anekdoten pounding your senses into oblivion. What makes this such an attractive package is the constant progressive touches to the folk concept (which alone can be a little wimpy) , so we have a smorgasbord chock full of whopping lead guitar solos in a very clean and fluid style , keyboards that mesh organ, piano, harpsichord and some nice fat synth solos and an efficient rythm section that reminds us this is not a two acoustic guitars and one singer folkie cafe ensemble. It is also an experience to witness all the vocals sung in Finnish, a surprisingly fluid language that is more pleasant than their scandinavian and germanic neighbours , expertly delivered by a female singer with a most unique inflection to her voice, simply pure yet with a steady set of pipes , without overdoing it or hogging the spotlight. Lots of little touches, a hint of flute, a blast of sax, always exciting and surprising, making this a thorough listening experience. All the tracks are in the 7 minute range with "Ilmalaiva Italia" standing slightly ahead of the pack, but this is a consistent ride , though a tad too short ( I hate short prog albums, Le Orme's biggest caveat....) but this will undoubtedly please fans of Shine Dion, early White Willow, Faveravola, Gian Castello and even Blackmore's Knight. Hey! 4 nordic lakes .
Report this review (#124929)
Posted Wednesday, June 6, 2007 | Review Permalink
Prog-Folk Team
4 stars One reason I tend to prefer prog from non Anglo countries is that I have a great love of world music and find that it often incorporates well into the bands from afar, at least from my perspective. Certainly this is not always the case, and sometimes only the vocals sound foreign, but, in Viima's debut, the influence of Finnish folk music on the overall symphonic sound is readily discernible. Excellent female vocals and classic progressive instrumentation including flute, along with some arrangements that make the hair stand on end, are everywhere on this album.

One comparison I can think of would be early Camel instrumentally, and there is certainly a Camel vibe throughout, both in guitars and organs. I had also heard comparisons to Mostly Autumn, but find Mikko Uusi-Oukari's guitar style a lot less diffuse than that of Bryan Josh, and the folk element of Vima is more sprinkled throughout the disk whereas with Mostly Autumn it tends to dominate or be virtually absent. I would expect that experts on the Nordic axis could cite others, although early White Willow did come to mind in a few places.

My favourite remains the opener, "Leijonan syksy", with its delicate pastoral theme on string sounding keys followed by a spiritual lead guitar solo being the absolute highlight. "Ajatuksia Maailman Laidalta" bares the Scandinavian roots a bit more, while "Meri" features more gorgeous lead guitar and keyboard interchanges with Päivi Kylmänen's singing the perfect compliment. "Luuttomat" starts off with vocals, flute and acoustic guitars not entirely unlike some of White Willow's early material but more overtly folky. These segments alternate brilliantly with a more ominous rhythmic guitar/saxophone theme. This album is not flawless, as "Illmalaiva Italia" shows a certain lack of maturity in its handling of shifting moods, and the closer "Johdatus" does drag a little, but even in the weaker moments, Viima shows that they have successfully incorporated ancient and modern themes into a distinctive style. Highly recommended.

Report this review (#129229)
Posted Wednesday, July 18, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars I was very eager to get this album to my hands after reading about it. A Finnish language prog album by a new promising band with a female singer! My expectations were high, but I'm not disappointed, even if it maybe wasn't the absolutely best thing I've heard lately. First I must say that labeling this as Prog Folk is not the whole story. It could at least almost pass as Symphonic Prog too, as it leans very faithfully on the 'classic' prog of the seventies. Here it tastes like CAMEL, there you get some JETHRO TULL (especially the opener), and even a RUSH-like fast instrumental part cuts through a peaceful track ('Ilmalaiva Italia'). Comparisons to RENAISSANCE and mOSTLY AUTUMN are also acceptable. The style of Neo Prog is present too. It all comes together very nicely. They sound fairly original despite all the associations to legendary bands.

The key members are two men who both play two different instruments (keyboards+drums/ guitars+flute) and compose most of the music. Unfortunately the lineup of Viima seems quite unsettled; changes have occurred before this debut and I've read that the singer Päivi Kylmänen has left the band. A pity: her voice may be a bit clumsy technically but it's autumnally fresh.

One can see already by looking at the track lengths (and that there's only six of them) that they really take their progressiveness seriously and put a lot of effort to their music. There's no weak track, each one has melodic and sonic richness that keep the listening experience fresh and exciting for many rounds, or so I hope at this point (2-3 listenings). And this is only their debut! I deeply wish that Viima grow to be a major act in Finnish prog scene. The lyrics are thoughtful and slightly naiive perhaps, but no complaining. If you want a non-English language prog album with finely crafted music in the melodic style of Camel and with a folkish touch à la Jethro Tull, this is what you've been waiting for.

Report this review (#135676)
Posted Saturday, September 1, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Viima's Sympholk

Wonderful, melodic music this album entails. Peaceful and lovely female vocals are enhanced by the delicate flute; but there is no lack of propulsion in the music. On the other hand, there's a good amount of vibrancy and vitality mixed with well done compositions and high level musicianship. There is a "joix de vivre" sensation throughout the album. Not only that, but great warmth emanates from the music. The music is elevating and inspirational.

With the fabulous vocal harmonies come wonderful keyboard playing, guitar solos and "painting" by the flute. The second song, Ajatuksia maailman laidalta, is a wonderful example of just that. An uplifting melody that is improved by the band's use of contradiction of the guitars and keyboards, each giving an somewhat opposing mood that blend in together very well. This song also shows how their compositional skills are good since it is very easy to make this music boring and yet this is a very captivating piece of music that is quite varied and very compelling. There is no use of bombastic tricks in here, everything flows perfectly and feels very natural. The third track, Ilmalaiva Italia, can fool you with its peaceful calm beginning. But then in the middle it turns rock on you and starts blasting out, with regards to the criteria of this record. A great keboards and guitar soloing goes on until the song goes back to its initial pace.

I won't go into the other songs but they are as wonderful as the ones I mentioned. This is another feat of this album; the high level kept throughout this release. In the end, it's not only the beauty of this music that is captivating, and the excellent playing that goes on; it's also the variety they show in their songs, whether in the structure of the songs or in the moods that change within them.

While I wouldn't compare it necessarily to Renaissance (perhaps it's the singer's voice that brings this up), it is not that misleading; however a good pinpoint would be a "folklorized" Camel and Mostly Autumn is also a fair allusion to make.

This is a sympholk gem that I highly recommend grabbing.

Report this review (#171297)
Posted Saturday, May 17, 2008 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars When I first started listeneing to this it sounded like your typical Scandanavian Folk band with a female vocalist. The fact she sings in her own Finnish language is kind of cool but really i'm not big on Prog-Folk to begin with after 3 minutes on the first track comes this electric guitar solo that has me begging for more, and guess what ? There's plenty more where that came from. Add to that the flute and sax and this album completely won me over.

"Leijonan Syksy" opens with rain and thunder before these female vocals with acoustic guitar take over. Synths flood in before 3 minutes. Nice. Then that guitar solo I like so much follows. Just gorgeous. Vocals are back before 5 1/2 minutes then another guitar solo before 6 minutes. "Ajatuksia Maailman Laidalta" opens with guitar then the female vocals take over with a pleasant melody. Piano after a minute. Guitar before 4 minutes. Synths late followed by vocals. Organ ends it. It sounds like church organ actuially,quite powerful.

"Ilmalaiva Italia" opens with relaxed sounds as reserved vocals join in. Check out the guitar after 2 1/2 minutes that comes out of nowhere and starts to light it up for a prolonged period of time. Nice. A calm after 4 1/2 minutes as the original soundscape returns. "Meri" opens with the sounds of waves as acoustic guitar and vocals join in. The electric guitar after 1 1/2 minutes is brief. Organ before 3 1/2 minutes. Flute 5 minutes in followed by more electric guitar. Vocals are back then the waves end it. "Luuttomat" features flute and acoustic guitar early as reserved vocals join in. Sax comes in before 2 minutes and later at 4 minutes. Good song. "Johdatus" is the longest track at 9 1/2 minutes. Drums and keyboards to start.It picks up some when the vocals join in. Piano before 5 minutes followed by the guitar that starts to solo. I like it. Piano is back 8 1/2 minutes in.

This is so well done from beginning to end, a well deserved 4 stars.

Report this review (#276850)
Posted Thursday, April 8, 2010 | Review Permalink
Heavy Prog & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars Is a brilliant prog folk album from these Finnish rockers. Fronted buy a female singer, (Päivi Kylmänen) all the lyrics are sung in Finnish. The opener, "Leihonan Syksy" (6:27) (8/10) sounds like a dead ringer for a Finnish "Living in the Past." The title song is at times a bit bland, at times a bit too folksy, but still a solid song. "Ilmalaiva Italia" (5:59) (9/10) is a mellow tune with some simple but great musical support to some awesome vocal harmonies. "Meri" (7:57) (9/10) is great throwback to CURVED AIR's "Marie Antoinette" with great electric guitar substituting for David Cross' violin. "Luuttomat" (5:56) (8/10) starts as a gorgeous acoustic guitar vocal & flute folk song before switching gears to electric guitar and saxophone. The finale, "Johdatus" (9:31) (9/10) again shows a lot of similarities to CURVED AIR, musically, but especially in the lead vocalist's sounds and stylings. The piano-based, classically-tinged second section and the electric guitar play in the eighth minute are both highlights for me.

A solid four star classic.

Report this review (#459446)
Posted Sunday, June 12, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Viima started in 1999 in Turku as Lost Spectacles, led by three members of the later Psych/Folk band Kosmos, singer Päivi Kylmänen, keyboardist/drummer Kimmo Lähteenmäki and guitarist/flutist Mikko Uusi-Oukari.With two more members on bass and guitars they covered Matti Järvinen's track "Tuulee Niin" for the 2001 ''Tuonen Tytär'' compilation by Mellow Records.The following years the band suffered from come's and go's on the bass and drums positions, eventually residing on Jarmo Kataja for the bass duties, while Lähteenmäki handled both the drums and keys.In 2006 the band's debut ''Ajatuksia maailman laidalta'' is released privately under the Viima name, featuring three new and three older and remixed compositions.

Viima play some sort of Symphonic-Folk Rock with minor psychedelic influences and bands like CAROL OF HARVEST, REBEKKA and WHITE WILLOW are the first reasonable comparisons.The overall atmosphere is mellow and calm despite the constant use of electric guitars.Viima rather head for balanced, careful-played Progressive Rock with elaborate melodies and dreamy instrumental sections than delivering something too complicated and excessive.The keyboard work of Lähteenmäki is a strong point and dominates the album, featuring moog synths, mellotron, harpsichord, church organ and piano, thus adding to the album a heavy vintage flavor.The guitar work is mostly melodic with evident CAMEL influences.CAMEL appear to be a great influence for the band also in the flute parts.However the acoustic passages have a melancholic tune, typical of Scandinavian bands, while female vocalist Päivi Kylmänen has a steady and clear voice.Do not expect to hear some fascinating musicianship by Viima.The members of the band are clever enough to focus on their strongest advantages, which are the delicate harmonies, the folk atmospheres and the vintage prog aesthetics.

A great Finnish surprise and a decent Prog/Folk file next to the likes of bands of the style with evident symphonic leanings.Warmly recommended, even more if you are after acts like EDEN, REBEKKA, WURTEMBERG, CAROL OF HARVEST, WERWOLF or CREDEMUS. ..3.5 stars.

Report this review (#632783)
Posted Sunday, February 12, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars 4,5 stars, really !!! AJATUKSIA MAAILMAN LAIDALTA, excellent work from this Finnish band VIIMA. and without trace of doubt one of the best prog folk albums from early 80's. Their sound is a little different of majority of bands of the style, because includes in their arrangements some unusual features as for instance, the use of strong electric guitar melodies and some synthesizers. Unavoidably comes comparations with bands of the style like RENAISSANCE ( due to female vocals and some acoustic piano parts ) , Jethro Tull ( in the electric guitar riffs and some rhythm sections ) and CAMEL ! I simply cannot detach any track, because the album besides be full of very original are very close to perfection ! My rate is 4 stars !!! With a a great dose of admiration !!!
Report this review (#1579897)
Posted Saturday, June 18, 2016 | Review Permalink

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