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Low Budget Orchestra - The Second Best CD (album) cover

THE SECOND BEST

Low Budget Orchestra

Neo-Prog


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avestin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Acknowledging he can do better, hence the title of the album, the man behind this project, Mikko Muranen is trying to become a one-man orchestra. Befitting its name, this indeed sounds like a Low Budget Orchestra as it consists of one person, who is a multi-instrumentalist who's album The Second Best is his second release under this moniker. The low budget is probably the reason why there are electronic drums used.

Guitar driven, accompanied by electronic drums and keyboards the make up the lush sounding entourage, albeit not without some drawbacks. His music is instrumental and in this album he presents eight tracks that make up according to him, a flowing sequence of music meant to be heard together. I can definitely hear it, as I think the fullest impact would be to listen to this as a whole piece and not random tracks put together with no care.

The music is not flashy or meant to impress the listener about the technical abilities of the musician. Mikko states in the promo notes that came with the release that "Rather than strictly technical or intellectual, the foundation and focus in my music is on the emotional. Each song is designed to tell a story, convey a feeling, constitute an emotion." I think Mikko achieved just that in these eight pieces of music he presents here. Each one, while connected to others in its sounds and overall style, has a distinct mood and sensation that dominate it. They all sit well when considering the album as a whole and they complement each other quite well and continue the flow naturally (though each track is individual and there is space between them). Mikko's music here is guitar-oriented and lead, but as the tracks go on, he adds more layers to it, mainly with keyboards (that may give the impression of a neo-prog sound). As for the appeal of the music, there are good and catchy ideas here, but nothing out of the ordinary or too impressive. It is enjoyable and catchy guitar-lead instrumental (and keyboard 'enveloped') progressive rock. Sometimes spacey, occasionally highly energetic, the ambience here is quite constant and unified in its style and sound.

Nothing spectacular here, nor too impressive, but not bad as well; however, I do believe that having more musicians on this project will benefit this project's sound, although being with a low budget probably means Mikko can't afford session musicians.

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Send comments to avestin (BETA) | Report this review (#205777)
Posted Sunday, March 08, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars The second album from this one man project.

Again, we are treated to instrumental rock in the area between prog metal and post rock. That and some very strong influences from symphonic prog and some inklings of fusion and jazz.

The compositions is mostly post rock with strong buildups and tonnes of noise with some more acoustic, pastoral parts. The noise is mainly made by guitars with keyboards adding textures to the cascades of guitars. The acoustic parts is mainly done by acoustic guitars with again keyboards adding textures. Textures that gives the music a symphonic prog feel.

The music here is by no means the most exciting music in the scene. But it works and the music is good. The mix of post rock and pastoral symph prog is innovative though and should perhaps inspire other bands too.

This is a good album although not heart stopping exciting. Good effort though.

3 stars

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Send comments to toroddfuglesteg (BETA) | Report this review (#584861)
Posted Thursday, December 08, 2011 | Review Permalink
Matti
COLLABORATOR
Neo-Prog Team
3 stars Elegant Simplicity (UK), Eureka (Germany), Methexis (Greece), etc. As you may know, the common factor is that these are one man bands, more or less. Mikko Muranen from Finland makes instrumental, guitar-oriented yet Neo Prog sounding rock music under the name Low Budget Orchestra. The name must be taken with irony: this is not low-fi music made in poor circumstances, but the budget is low simply because there are no extra musicians to pay. The only other person you can find printed on the covers of this second album is Jaakko Viitalähde who mastered the music. One wouldn't guess in a blindfold test that all instruments are being played by the one and the same person instead of a four-piece group. So talented musicians are rare.

Funny how much that one-man factor affects to the reception. On one hand you tend to praise the technical level (which you wouldn't necessarily do with a band effort), on the other hand you feel very unsure how to express any negative opinions. I try to be honest. I believe if this was an album by a foregn band, I wouldn't hesitate at all to call it unusually single-minded and sort of pointless on the long run. The weakness is definitely not in the execution: Muranen is agifted guitarist, and pretty good on keyboards and rhythm section too. As a producer - given that he's capable of doing team work too - he would be valuable to any newcoming band.

The weakness is in the writing. None of the eight tracks are bad, any of them would be at least a decent instrumental on a good prog album. This is powerful, clean instrumental rock with a meaty sound starring electric guitar. But all put together to form an entire album, they're damn too similar to each other. I wonder if I would ever learn them individually to tell from each other. This deosn't result as weak musci, far from it, but it does result, in my opinion, as a rather boring album which shows excellent craftsmanship but lacks emotional depth.

I feel sorry to sound so negative. I was given all three L.B.O. albums, and I felt the same with the debut. I hope to get more out of the third one. I'll let you know.

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Send comments to Matti (BETA) | Report this review (#1175559)
Posted Thursday, May 15, 2014 | Review Permalink

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