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Kosmos - Vieraan Taivaan Alla CD (album) cover

VIERAAN TAIVAAN ALLA

Kosmos

Prog Folk


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avestin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I've heard music described as something soothing for an injured soul. I've certainly come across music that could have said function with its delicacy, subtleness and peaceful qualities. And I have found one more such example in the music from Finnish band Kosmos. There are other fine examples of such calm music from Finland: Viima (with their folk approach), Uzva (with their jazzy tunes), Magyar Posse (and their cinematic post-rock) and others like Stringpurée Band and Tenhi.

Kosmos are folk based, mostly acoustic but with occasional lush sounding keyboards (like a mellotron) and female vocals. It is a slow, tranquil and serene affair, subdued even, but charming nonetheless. Their arrangements are simple, but effective, with appropriate use of keyboards to either serve as background or as ornaments to the songs, the acoustic guitar as the skeleton of each song, sparse use of bass and a more frequent use of gentle drumming and percussions and various other instruments like violin, glockenspiel, shrutibox and bells occasionally popping in.

The first five songs are "regular" folk songs while the last two longer songs are a more varied affair where progressive tendencies come into play and where a creative spirit takes charge. While still having a folkish tendency, a more rock and experimental approach is taken; jazzy rhythms prevail, spacey and even psychedelic elements appear, a vaster sound is taking over. The sixth song, Tuulisina Päivinä, has stunning melody with angelic vocals fronting it (though they are in line with the rest of the instruments in the mix), which then switches to an interlude of spacey/psych-rock (still delicate though) and then back again to the main theme. And yet, though they venture out with their composition structure and arrangements the frailty and magic of the previous part of the album are still dominating. The last song, Vieraat, is divided into three parts; the first part is a narration (male voice) where we are hypnotized, and then in the second part, for the first time, an electric guitar appears with rather strong drumming (for the standard set in this album). This is the only full blown rock song here; a rather hypnotizing tune (which works fine with what they're trying to achieve) and it gets fiercer as it proceeds. This was definitely not something I expected given what the rest of the album sounds like. The rhythm section goes on with the mellotron on its side and there is a nice interlude in the middle that strays away from the main theme and then back again with the violin playing a stunning solo part and later on the guitar replaces it. We are then awoken from our hypnosis in the last segment of the song. This three-part song is truly the crowning achievement of this album. A mesmerizing piece, for these two last songs alone the album is worthwhile getting, though I don't want to do a disservice to the rest of the songs which are lovely folk tunes.

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Send comments to avestin (BETA) | Report this review (#257755)
Posted Friday, December 25, 2009 | Review Permalink
Matti
COLLABORATOR
Neo-Prog Team
4 stars This is the third album by Turku-based KOSMOS. The female vocalist Päivi Kylmänen sung also on the debut (2006) of the more symphonic folk prog band VIIMA, despite the fact that Kosmos' debut was released a year prior. The style of Kosmos is rooted in the vintage folk with psychedelic hippie mysticism. Listening to the music makes you think it's really from the early seventies. Acoustic guitar is the central instrument and also the good old mellotron is used for good measure. The arrangements get extra colour from guest appearances: 'Luovun' (= I let go) features a recorder and 'Don Juan' (composed on a poem by Väinö Kirstinä) a bassoon, both played by Pauliina Isomäki. Two tracks feature Jukka Aaltonen's violin.

The first half - or Side One of the vinyl version - is calm and peaceful folk, nearly totally acoustic (+mellotron) and quite free of rock elements. My favourite of those five songs is 'Yön hiljaisuus' (= the silence of night) which is very atmospheric and nocturnal. The simple pattern of acoustic guitar & bass is accompanied only by Päivi's voice and lovely flute/string sounds of mellotron.

The latter half consists of two longer and edgier songs. 'Tuulisina päivinä' (= on windy days) allows the percussion step more upfront and the guitar is electric. The atmosphere is darker and more electrified, so to speak. One of my album associations was none less than In the Court of the Crimson King, but it must be pointed out that Kosmos have a sound and style of their own. According to the main lyricist Olli Valtonen the central idea is "the other reality" in the cosmic and mystic sense. The 12-minute closing track 'Vieraat' (= the guests, or, the strangers) is in three parts. First and last feature suggestopedic narration for total relaxation, or whatever it is called, and the long middle section has full-blown prog rock sound with washes of mellotron, a cool dostorted electric guitar solo and an intensive guest appearance of violin. It's worth noticing that Päivi's beautiful vocals remain as detached as always, in the distinctive Kosmos style. The power of understatement!

I think this is going to be my favourite Kosmos album. Warmly recommended to the friends of retro folk psychedelia, including the non-Finnish who can accept the foreign language. To me it's however essential that the lyrics are in Finnish.

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Send comments to Matti (BETA) | Report this review (#1197395)
Posted Tuesday, June 24, 2014 | Review Permalink

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