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Kataya - Canto Obscura CD (album) cover



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3 stars Canto Obscura - 3.4 / 5

This is an instrumental album with ambient sounds and a new-agey feel to it. Guitars are very dominant and add nice textures but I have to say a few of the solos sounded a little tacky. The keyboards are mostly atmospheric and there's lead synth and organ here and there which is always welcome. The first half of the album contains female vocals without lyrics used as an instrument, like in 'Great Gig in the Sky' by Pink Floyd. The music isn't technical and remains worldly and relaxing throughout, like something you'd hear in an exotic holiday resort foyer. 'Putkivaara' is a nice change though, and contains a faster rhythm and a more 'rockier' feel. 'Mindfrost' contains some weird narration which is also a change but I didn't really like it. Despite these changes the overall moody tone of the album is present in all the songs. Some highlights for me are 'Avojaloin' with it's pleasant rhythmic flow, and Ahava; slice of heaven with its distinct vocal harmonies. In fact Ahava is the only song that evokes a deep emotional response from me.

Overall, a pleasant album but not incredibly progressive. It didn't really pull me in and it felt a bit like an easy listening new-age rock album with progressive rock elements, nothing that pushes boundaries or demands a lot of attention.

Report this review (#537596)
Posted Thursday, September 29, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This group from Finland was established around mid-00's by Pax Romana's leader/founder Matti Kervinen.Kataya evolved from the disbandment of the Ethno/Ambient act Wolf Larsen, where Kervinen played with Teijo Tikkanen.They added multi-instrumentalist Sami Sarhamaa, also founder of the Finnish label Presence Records, in the line-up and the trio recorded its debut ''Canto Obscura'' during a two-year period, released in the spring of 2008.Outside help comes from five guest musicians on vocals, guitars, sax and organ.

The music here seems like coming out of the cold yet sensational Finnish landscapes.Ethereal, delicate and smooth Progressive Rock with mainly folky influences, but offered through an intelligent modern approach, including electronic loops and synthesizers.Kervinen & co. deliver series of short but very elaborate and polished arrangements with limited, dreamy female vocals and a tendency towards moving, instrumental themes with a balanced sound between acoustic and electric vibes.Compatriots MIST SEANSON and VIIMA spring to mind here and there.Deeply atmospheric, the arrangements are based on the mellow synthesizer lines, the folky acoustic guitars and the melodic electric solos, creating cinematic pictures of the Finnish land.The outstanding wordless voices of the two female singers make the whole atmosphere even more emotional.A few tracks though contain a higher level of energy, led by constant CAMEL-esque guitar moves, organs and a more pronounced use of synthesizers.

This is the definition of atmospheric, instrumental Progressive Rock, scanning the emotions from passionate music through laid-back textures of a dreamy approach.Warmly recommended.

Report this review (#977227)
Posted Thursday, June 13, 2013 | Review Permalink

Kataya is a trio featuring 3 experienced and successfull Finnish musicians, one plays keyboards and the other two keyboards, bass, guitars and drums. On their debut CD entitled Canto Obscura (that I bought after their excellent gig on the Dutch Symforce III festival in 2009) the band also makes use of several guests on vocals (including highly acclaimed jazz vocalist Johanna Iivanainen), guitars, soprano saxophone and organ. The inspiration comes from the deep wild forests of Finland, one of the last pure and clean, untouched spots of nature on our planet.

After almost 35 years of listening to progrock, in 2009 I was pleasantly surprised by new unique and genuine progressive (rock) music, in this case it's Kataya with their wonderful blend of folk, ambient and prog. The atmospheres on the 12 compositions often are dreamy or contain slow rhythms with subtle, even a bit fragile use of keyboards, guitars and a wide range of instruments, from modern keyboard sounds and saxophone to accordeon and 12-string guitar. To me it sounds very warm and pleasant, if I close my eyes I can imagine the beauty of the lush and pure Finnish landscapes (European Yellowstone) that has inspired Kataya to make this music. In some songs the climates turn into more dynamic and bombastic like Putkivaara (sensitive guitarwork) and my favorite Avojaloin: first acoustic rhythm guitar, then we can enjoy flashy synthesizer flights, a Hammond organ solo and an exciting, perfectly build-up fiery guitar solo by the outstanding guest guitarist Samu Wuori. And some songs contain wordless vocals, a kind of Finnish answer to Pink Floyd's legendary song The Great Gig In The Sky. This colours the music in a very special way, pretty compelling.

What a beautiful and captivating effort to translate pure nature into pure progresssive music!

P.s.: In 2010 Kataya released their second album Voyager and in 2014 the live album Lives.

Report this review (#1952820)
Posted Saturday, July 28, 2018 | Review Permalink

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