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UTU - Songs in Flesh Minor CD (album) cover

SONGS IN FLESH MINOR

UTU

Crossover Prog


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Matti
COLLABORATOR
Neo-Prog Team
4 stars The Finnish UTU consists of musicians from Tampere and Helsinki. This is their only album so far. And this is (my translation of) how they describe their music themselves: "We are a mind-blowing group that makes new and individual art pop. Our storytelling is a mix of contrasts, between both acoustic & electronic and styles & dynamics. When asked, the style or genre is said to be a state of emotion." The leader and sole composer is Petra Poutanen who sings - in English - and plays acoustic guitar and kantele, being probably the only Finnish pop/rock (non-folk!) artist to play kantele.

Those rather bold words are not without truth. At least for a Finnish group - even with our historical/national instrument involved - this is quite original and fresh 'art pop' and actually in no way reveals what country it comes from. Petra's seducing and slighly creaked / fragile, girlish voice does resemble some English-speaking artists but I'm not sure who. JOAN NEWSOM is one of them, and this is not just an association due to the closeness of kantele and harp (not that kantele would be very audible in the sound, as harp is certainly in Newsom's music). There is a dash of BJÍRK in the singing style, but no, she's not among those I'm trying to remember now. How about Swedish SOPHIE ZELMANI, at least in the most delicate places? Anyway, the vocals are very much in the centre; in a blindfold test I'd think this is a singer-songwriter album. A highly artistic one, of course, but I probably wouldn't have had the guts to suggest UTU into ProgArchives. Glad they're added.

The group's acoustically oriented, slightly jazzy sound is nice, emphasized on delicate nuances instead of rocky sound walls. The songwriting is totally free of folk or Ethnic flavour in my opinion, but naturally kantele, jouhikko (I don't know its translation), viola and accordion bring such elements. The dry, slow and delicate percussion is present to a notable degree. Piano sometimes. As they said, dynamics change and there's a lot of contrasts. And yet the sound seems to have a thoroughly thought nature to make the whole very coherent.

The songs are mostly balancing between calmness and some sense of unease or self-search. As pop music this is not easy-listening stuff, and it probably takes some time to get into its introspective aura. My first impression wasn't very positive but now I'm enjoying this much more. My favourites are tracks full of dreaminess and emotion, such as 'I Try'. 'Today' is too much built on percussions in a way I don't like, but even that song has beautiful, more melodic sections, occasionally.

There aren't memorable melodies in this album but once you get into the wave-length it offers an interesting and emotionally deep listening experience. Not necessarily "prog" but so what. Recommended internationally to listeners of calm, female fronted art pop, who accept some jazz & folk nuances too.

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Send comments to Matti (BETA) | Report this review (#1226670)
Posted Thursday, July 31, 2014 | Review Permalink

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