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Moonwagon - The Rule Of Three CD (album) cover



Psychedelic/Space Rock

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3 stars - First review of this album -

The Finnish space rock band MOONWAGON has become a trio after the departure of keyboardist Ami Hassinen. The keys on this recent release are shared by guitarist Joni Tiala and bassist Janne Ylikorpi. The album may not have quite as wide sonic pallette as the excellent Foyers of the Future (2012), but it's pleasantly varied, a little more oriented to string instruments (dulcimer and mandolin accompany the guitars). Perhaps one could say that the trio's music is a bit more "down to earth", but nevertheless it still offers fine moments of intelligent space rock.

There are only six tracks with varied lengths. One of them, 'Run to the Sun', features vocals of drummer Jani Korpi. This song has a steady uptempo beat and the vocals make it sound like a vintage HAWKWIND rocker. It is OK in its simple honesty but I'm glad the band didn't go further in that direction. The opening track, starting with a rough, low whisper "The ending is just the beginning" is a typical slice of space rock, built on repetitive riffs (comparable to PHARAOH OVERLORD) and at one point decorated with ghostly echoing notes (reminiscent of some moments of e.g. 'Remember the Future' by NEKTAR or 'Echoes' by PINK FLOYD).

The less psychedelic 'Forgotten by Time' has maginificent contributions of great-sounding bass and soloing electric guitar. 'Fresh Avocados' is a brief and lighthearted acoustic number led by mandolin and percussion. 'Skylines at Night' is nice, like meeting an old friend because the sound and certain melodic lines remind me of Signals-era RUSH (that album was among my earliest listenings, by the way). There is a mild progressive unpredictability within the 8-minute length. The prog expectations are biggest on the 17-minute 'The Journey Back Home'. A hurriless tempo... electric guitar weaving its psychedelic-flavoured solos... a change in dynamics... Here and there I feel that the track is lingering in a slightly tiresome jam-like approach, but in the end it is quite interesting and progressive.

This is a good album that shows MOONWAGON still going strong. As usual, the rounding of my 3 stars is based on the design. Can't say I'd like the photos from a brutally decayed house full of junk.

Report this review (#1492322)
Posted Wednesday, November 25, 2015 | Review Permalink
Eetu Pellonpaa
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This third studio album of Moonwagon scribes a completely new kind of entry to their journey's log, their fresh approach on their cosmic conquest of sounds possibly dividing the reception among their fans. The personnel have reduced to trio due departure of their keyboard player, affecting to sound textures by reducing synthesizer presence and similarly giving more space to the bass player Janne Ylikorpi.

When looking to photographs of the band's recent gigs and reading the instrument details from the album booklet, I can't escape associations to Rush's late 70's and early 80's massive stacks of guitars, synthesizers and bass pedals. Like the albums from Rush-era referred focused to "post-apocalyptic" themes, there is also certain dystopic feeling on the whole album, a hint of seriousness when compared to their earlier record's abstract sonic rejoicing. This third album with three musicians seems to resonate with me to mankind's apocalyptic steps culminating to Trinity event, the scenario of final destruction presented most dramatically on the album covers and booklet. I mailed to Joni and asked about this scene, which appeared to be a deserted house with larger space for several activities, now being smashed to pieces by local kids. Later the building got burned to the ground, and somehow this also associates with my understanding of desolation and hardships culminating here in Finland outside the few city centrums with workplaces and universities.

This feeling is also strengthened by the opening verse "The ending is just the beginning", giving hope to the issue as like Petri Walli once wrote, "something new borns when something old dies". I certainly feel the band has reincarnated itself to a much better direction with this album, which I believe was a big enterprise to complete on basis of booklet notes about recordings and mastering. There seems to be more focus also to pleasantly pulsing rhythmic grooves and quite accessible melodic compositions. The psychedelic rock riffs and descending motives enhance the sinister flavor of the recording's infinite patterns, but the music does not grow on sadistic levels. Instead there seems to be some kind of human presence around observing the chaos of reality from the imagination of musician's work, aiming to find repercussive reflections with the listener's feelings. Musically I felt the album on a whole both synthesize the aggressive elements found from their debut record and more ethereal tones of their second album. There are also more psychedelic vibes associating with fresh avocados tasting of Kingston Wall on among the songs, and there are also few tracks with vocals, breaking the silence of space. Also tracks like "Run to The Sun" and "Skylines at Night" have some sort of Hawkwind feeling on them, however without cosmic synth electronics blurring on the background. Joni Tiala has also had currently a very active musical phase, as in addition of Moonwagon works he has released a solo album, toured with folk group Vellamo and also worked on musical projects aimed to young children. I believe this has affected to the width of his musical perception and allowed elements of several styles to be adopted on the sound of this fine album.

As only minor critic I would suggest separating opening intro speaking as their own tracks on the CD's, like was done on The Jimi Hendrix Experience's "Axis: Bold as Love" digital versions do. How important the narrations are to the album wholeness, this kind of reciting might grow tiresome quite fast. This can possibly be just an indication of today's hastiness of listeners, caught to the maelstrom of hectic society. So warmly recommended for enthusiasts of spaced out progressive rock, surfing on waves of psychedelia but not getting lost to too stoned noodling's. I would also suggest keep eye on event's happening at Oulu's Tukiohta; This stellar drinking place for many kinds of underground events gather also psychedelic light shows, interesting art rock bands from Northern Finland also Swedish groups of the scene. I'm uncertain what the future plans of the trio is, but whatever that would be, with this album they close one circle and finish their journey back home with great style.

Report this review (#1523182)
Posted Monday, February 1, 2016 | Review Permalink

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