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Uzva - Tammikuinen Tammela CD (album) cover



Jazz Rock/Fusion

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4 stars The title is finnish for "Tammela in January" (Tammela is a small borough in southern Finland). Having suffered several inhumanely icy Januaries in Finland, it is incomprehensible to me that UZVA has chosen such an improper title for a record consisting of so pleasantly warm and uplifting tunes. Or perhaps these melodies were designed to shine during the snowy days the sun doesn't. Nevertheless, this debut is capable of first astonishing, and then amazing me with its complicated yet easy-to-like jazz-prog.

"Intro" is introduced by electric bass, with a swarm of acoustic instruments soon revealing Uzva's elaborate timbre. This lovely piece sets a high standard only to be overshadowed by the following 44 minute suite.

Parts I-V are independent compositions, who together take you to a journey through intriguing backwoods which they scrutinize with a child-like curiosity. The carrying effect lies in the eloquent clarinet, the witty acoustic guitar, the omnipresent electric bass, the incalculable drums and the ethereal violin. Electric guitar makes an occasional visit, during which it remains subtle and refined, reminiscent of MIKE OLDFIELD.

My only criticism is surprisingly aimed at the melodies I hold so dear. The themes often progress impatiently to the other, and it is difficult to get a firm grip of the entity. Every new listen is a new journey where you only see as far as the following curve. Every new listen is a solemn enigma you just quite can't understand. A highly recommended album for those winter evenings you rather stay at home.

Report this review (#32740)
Posted Thursday, April 7, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Uzva are one of the best bands from Finland these days. Their style that mixes folk, jazz, classical and other influences is always a joy to hear. It seems they have taken many influences (Tasavallan Presidentti, Oldfield and many others) but their sound is still pretty much their own. This is their first album and even though most debutes sound quite uneven and not ready yet, this doesn't. This is a very strong debut from start to finish. This IMO perhaps isn't as good as their second album but almost. The overall sound is also quite similar. There's really not much difference between the two. I agree with Eemu, it is really hard to get a firm grip of their music because the themes are always evolving but it doesn't bother me. Uzva's sound is so warm, cozy and pleasant that sometimes it's hard for me to change the disc when the album ends. The music is really mellow most of the time with beautiful violin and clarinet passages. Acoustic guitar is also present most of the time. Uzva have become one of my favorite finnish bands and I would recommend this album basically to anyone who enjoys a beautiful and relaxing album.
Report this review (#32741)
Posted Monday, April 18, 2005 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
3 stars Uzva's debut album is not an easy one to find as it seems that the album was printed in small quantities , most of them sold by now but also it is not well distributed. Thanks to fellow ProgReviewer Jimbo (who even had problems finding it in his home country of Finland), I now have a copy. I can thank him and will return him the favor, if I can someday.

Uzva's debut is an interesting one with full on fusion music (not really in the jazz-rock mode but a little still) meddling classical , folk , a bit of jazz. The music although very pleasant , stays very calm , shall I say almost pastoral , almost fully acoustic , underlined by the cello of Marko Maninnen (ex-Hoyry Koyne) but somehow the music never really takes off. Only in the last track , is there a real hint of energy again one has to wait for the last five minutes. Most of the tracks are strongly influenced in the classical quartet or quintet mode as chamber music.

Although their second album has a similar structure and development , it is by far more interesting mainly because of the energy levels or passions of the musicians is more fulfilling like in almost-similar band from countrymen Alamaailman Vasarat. Although still a good album , I would recommend progheads to start with the second album (if they can ever find this one) and let themselves get carried away with the undeniable charm of this acoustic fusion music.

Report this review (#32742)
Posted Wednesday, May 25, 2005 | Review Permalink
Eetu Pellonpaa
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars One can find very pleasant jazz-fusion pastorals from this disc by the Finnish misty musicians. The whole album works as one instrumental suite, and the tracks dividing different themes have only numbers as their names. The overall sound of this album is acoustic and chamber orchestra like, and there are influences of both classical and pleasant jazz music to be heard here. I would recommend this CD to those who liked early 70's TASAVALLAN PRESIDENTTI and PEKKA POHJOLA, and the jazz stuff of FRANK ZAPPA. The band is a very good live act, so any possible concerts near you are also recommended!
Report this review (#39112)
Posted Monday, July 11, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars As a fan of prog folk I find it hard to place Uzva into that category. I don't mean that I would not like this album, I do. But it is to me more folk jazz and also classical elements are visible. The most enjoyable thing in this record is the recording itself. You don't need to wait for live acts if you have good equipment at home, Uzva will be there also! It's not wonder as the music is recorded by Mĺns Groundstroem, a member of the great prog bands Tasavallan Presidentti and Wigwam (which might also explain the 70's influence in this music) and mastered by Otto Donner, a highly talented musician and co-founder of the finnish record company Love Records. Only weak moment on this album is in the beginning the sound of the violin. It seems that Lari is a bit tense but as the music gets going the playing is just fine.

Report this review (#84936)
Posted Thursday, July 27, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars UZVA hail from Finland and ''Tammikuinen Tamella'' is their debut album...It is a completely instrumental work and comes as a combination of progressive rock,ethnic orientations,chamber music and jazz improvisations...Weird,ha?And that's the way it is...This band has an obsure unique sound which I consider as a plus...Most part of the album is dominated by the bass lines,acoustic guitar work and an intense change of use of instruments like violin,cello,trombone,harmonica and the french horn.This is when AFTER CRYING or even ANGELO BRANDUARDI's early solo works come to mind...But also part of it contains complex progressive/jazz rock reminiscent of GENTLE GIANT or MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA,especially in the closing track ''Part V''...Important notification : This isn't an easy album to listen to! It takes several listenings to appreciate it and it's not an album for every time of the day, a specific relaxing mood is recommended before listenin to it...Anyone who wants to try something really new in the progressive rock field should check UZVA's works out...For me this is a 3.5 star effort, ranging from 2.5 stars to 4.5 dependin on the mood!...
Report this review (#185393)
Posted Sunday, October 12, 2008 | Review Permalink
Retired Admin
4 stars Ewok Canterbury

Taking the back-road into Scandinavia, I've decided to swing round the Baltic sea and head for the majestic forests of Finland. Ever since the early 70s this country has been dishing out a regular swirl of progressive acts - often taking their cue from the psychedelic whims of the Floyd, the avantguarde and perhaps even more so the playful loony-bin energy from the British town of Canterbury. You can hear it in bands like Tasavallan Presidentti, WigWam, Haikara as well as in the eclectic catalogue of bass man Pekka Pohjola. The feel is that of whimsical melodic intonation and roaring galloping fusion.

Uzva too belongs to this Finnish branching of the Canterbury sound. While decisively more influenced by Nordic folk music, you still sense a good whiff of their natural heritage. If you ask me, the combination of the northern folk woof and blazing jerky Brit fusion should've been done a long time ago. Whereas this group would show even more signs of their Canterbury influences in their subsequent releases, the next one even sporting a suite entitled Soft Machine, this is still were it all began, and incidentally also where the lovable northern twist is at it's most audible.

Now don't go ahead thinking this'll have the same manic tempi and brute power of The Softs, because that is certainly not the case. On Tammikuinen Tammela(Man, I'm not typing that again) the Canterbury essence seems to be slowed down to an unhurried dreamy concoction. With all the different traditional folk instruments in play, the moods recall the very nature surrounding it - and why would you make reckless zooming music to portray the vast green carpentry of nature, when you can slow things down to an enigmatic folky steam? Maybe I am not making any sense, but the infusion of violin and cello alters this music and it's otherwise wild locomotion to an infinitely more sensuous and natural sounding entity. I hear deep blue forest lakes, black granite mountain walls, howling owls in trees and a genuine musical adaptation of the light we get up here, that at times gets so white that it feels like it's going to burn straight through your cornea like sunbeams of lava.

You additionally get clarinet, trombone, French horn(Yay!), steel pans, accordion and last but not least acid box(?) to complement the conventional gathering of bass, drums and guitar. With all of this frolicking about in reeds and zany things like steel pans and that acid box, these guys are almost bound to end up in the vicinity of Frank Zappa, and sure they do. Just imagine dear old Franky boy joined by a couple of Ewok musicians after a good healthy dosage of opium.

This album is as relaxing as an autumn breeze - only briefly do you sense a storm front brewing, like on the last track. Otherwise the moods are kept in an alluringly lush folky ambiance that only really shows signs of impending onslaughts by way of the ridiculously twitchy drum-work.

Recommended to Ewoks and people of the jazz forest. Yeah, you know who you are! Remember me for your upcoming winter event, where numerous blind dates with bears are to be won. Count me in - I'll bring this album with me for romance, serenity and peace of mind.

Report this review (#1026481)
Posted Saturday, August 31, 2013 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
3 stars 'Tammikuinen Tammela' - Uzva (58/100)

Uzva's second album Niittoaika ranks among the more promising albums I've heard lately. Although prog fusion is far from alien to most fans of progressive rock, it was the way they brought jazz in with the progressive traditions that made Uzva's sound and style so compelling. Unsurprisingly, the refreshing experience I had with Niittoaika impelled me to explore further into Uzva's relatively small discography. Anyways, here we have it: Tammikuinen Tammela, a debut that released quietly two years prior to its successor at the turn of the millennium. As I expected, the rich arrangements and thoughtfully restrained performances were part of Uzva from an early stage. Unfortunately, in spite of their strong technique and interesting stylistic foundations, Uzva's debut lacks the focus and purposeful momentum that made Niittoaika such a hit with me.

I don't believe I'd be making such a far stretch in calling Tammikuinen Tammela an example of 'lounge prog'; while Uzva are clearly capable of pulling off instrumental complexities of a Gentle Giant or King Crimson nature, they purposefully keep things mellow and light for the most part. Moments like the energetic, clarinet-led opening riff to "Part IV" allude to potential Uzva have yet untapped; for the most part, Tammikuinen Tammela takes the form of a laid-back, largely acoustic interplay between musicians. While Niittoaika and their third record Uoma may be defined (albeit prolematically) as a prog-jazz fusion, Tammikuinen Tammela would be relatively well-placed as chamber rock. Unlike many of the 'chamber rock' acts I'm familiar with (Aranis and Univers Zero, to name a couple), Uzva favour individual expression over rigid composition. Uzva's jazz influences aren't terribly apparent on the debut, but based on the fluid and not always apparent structure of their songwriting, it's not surprising they evolved into a jazzier act later on.

It's conceivable that this loose-yet-richly-layered sort of chamber rock exploration could have worked wonders- potentially even more than the later works which left less up to chance. The technical interplay is certainly here, but Tammikuinen Tammela is held back by how restrained and lacklustre the music often sounds in spite of the obvious technical skill. While dynamic and instrumental fireworks are by no means essential for great jazz, chamber rock or even prog, Uzva's decision to keep things light and meandering is a death knell for the album. It's clear from the harmonies and unison that Uzva composed the music with great care, but the muted energy and consonant harmonies feel hollowed somewhat by the lack of other elements of composition, namely purposeful structure, melodic hooks, a sense of build-up and dynamic. To be fair, there are parts of Tammikuinen Tammela that kick it up a notch (see: the aforementioned intro to "Part IV", or the album's jazz-rock and marimba-infused finale) but it's not enough to put the leisurely parts in context.

Tammikuinen Tammela is a portfolio of some excellent musicianship and talent with harmony-based arrangements. It may have been as engaging as Niittoaika too, if it had anything else to offer on top of that. True to the chamber music tradition, the performance feels amplified and simultaneously limited by the austere composition-based restrictions it places on itself. In the case of Tammikuinen Tammela, it feels like there are inspired performances wanting to get out and place an even greater emphasis on the musicians' individual expression (arguably being the strongest part of Uzva's debut) but it seems the band are torn between letting their spontaneity and dynamism run free, or focusing their structure and performance. As it turns out, with Niittoaika two years later, they chose the latter approach, and haven't looked back since.

Report this review (#1347890)
Posted Sunday, January 18, 2015 | Review Permalink

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