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Vimma - Meri ja Avaruus CD (album) cover



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5 stars I hadn't heard of this Finnish band when I borrowed their album from a library two weeks ago. I was charmed by the unique, eclectic blend of their music, and knew at once I'll push them into the PA database. Thanks for the fast process, Prog Folk team! Since I wrote the band bio including an overall music description, I'll go straight to the tracks of this debut album. BTW, because the booklet contains both the Finnish lyrics and their English translations, for your convenience I use the translated track titles here.

'Preludium' is a beautiful solo piano piece with a romantic and impressionistic elegance. Although the line-up info mentions only violin as the instrument of the main composer Pessi Jouste, he's the performer of this piece, according to the booklet. Jouste's next 6-minute composition 'Sunlight Cannot Reach Here' marvelously reveals VIMMA's Eclectic Folk Prog diversity. Mostly instrumental, it reminds me of the Folk Fusion of JUHA KUJANPÄÄ, sounding more progressive in comparison. At 4:47 the female vocalist Eeva Rajakangas starts reading the poem and the music gradually disappears from the background. "We should not have started a war against the nature" is the final line. The album's lyrics are primarily dealing with the critical state of our planet and the fatal greed and ignorance of mankind, but despite being angry at times, I think they are fairly interesting poetry nevertheless.

On 'Cadenza' Pessi Jouste is soloing on violin. Stylistically reminiscent of old composers such as Bach, Vivaldi and Paganini -- but luckily it's not a fast virtuoso number à la Paganini! 'The Eighth Day' features a very intense poetry performance backed by a sharply dynamic musical arrangement, and this is where VIMMA steps into the RIO/Avant Prog territory. Fans of that subgenre will be impressed, although I fully understand if the poetry dominance puts off some listeners. 'A Planet' is composed by the group's pianist Aino Kallio. The vocal delivery is this time better woven into the music which moves from piano centred angular jazz to violin-fronted progressive rock.

On '8.0' (no idea about the meaning of the title) the repetitive poetry performance has a hip-hop flavour while the music is tonally very rich Folk Prog/Fusion. On the hard rocking part especially the drummer Vilho Louhivuori shines. 'A Story' is composed by the bassist Ansku Mellanen. Vocalist-lyricist Eeva Rajakangas proves she also handles the melodic, more ordinary singing with her nice voice. As a prog song this would be a suitable calling card from the album, combining the band's avantgarde side and the more melodic side excitingly. My personal favourite may be the final track 'Water' composed by reeds player Jaakko Arola. For the vocals this is the most melodic of songs, and the composition shifts beautifully between Tull-reminding rhythmic complexity and lyrical serenity.

Upon my initial listening I was admittedly reserved especially for the non-singing poetry performance, but gracefully the album gets more melodic towards the end. The playing is excellent, the instrumentation so rich, and on the scale of uniqueness VIMMA are surely worth the praise. What the hell, I give a full rating!

Report this review (#2902292)
Posted Tuesday, March 28, 2023 | Review Permalink
4 stars This group presents here many facets, and one of the main is prog-folk. That doesn't mean that this work is bland, predictable and/or too soft. By the contrary. Harmonies, path and structures are almost always surprising. And as on 4th and 6th tracks both instruments and vocalist gets more agressive. They also use elements from jazz, rock, chamber music and even some jazzy blues. Another feature that collaborates for there singularity are the vocals, sometimes narrated, many times truly emotive, and sometimes slightly dissonant. Very rich, and for that I give my first score - 4.9.

The drummer is also astonishing - 4.6

Be prepared to here a huge amount of violin, on all the tracks. Fortunately with an incredible diversity: fingered, as on the beginning of 2nd track. As a chamber instrument on some tracks. With irish tunes, as on the 7th song. There's even a track that is performed only by him - the 3rd.

Now I'll tell about the introduction. I love when the group finds an outstanding tune and decides to start it on piano solo. When they begin the album this way, they really capture my heart. And Vimma performs it so gentle, soft but also with intriguing double tempos, that it stands as one of the highlights of this disc.

I don't give them 5 stars or a note close to that because of two errors (for my taste and audition): the decision to give such great space to the violin most of the time is the best decision; but sometimes its tunes aren't so amazing. Other thing: some instruments make great contributions, but have too little space on the album. Examples: guitar, piano and clarinet.

A strong 4.4 stars.

Report this review (#2938410)
Posted Sunday, July 9, 2023 | Review Permalink
Prog-Folk Team
3 stars And while I'm on the subject of how certain groups ever slipped past us and into prog folk, um, it has occurred to me that sometimes we decide they definitely should be somewhere in the database, and, when all the longhairs from fusion, eclectic and RIO say nay, presto they become a prog folk group. Welcome VIMMA (not to be confused with another more easily categorized prog folk outfit also from Finland named VIIMA, oy), meaning "Frenzy", and thank you Matti!

On their debut which translates to "Sea and Space" the blend is somewhere between jazz fusion and world music with classical meanderings in between. Because VIMMA wants to impart morals of importance to them, they sometimes choose to do so in the sultry spoken words of Eeva Rajakangas, and always in the mother tongue. This makes some of the tracks less penetrable to those few of us with limited connections to the Finnish language, but I also note that the best of these are so relatable musically that she could be expounding on any subject in any language and I would follow her. In particular, "Sunlight cannot reach here" recalls the blind harpist O'CAROLAN via the wonders of early CLANNAD with piano replacing the harp, and the mesmerizing "8.0" magically fits anyone who can walk, and maybe a few who thought they couldn't, with dancing shoes for 7 celebratory minutes of fiddle, mouth music, piano, bouncy rhythms, and even guitar crunches. If only it didn't stop. Also worth mentioning are the winds of Jaakko Arola which here and in other tracks recalls a long departed Breton group TI JAZ.

Singular this certainly is, and at its best VIMMA's execution is stunning, but that's not quite often enough to raise their first album to the next level, leaving space for improvement.

Report this review (#2981809)
Posted Thursday, January 11, 2024 | Review Permalink

VIMMA Meri ja Avaruus ratings only

chronological order | showing rating only
  • 4 stars Gordy (El Gringo del Mundo) SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Folk/Eclectic/PSIKE/Metal Teams
  • 5 stars dannyb

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