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3 stars Easy listening from Groovector. Nice acoustic melodies that fold between jazzy and actually calssical melodies and I would say that the classical side is prevalent. Some mystical 70's hammond sound behind makes a fine contrast. Very laid back and mystical atmospheres. Great piano, grand piano and flute playing. Selangor, the fourth track is after an oriental start a bit more rocking with a great guitar solo which is probably actually done with a synth as there is no guitar in the line-up in that song.

This is all the time pleasant music and the players are clearly very skillful but somehow the minimalism leaves a lightwieght feeling. This can be good in a musical world where metal has penetrated even into progressive music. I'll say that this is good ambient classical prog but not essential: 3 stars.

Report this review (#84909)
Posted Thursday, July 27, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Finnish Groovector caught my attention in the "Kalevala Prog Epic" where their instrumental track stood comparison extremely well to the Italian, Swedish or American contemporaries. Now I have listened their debut and can say that it's indeed a band deserving an international audience. They are firmly rooted in the symphonic instrumental progressive rock and the music could be mistaken to come from the seventies. Yet I wasn't totally taken in their music, as ambitious as it is. As a small side notion, the cover art with water tabs does its best to 'water down' the impression (strangely stupid choice for the cover because the leaflet has several better pictures inside), and the nonsense titles such as 'Krawagna' or 'Selangor' really don't help to digest the long-tracked album. Also, I missed some vocals here and there to give the album some variety and spine. I think a female (or male) guest vocalist on couple of tracks would have done miracles.

I was perhaps expecting a more mellow, classically toned album but - maybe this is goodnews for most of you - there is a lot of progressive rock edge and sudden turns in the compositions. I would have left the old-fashioned vibrating organ out. Other thing that was a mild disappointment was the flute which I find somewhat cold here. Flute is usually one of my favourite instruments if it has a certain soft, not-too-high sound. At least the recorder only makes the music worse to me. Nevertheless FOCUS is one of the names to compare Groovector to, here and there also Mike Oldfield (70's) came to mind (I tried to describe Finnish UZVA's album quite the same way). CAMEL, yeah, but not in the same level in enjoyment, not so many majestic melodies in the Camel style. I wish the guitars were more up front.

This album needs many listenings to learn the tracks enough to separate them from each other; all don't have a solid character that would remain in the listener's mind. For me the highlight is the final part, a beautiful short 'Berceuse' is directly followed by a 16,5-minute 'Elegie' which is a gorgeous 24-carat prog composition. Just when the listener thinks "wow, this was pretty good", the track continues with another peak. And another.

This may not be the best album I've heard for a long time, but I'm very pleased to hear this kind of serious and ambitious music in these times of Idols and other stupidities in pop/rock world, and that there still are gifted groups in my country to keep the spirit of the classic prog alive. A shame how unknown they are bound to remain!

Report this review (#116923)
Posted Saturday, March 31, 2007 | Review Permalink
Prog-Folk Team
3 stars Like many Scandinavian albums I have heard, GROOVECTOR's debut provides an aural infusion of midday darkness, directly transmitting the sadness that goes along with S.A.D as only those in the extreme latitudes can do. What is most impressive here is that they do it without vocals, and with a mostly disciplined mix of "Incantations/Platinum" era MIKE OLDFIELD and far flung fusion influences.

The mix of shorter and longer tracks works well too, with highlights coming from the full spectrum. My favourite is "Selangor", which starts with nature sounds and acoustic guitar picking a divine melody. The drums and wailing lead guitars come in next, sometimes double teamed, with nimble drums and mood enhancing keys. When it settles down the theme returns in a deconstructed form on lead, and we realize it never really left. This masterpiece is unfortunately one of a kind on the disk, but the closer "Elegie" ties up the themes presented less precisely on the opening cut, and explores more deeply with woodwinds and keys as well as dramatic flareups on the organ. One of the many strong aspects is how well the mood shifts occur.

While this is for the most part an enjoyable and well thought out album, on a number of occasions I do feel as though I am listening to a group that still has to fully get its act together. Unfortunately, under today's conditions, bands often don't get an opportunity to mature, with obstacles like day jobs and the like. These reservations aside, it's worth plumbing the depths of "Ultramarine".

Report this review (#198557)
Posted Monday, January 12, 2009 | Review Permalink

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