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GROOVECTOR

Eclectic Prog • Finland


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Groovector biography
Finland's GROOVECTOR has existed since 1996 and had two official studio albums: "Ultramarine" (2000) and "Enigmatic Elements" (2003), both being part of the Mellow Records catalog. Their first live album "Darklubing at Tavastia" was issued in 2004, but the recording was made more than two years ago, in January 2002.

Ultramarine (Mellow Records MMP399) is symphonic progressive rock in the 1970's style, and it's not often that today's bands manage to make something this good within that genre. They introduce themselves with 64 minutes of slowly evolving, often mellow, almost cinematic instrumental music, where flute and keyboards weave out enchanting melodies over rich keyboard layers and a rock-steady rhythm section. Groovector's sound is shamelessly retro, especially in the keyboard department where you get Hammond B-3 smears, Fender Rhodes comping and buzzing analog synthesizer solo lines (there is especially one drilling Micro Moog patch that is featured heavily). Electric guitar appears on just two songs to provide bluesy, melodic leads and solos.

If comparisons are required, Focus and, to a lesser degree, Camel would do, largely because of the instrumentation and melodic qualities, but Groovector don't really sound like either of them. In the same way, the lyricism during the more delicate moments (especially the short acoustic guitar piece "Berceuse") might remind of the 70's Italian prog sound, but the at times melancholy, at times rhapsodically bittersweet melodies and impressionistic arrangements bear greater family resemblance to Scandinavian folk (in the way of Bo Hansson, for example) than they do to Mediterranean romanticism.

It looks that the band tend to lock themselves too much on to the mid-to-slow tempo range and that some more lead space could have been assigned to guitars and keyboards instead of the flute to give the music more range; as it is now, the music sounds plodding at places. Still Ultramarine is one of the most interesting and successful takes on old-school symphonic rock in years.

None of these qualifiers applies to Enigmatic Elements (Mellow Records MMP442), which departs significantly from the debut in three respects. First of all, the flautist has left, and the unremarkable performances by the guest saxophonist on half the tracks do not entirely fill the void. Second, low-key vocals have been added to four songs, but they neither distract from nor add any significant ...
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Buy GROOVECTOR Music


Enigmatic ElementsEnigmatic Elements
Import
Dark Matter Distribution 2006
Audio CD$15.99
Darklubing at TavastiaDarklubing at Tavastia
Import
2005
Audio CD$21.99
UltramarineUltramarine
Import
Dark Matter Distribution 2006
Audio CD$15.99
$19.99 (used)

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GROOVECTOR discography


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GROOVECTOR top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.50 | 17 ratings
Ultramarine
2000
3.47 | 10 ratings
Enigmatic Elements
2003

GROOVECTOR Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.05 | 2 ratings
Live At Tavastia
2004

GROOVECTOR Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

GROOVECTOR Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

GROOVECTOR Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

GROOVECTOR Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Enigmatic Elements  by GROOVECTOR album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.47 | 10 ratings

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Enigmatic Elements
Groovector Eclectic Prog

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

3 stars While GROOVECTOR's debut was like MIKE OLDFIELD viewed through the lens of 24 hour darkness, and pretty commendable as such, their followup shoots off on an almost orthogonal trajectory, while still remaining decidedly progressive and engaging.

One of the first surprises is the inclusion of vocals, albeit sparsely, which is good because the lyrics are somewhat trite, but their paucity allows them to perceived more as mantra than dogma, which suits the arrangements just fine. The early CAMEL influence felt on the debut remains in the keyboards of "Remember", but the organ break in "Never Growing Old", my favourite cut, is out of PROCOL HARUM's playbook. A brief piano interlude is followed by a full on elegant melodic lead solo by Rauli Viitala, who has begun the tune with strummed guitar. The album continues strongly with the mystical "First Flakes", just Risto Salmi's saxophone over expressively plucked acoustic guitar, with occasional wistful keyboards. It leads expertly into "Your Light", which is a haunting song in which the mellow vocals alternate with more saxophone, but Teemu Niemela's bass actually overtakes the lead spot and really makes the cut.

For the rest of the album, the group changes direction again, almost as if they didn't have enough compatible material for one album, but at least they finally live up to the jazz/fusion classification, and I'm sure those with more knowledge of the field could site myriad influences, but I keep thinking of some of Andy Latimer's workouts on "Rain Dances"., especially on "Nordic Elements". The title track has a defining melody that I feel I have heard before but can't place. For those into the fusion style, the album closer will probably be the highlight as it features a strong beat, bass, electric piano, and, finally, some ripping lead guitar and sax. It isn't my thing, and it really doesn't play well off the style of the first 4 tracks, or vice versa, which ultimately dampens the overall effect of the album, whatever your preference.

The group's switchover between "side" 1 and 2 is nothing if not enigmatic, which is perhaps what they were getting at, and I adore the first segment, but they seem to have eschewed the most elementary need for cohesion. Still, if you are a fan of both styles and find transitions to be overrated, you should add another star..

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 Ultramarine by GROOVECTOR album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.50 | 17 ratings

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Ultramarine
Groovector Eclectic Prog

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator 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 flairups 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".

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 Live At Tavastia  by GROOVECTOR album cover Live, 2004
3.05 | 2 ratings

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Live At Tavastia
Groovector Eclectic Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars This live album from the Finnish band GROOVECTOR was released between their first and second studio albums. We get over 74 minutes of music from two different shows.The first 4 tracks were recorded in Helinski in 2001, while the last 3 tracks were recorded live in the same place about a year later. The second show was missing their bass player, so the keyboardist played some bass along with his keys. The music from the second show doesn't sound as good as the first one in my opinion. The music itself is a blend of Symphonic and Jazz, with Symphonic being the more prominant of the two. Actually it would be their second studio album where the Jazz flavour really came out fully. The band they seem to get compared to most often (on their debut, and this live album) is CAMEL. Unlike their instrumental debut record this live album has plenty of vocals.

"Into The New World" is an uptempo, catchy song that just sounds great. A calm a minute in as the guitarist plays some lazy melodies. Nice. It starts to build before another calm this time with flute. The vocals before 4 1/2 minutes are very average at best,but the guitar 6 minutes in is outstanding. Another calm with flute 7 minutes in. "Medley : Cirkus + Selanger" opens with a sound that reminds me of LANDBERK and SINKADUS. Not the guitar parts but the keys and flute sections. Reserved vocals after 2 minutes. A fuller sound 2 minutes later with some nice guitar. Tasteful guitar after 7 minutes. More powerful 9 minutes in. Great sound. I like the atmosphere 11 minutes in. Lots of synths 13 1/2 minutes in. Best song so far.

"Berceuse + Elegie" opens with gentle and melancholic guitar melodies. Organ 2 1/2 minutes in. Keys then flute after 4 minutes. Drums after 5 minutes as flute then becomes prominant. The guitar lets loose 15 minutes in. "Haya's Dream" opens with light drums as keys and flute come in. The tempo picks up and guitar comes in. Vocals 3 1/2 minutes in. A jazzy vibe. The flute becomes the prominant instrument once again. After 7 minutes drums and synths lead the way to the end. Nice. "Intro" is mellow with flute and keys throughout. "Never Growing Old" opens with flute as vocals and light drums come in quickly. Guitar before 3 minutes is welcomed. Back to previous melody to end it. "Enigmatic Elements" is the best of the second show. It has a very good melody that is really enjoyable. Themes are repeated in this excellent closer. Jazzy after 4 minutes with a guitar solo to follow. Those average vocals are also present on this one.

There's a lot to like about this album. The flute player who is so active on this live recording would leave before the second studio album.

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 Enigmatic Elements  by GROOVECTOR album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.47 | 10 ratings

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Enigmatic Elements
Groovector Eclectic Prog

Review by armapo

4 stars This album have a very nice feeling for me. I don't love too much the new Prog bands, but this Finnish group plays very well to my ears. It's a lovely sound, very atmospheric sometimes, with a right balance between guitars and synth, but the sax presence emproves some track. On "Rain On" the music grows from a lounge sound to a more intense rock-jazz: great! I think the bass player especially offers a strong performance, like on "Your light" for example, maybe the most brilliant track of the album. Really Groovector show that to play a good Progressive Rock is no need of special effects, but of good technique and great understanding among the musicians.

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 Ultramarine by GROOVECTOR album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.50 | 17 ratings

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Ultramarine
Groovector Eclectic Prog

Review by Matti
Collaborator Neo-Prog Team

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!

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 Ultramarine by GROOVECTOR album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.50 | 17 ratings

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Ultramarine
Groovector Eclectic Prog

Review by pirkka

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.

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