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VIIMA

Prog Folk • Finland


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Finnish band with a very original sound on their first CD, which combines classic Medieval Folk with 70s Progressive Rock, ending up sounding like a mix between MOSTLY AUTUMN, RENAISSANCE and ENYA, very original and very impressive as well. The band sings in their own language, but I do think it is a great thing to finally hear a Finnish band doing something completely different. Especially recommended to fans of 70s Progressive Rock with very nice female vocals and huge keyboardsounds by the way.

REFERENCE:
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Ajatuksia Maailman LaidaltaAjatuksia Maailman Laidalta
CD Baby 2006
Audio CD$16.00
$9.99 (used)
Kahden Kuun SirpitKahden Kuun Sirpit
CD Baby 2009
Audio CD$13.99
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VIIMA discography


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

3.71 | 31 ratings
Ajatuksia Maailman Laidalta
2006
4.01 | 21 ratings
Kahden Kuun Sirpit
2009

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VIIMA Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Kahden Kuun Sirpit by VIIMA album cover Studio Album, 2009
4.01 | 21 ratings

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Kahden Kuun Sirpit
Viima Prog Folk

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

4 stars On `Kahden Kuun Sirpit' the band Viima offers a wonderful collection of expertly played progressive music that is mostly symphonic prog based, but with many classical, folk and occasional slight jazz elements too. At no stage does the band ever sound derivative or clichéd, this album has its own identity and truly stands out. Sometimes brief moments remind a little bit of Camel or Genesis, but the band has more than their share of original ideas to bring to the listener.

This album really is the perfect prog package - wonderful playing, exciting arrangements, great musical variety, beautiful cover. I bought the vinyl edition a few years ago, and the front artwork is fascinating and very striking. Well worth trying to track down on this format, though I'm not sure of its availability anymore.

Viima's singer Hannu Hiltula occasionally sounds a little flat and monotone, but after a few listens his vocals become very interesting, to the point where I think they're among some of the most distinctive and unique that I've heard in my prog collection! While they are a little inconsistent, they do make the band sound quite different, and there are times when he performs extremely well, very grand and emotional. I should also add that his soprano sax and flute playing is first rate throughout too.

Guitarist Mikko Uusi-Oukari steals much of the album. His electric guitar tone sounds so much like David Gilmour's from his early 70's, pre `Dark Side' work in Pink Floyd. His solo in the second half of the instrumental track `Sukellus' is exceptional, as is his slowly unwinding slide guitar solo in the middle of the side-long title track. Outstanding work all around from this talented musician.

Kimmo Lähteenmäki offers a great variety of keyboard sounds throughout the album, but the arrangements never sound over complicated or too busy. In fact, there's such a sense of tasteful restraint and space through the entire album that many other bands could benefit from taking this approach. Plenty of wonderful Mellotron and organ, of course, too!

Both Aapo Honkanen on bass and Mikko Väärälä on drums do some terrific work on the album as well. Lets face it, you don't get rubbish players on prog rock albums!

The albums begins with an almost fanfare sounding track, `Autio Pelto'. Featuring wonderful flute and electric guitar melodies that compliment each other perfectly back and forth, restrained organ adds to the epic sound. At about the three minute mark we hear the vocals for the first time, forceful and powerful. Overall a very striking and captivating theme to open with.

Booming church organ in the first minute of `Unohtunut', very overwhelming. That sound dominates much of this piece. The whole album has many mournful and darker moments such as these, but is constantly complimented by more uplifting musical melodies and arrangements to find a perfect balance. The church organ solo in the middle reminds me a little of the Glass Hammer `Shadowlands' album.

`Sukellus' is a joyous and uplifting instrumental, with a nice variety of keyboards and very low-key and effective Mellotron. The second half features an electric guitar solo with a sound very similar to David Gilmour's early 70's Floyd work. Some terrific sax playing on this one! All of the instruments come together for the majestic finale.

The obligatory `epic' to close the album! The title track is a side long piece, but not a wasted moment or any needless padding, standout moments throughout all of it. Several minutes in the middle feature a beautiful mournful slide guitar solo that is so reminiscent of early 70's Floyd, it's possibly the highlight of the album. The last part of the track features a reprise from the beginning, with a gorgeous searing electric guitar solo to take the album out on a high note, before bringing you back with a soothing Mellotron outro. Perfect way to wrap up the album.

I used to merely think this album was simply decent, nothing more, but as I've had it for a few years now and given it repeated listens, it's grown on me immensely, and I enjoy it more each time, discovering new details with each additional listen. As usual, it's the albums that don't grab you straight away, that you have to commit to listening to over and over, that prove to be the most rewarding. When I gave it the most recent listen, I realised after all this time just what a terrific piece of music it is, and a well deserved addition to any serious prog lovers collection. The players in the band Viima should be hugely proud of this work, and I hope we get a follow up album from them in the future.

My fellow friend from the Prog Archives Tom Ozric recently brought up this album in conversation, and he sort of matter-of-factly mentioned "You know, that Viima album we bought years ago.....might actually be a bit of a total classic..." I think he might be on to something there...

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 Ajatuksia Maailman Laidalta by VIIMA album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.71 | 31 ratings

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Ajatuksia Maailman Laidalta
Viima Prog Folk

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars Viima started in 1999 in Turku as Lost Spectacles, led by three members of the later Psych/Folk band Kosmos, singer Päivi Kylmänen, keyboardist/drummer Kimmo Lähteenmäki and guitarist/flutist Mikko Uusi-Oukari.With two more members on bass and guitars they covered Matti Järvinen's track "Tuulee Niin" for the 2001 ''Tuonen Tytär'' compilation by Mellow Records.The following years the band suffered from come's and go's on the bass and drums positions, eventually residing on Jarmo Kataja for the bass duties, while Lähteenmäki handled both the drums and keys.In 2006 the band's debut ''Ajatuksia maailman laidalta'' is released privately under the Viima name, featuring three new and three older and remixed compositions.

Viima play some sort of Symphonic-Folk Rock with minor psychedelic influences and bands like CAROL OF HARVEST, REBEKKA and WHITE WILLOW are the first reasonable comparisons.The overall atmosphere is mellow and calm despite the constant use of electric guitars.Viima rather head for balanced, careful-played Progressive Rock with elaborate melodies and dreamy instrumental sections than delivering something too complicated and excessive.The keyboard work of Lähteenmäki is a strong point and dominates the album, featuring moog synths, mellotron, harpsichord, church organ and piano, thus adding to the album a heavy vintage flavor.The guitar work is mostly melodic with evident CAMEL influences.CAMEL appear to be a great influence for the band also in the flute parts.However the acoustic passages have a melancholic tune, typical of Scandinavian bands, while female vocalist Päivi Kylmänen has a steady and clear voice.Do not expect to hear some fascinating musicianship by Viima.The members of the band are clever enough to focus on their strongest advantages, which are the delicate harmonies, the folk atmospheres and the vintage prog aesthetics.

A great Finnish surprise and a decent Prog/Folk file next to the likes of bands of the style with evident symphonic leanings.Warmly recommended, even more if you are after acts like EDEN, REBEKKA, WURTEMBERG, CAROL OF HARVEST, WERWOLF or CREDEMUS. ..3.5 stars.

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 Kahden Kuun Sirpit by VIIMA album cover Studio Album, 2009
4.01 | 21 ratings

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Kahden Kuun Sirpit
Viima Prog Folk

Review by Matti
Collaborator Neo-Prog Team

4 stars This sounds quite different than their more folky debut with another line-up including a female vocalist. But I'm happy to find out this is not a disappointment at all, even if the vocals (by Hannu Hiltula who also plays sax and flute) are not any special. Emotion comes primarily from the music, and Hannu's commonplace baritone vocals do fit in very well. Lyrically this album is a clear improvement over the rather naiive debut, partly thanks to using poetry of respected classic Finnish poets Uuno Kailas and Aaro Hellaakoski (from early 20th century) on two first tracks. The long epic sharing the album's title is written by the drummer Mikko Väärälä (I hope I'm getting these details right out of my memory!) and its lyrics seemed quite fine though I don't memorize anything of them now. Anyway, the emphasis all the way is on the music, not vocals, rather the same way as with CAMEL, one of the bands VIIMA is repeatedly compared with.

This music full of soaring melancholic melodies in very progressive compositions (but where complexity never gets self-poignant), is almost guaranteed to please the friends of the classic 70's prog from England or Scandinavia. Finnish comparisons could be TABULA RASA and NOVA, but especially Swedish KAIPA's debut from 1975 came to my mind. The sound - both instruments and vocals - is quite similar, and why not the atmosphere too. All these comparisons don't mean VIIMA would merely circulate vintage prog sounds. And so what if they did, they do it excellently, without copying any band in particular. Yes, this music really could date from the seventies, and in my opinion this is a good thing these times, when too many prog bands get heavier. I hope this group stays around. (A definite 4½ stars if there was such an option!)

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 Ajatuksia Maailman Laidalta by VIIMA album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.71 | 31 ratings

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Ajatuksia Maailman Laidalta
Viima Prog Folk

Review by BrufordFreak

4 stars Is a brilliant prog folk album from these Finnish rockers. Fronted buy a female singer, (Päivi Kylmänen) all the lyrics are sung in Finnish. The opener, "Leihonan Syksy" (6:27) (8/10) sounds like a dead ringer for a Finnish "Living in the Past." The title song is at times a bit bland, at times a bit too folksy, but still a solid song. "Ilmalaiva Italia" (5:59) (9/10) is a mellow tune with some simple but great musical support to some awesome vocal harmonies. "Meri" (7:57) (9/10) is great throwback to CURVED AIR's "Marie Antoinette" with great electric guitar substituting for David Cross' violin. "Luuttomat" (5:56) (8/10) starts as a gorgeous acoustic guitar vocal & flute folk song before switching gears to electric guitar and saxophone. The finale, "Johdatus" (9:31) (9/10) again shows a lot of similarities to CURVED AIR, musically, but especially in the lead vocalist's sounds and stylings. The piano-based, classically-tinged second section and the electric guitar play in the eighth minute are both highlights for me.

A solid four star classic.

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 Ajatuksia Maailman Laidalta by VIIMA album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.71 | 31 ratings

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Ajatuksia Maailman Laidalta
Viima Prog Folk

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars When I first started listeneing to this it sounded like your typical Scandanavian Folk band with a female vocalist. The fact she sings in her own Finnish language is kind of cool but really i'm not big on Prog-Folk to begin with so...so after 3 minutes on the first track comes this electric guitar solo that has me begging for more, and guess what ? There's plenty more where that came from. Add to that the flute and sax and this album completely won me over.

"Leijonan Syksy" opens with rain and thunder before these female vocals with acoustic guitar take over. Synths flood in before 3 minutes. Nice. Then that guitar solo I like so much follows. Just gorgeous. Vocals are back before 5 1/2 minutes then another guitar solo before 6 minutes. "Ajatuksia Maailman Laidalta" opens with guitar then the female vocals take over with a pleasant melody. Piano after a minute. Guitar before 4 minutes. Synths late followed by vocals. Organ ends it. It sounds like church organ actuially,quite powerful.

"Ilmalaiva Italia" opens with relaxed sounds as reserved vocals join in. Check out the guitar after 2 1/2 minutes that comes out of nowhere and starts to light it up for a prolonged period of time. Nice. A calm after 4 1/2 minutes as the original soundscape returns. "Meri" opens with the sounds of waves as acoustic guitar and vocals join in. The electric guitar after 1 1/2 minutes is brief. Organ before 3 1/2 minutes. Flute 5 minutes in followed by more electric guitar. Vocals are back then the waves end it. "Luuttomat" features flute and acoustic guitar early as reserved vocals join in. Sax comes in before 2 minutes and later at 4 minutes. Good song. "Johdatus" is the longest track at 9 1/2 minutes. Drums and keyboards to start.It picks up some when the vocals join in. Piano before 5 minutes followed by the guitar that starts to solo. I like it. Piano is back 8 1/2 minutes in.

This is so well done from beginning to end, a well deserved 4 stars.

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 Kahden Kuun Sirpit by VIIMA album cover Studio Album, 2009
4.01 | 21 ratings

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Kahden Kuun Sirpit
Viima Prog Folk

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Captivating sophomore effort from this Finnish outfit.

Apparently a more folk-oriented act on their debut album, a more or less total change of crew have also resulted in a different approach on this follow-up.

Vintage sounding progressive rock is the main result; dominated by symphonic elements but also bborrowing a fair few elements from folk, classical and jazz. In overall sound Camel often comes to mind - that is the parts of their production with a jazz and folk tinge rather than the ones with a more mainstream oriented sound - and in the most majestic moments there's also a fair likeness to Genesis (from the era long before they admitted not to be able to dance mind you).

The closing epic, which also covers about half the length of this production, is the one with less obvious influences to it though. Organ and mellotrons aplenty see to it that the sound is distinctly vintage though; and the overall scope of the composition is tangibly more symphonic than the rest of this excursion.

In short - those who appreciate symphonic prog as it was made in the 70's better put this one one their shortlist of stuff to check out.

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 Kahden Kuun Sirpit by VIIMA album cover Studio Album, 2009
4.01 | 21 ratings

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Kahden Kuun Sirpit
Viima Prog Folk

Review by avestin
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Viima releases in 2009 their second album, Kahden Kuun Sirpit (Two Crescents), with a new lineup in which only two members are left from the previous album. The new people in the band are drummer Mikko Väärälä, vocalist flutist and saxophonist Hannu Hiltula and bassist Aapo Honkanen. Continuing from the first album is keyboard player Kimmo Lähteenmäki. The album contains four songs, one instrumental piece (Sukellus) and an epic title track. This title track is about the history of the city of Turku (where the band rehearses) and also about an individual's life in the city. As the band sings in Finnish, it is a welcome gesture that the booklet has translation into English of the lyrics alongside the original Finnish version.

We start with Autio Pelto which resonates the sound of the previous album with its charming flute in the foreground and the guitar backing it up while the keyboards administers a soothing background base line to support its "comrades". The folk elements are still here (though to a lesser extent than the previous album) continuing the "sympholk-prog" style of the previous album, though this time it sounds less cheerful than before, but as rich sounding. Gone are the female vocals of Päivi Kylmänen and enter the male vocals of Hannu Hiltula. This is to me unfortunate as I thought her vocals were superb and gave much life and vitality to the music. It could have added a great deal here, supplying another layer of delightful vocal layer to the mix. Hannu's vocals, while doing the job well, are in places somewhat weak, as in the last song, the title track Kahden Kuun Sirpit (around the two minute mark, where he sings almost without backing instruments but as for the rest of the song it's fine). But overall, he does a pretty good work. In addition he does a fine work playing the flute and saxophone.

The music is beautiful and emotional-sounding; it is not over the top and doesn't get too sophisticated but it is sufficiently intricate and very captivating to have me listen to it attentively and repeatedly. One point where it gets quite dynamic and thrilling is in Unohtunut, towards the end of the fifth minute where a lightning effect springs in and the guitar gets more vocal than usual and yet even here restraint is noticeable as the pace doesn't pick up and they could have gone for a very loud segment, but instead remain faithful to their style. Not to say they don't get loud enough; certainly there are peaks in the music and high points reached but these climaxes sound carefully controlled to me. On a different note, Viima continues to provide attractive melodies and develop them nicely, shifting slightly to introduce it from different sides, adding layers to it in the form of playing it differently or adding instruments. A good example is the third track Sukellus. This track, an instrumental piece, has a gorgeous transition in its middle and on the other side it becomes another gorgeous theme in which the saxophone played by Hiltula has a spellbinding lead line, which is then picked up by the guitar. This track reminded me of Camel for some reason (as did parts of their previous album); perhaps the way the guitar is played and its mellow sound and the soothing effect the music has on me. The title track, an ambitious piece of almost twenty three minutes shows Viima's strong 70's symphonic prog influence while introducing elements of fusion alongside what some might call "experimental" approach, but to me is them trying new ways to enrich their sound (this is only found in the beginning of the song). This song also features a string quartet that adds to the attractiveness of this piece. The song becomes minimalistic sounding at times with a few instruments playing at the same time. I feel that here a combination of vocalists would have done wonders to make this sound better: a high-pitched vocalist and a low-pitched one. But aside from that, the music itself is magnificent; going from quiet and as mentioned minimalistic sounding, to rich and surrounding. This piece requires repeated listening to absorb it all and to follow its multi-part structure. Overall, it's a fine accomplishment, but I wish there were more dynamic and faster segments in here. As for the music itself, the melodies are, as usual, compelling and spacious and the musicianship as good. The climax at minute twenty one is highly emotional and evocative. This is one thing that Viima excels at.

A fine album that I enjoy listening to and come back for more; different somewhat than the previous one, but carries on with many of the elements and sounds found there and builds on that to create a new listening experience in this album. Gorgeous melodies are abundant, beautiful instrumental passages, rich sounding and day-dream inducing. Recommended.

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 Ajatuksia Maailman Laidalta by VIIMA album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.71 | 31 ratings

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Ajatuksia Maailman Laidalta
Viima Prog Folk

Review by avestin
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Viima's Sympholk

Wonderful, melodic music this album entails. Peaceful and lovely female vocals are enhanced by the delicate flute; but there is no lack of propulsion in the music. On the other hand, there's a good amount of vibrancy and vitality mixed with well done compositions and high level musicianship. There is a "joix de vivre" sensation throughout the album. Not only that, but great warmth emanates from the music. The music is elevating and inspirational.

With the fabulous vocal harmonies come wonderful keyboard playing, guitar solos and "painting" by the flute. The second song, Ajatuksia maailman laidalta, is a wonderful example of just that. An uplifting melody that is improved by the band's use of contradiction of the guitars and keyboards, each giving an somewhat opposing mood that blend in together very well. This song also shows how their compositional skills are good since it is very easy to make this music boring and yet this is a very captivating piece of music that is quite varied and very compelling. There is no use of bombastic tricks in here, everything flows perfectly and feels very natural. The third track, Ilmalaiva Italia, can fool you with its peaceful calm beginning. But then in the middle it turns rock on you and starts blasting out, with regards to the criteria of this record. A great keboards and guitar soloing goes on until the song goes back to its initial pace.

I won't go into the other songs but they are as wonderful as the ones I mentioned. This is another feat of this album; the high level kept throughout this release. In the end, it's not only the beauty of this music that is captivating, and the excellent playing that goes on; it's also the variety they show in their songs, whether in the structure of the songs or in the moods that change within them.

While I wouldn't compare it necessarily to Renaissance (perhaps it's the singer's voice that brings this up), it is not that misleading; however a good pinpoint would be a "folklorized" Camel and Mostly Autumn is also a fair allusion to make.

This is a sympholk gem that I highly recommend grabbing.

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 Ajatuksia Maailman Laidalta by VIIMA album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.71 | 31 ratings

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Ajatuksia Maailman Laidalta
Viima Prog Folk

Review by Matti
Collaborator Neo-Prog Team

4 stars I was very eager to get this album to my hands after reading about it. A Finnish language prog album by a new promising band with a female singer! My expectations were high, but I'm not disappointed, even if it maybe wasn't the absolutely best thing I've heard lately. First I must say that labeling this as Prog Folk is not the whole story. It could at least almost pass as Symphonic Prog too, as it leans very faithfully on the 'classic' prog of the seventies. Here it tastes like CAMEL, there you get some JETHRO TULL (especially the opener), and even a RUSH-like fast instrumental part cuts through a peaceful track ('Ilmalaiva Italia'). Comparisons to RENAISSANCE and mOSTLY AUTUMN are also acceptable. The style of Neo Prog is present too. It all comes together very nicely. They sound fairly original despite all the associations to legendary bands.

The key members are two men who both play two different instruments (keyboards+drums/ guitars+flute) and compose most of the music. Unfortunately the lineup of Viima seems quite unsettled; changes have occurred before this debut and I've read that the singer Päivi Kylmänen has left the band. A pity: her voice may be a bit clumsy technically but it's autumnally fresh.

One can see already by looking at the track lengths (and that there's only six of them) that they really take their progressiveness seriously and put a lot of effort to their music. There's no weak track, each one has melodic and sonic richness that keep the listening experience fresh and exciting for many rounds, or so I hope at this point (2-3 listenings). And this is only their debut! I deeply wish that Viima grow to be a major act in Finnish prog scene. The lyrics are thoughtful and slightly naiive perhaps, but no complaining. If you want a non-English language prog album with finely crafted music in the melodic style of Camel and with a folkish touch à la Jethro Tull, this is what you've been waiting for.

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 Ajatuksia Maailman Laidalta by VIIMA album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.71 | 31 ratings

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Ajatuksia Maailman Laidalta
Viima Prog Folk

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

4 stars One reason I tend to prefer prog from non Anglo countries is that I have a great love of world music and find that it often incorporates well into the bands from afar, at least from my prespective. Certainly this is not always the case, and sometimes only the vocals sound foreign, but, in Viima's debut, the influence of Finnish folk music on the overall symphonic sound is readily discernible. Excellent female vocals and classic progressive instrumentation including flute, along with some arrangements that make the hair stand on end, are everywhere on this album.

One comparison I can think of would be early Camel instrumentally, and there is certainly a Camel vibe throughout, both in guitars and organs. I had also heard comparisons to Mostly Autumn, but find Mikko Uusi-Oukari's guitar style a lot less diffuse than that of Bryan Josh, and the folk element of Vima is more sprinkled throughout the disk whereas with Mostly Autumn it tends to dominate or be virtually absent. I would expect that experts on the Scandinavian axis could cite others, although early White Willow did come to mind in a few places.

My favourite remains the opener, "Leijonan syksy", with its delicate pastoral theme on string sounding keys followed by a spiritual lead guitar solo being the absolute highlight. "Ajatuksia Maailman Laidalta" bares the Scandinavian roots a bit more, while "Meri" features more gorgeous lead guitar and keyboard interchanges with Päivi Kylmänen's singing the perfect compliment. "Luuttomat" starts off with vocals, flute and acoustic guitars not entirely unlike some of White Willow's early material but more overtly folky. These segments alternate brilliantly with a more ominous rhythmic guitar/saxophone theme. This album is not flawless, as "Illmalaiva Italia" shows a certain lack of maturity in its handling of shifting moods, and the closer "Johdatus" does drag a little, but even in the weaker moments, Viima shows that they have successfully incorporated ancient and modern themes into a distinctive style. Highly recommended.

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