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ONSÉGEN ENSEMBLE

Heavy Prog • Finland


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Onségen Ensemble picture
Onségen Ensemble biography
ONSEGEN ENSEMBLE are a Finnish trio with an extended line-up of players. They do driving guitar-based hard rock with tight dynamics, unexpected tempos and shifts, surprising purity and occasional Finnish chanting. The partnership of bassist Esa JUUJARVI and drummer Veijo PULKKINEN goes back to 1993 in goth-metal band PARADE OF SOULS. That year JUUJARVI joins BLACK CRUCIFIXION which becomes more progressive PROMETHEAN, and releases 'Gazing the Invisible' (1997) and 'Somber Regards' (1998). By '98, PULKKINEN has recruited JUUJARVI for RAUTAKANKI, eventually beginning their own project in 2004 when guitarist Kimmo NISSINEN is drafted.

15-minute EP 'Hiukkavaara Sessions' was relesed in 2005 to encouraging reviews and 2007 saw their follow-up, 'HottoïzzoH', garnering even better responses.

A good representative of the current movement in prog rock toward straight-forward garage band sounds, unassuming and genuine but with high musicianship all around.


-- Atavachron (David) --




Why this artist must be listed in www.progarchives.com :
Small but solid band doing inventive things on the heavier side of Prog.



Discography:
Hiukkavaara Sessions, studio album (EP, 2005)
HottoïzzoH, studio album (EP, 2007)

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ONSÉGEN ENSEMBLE discography


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

3.83 | 12 ratings
Awalaï
2016
3.73 | 15 ratings
Duel
2018
3.90 | 20 ratings
Fear
2020

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

ONSÉGEN ENSEMBLE Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

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

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

3.96 | 4 ratings
Hiukkavaara Session
2005
3.81 | 5 ratings
HottoïzzoH
2007

ONSÉGEN ENSEMBLE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Fear by ONSÉGEN ENSEMBLE album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.90 | 20 ratings

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Fear
Onségen Ensemble Heavy Prog

Review by nick_h_nz
Collaborator Prog Metal Team

4 stars [Originally published at The Progressive Aspect]

For all the great bands of Norway and Sweden, I often think it's a shame that neighbouring Finland seems to miss out on similar acclaim. If anything, I find many of the Finns make far more eclectic and experimental sounds, and draw from quite different inspirations. Bands from Norway and Sweden invariably sound Western, but Finland often has as much of an Eastern sound. Onségen Ensemble definitely seem to incorporate a little of both, but even when comparing to bands from the West, they are all over the musical map. Morricone and Magma meet Tool and Tusmørke in a psychedelic indulgence of Eastern mysticism. It's trippy space rock that is less Komische than Khanate or Carnatic. The band present and perform a series of epic and mystical enigmas. It's best not to dwell too much on what you're listening to and just ride the wave where it takes you.

Apparently this is the third album from the ever-changing Ensemble, and if the previous two are as high a quality as Fear, then they will be well worth checking out. I've definitely made a mental note to do so, when I have a chance. (I'm not sure when that will be, as I'm still working my way through a long list of releases from this year I still want to hear, let alone diving into the past.) The most odd thing about this release, though, is not the music but why the album is titled Fear. Of all the emotions I might feel when listening to this album, fear is not one. Even when the music evokes striding forth into the unknown, it is with confidence and swagger. There is no fear.

What really makes this album special for me comes in just after a minute-and-a-half. Until this point, the rich rumble of stoner goodness is quite lovely but when a trumpet cuts through the atmosphere, I was initially dumbstruck. It's an instrument I never expected to hear, and by crikey, it sounds good! Every appearance of the instrument on this album adds so much to the tone and texture of what are already amazing soundscapes. The choral chanting is another masterpiece, and perfectly placed in the mix. In fact, the mix is absolutely wonderful, with everything exactly where it needs to be, so that the focal point is where the band wants at any one time. It makes the music a pleasure to listen to, time and time again. The seven-odd minutes of opening number Non- Returner are over in what seems no time at all. I had to check that I had read correctly, and that the track was indeed seven-and-a- half minutes long. As I said, this is music to be swept away by, and time and space are exposed for the wibbly, wobbly concepts they are. They have no meaning here.

Generally speaking, vocals (other than wordless vocalisations) are sparse on Fear, the only lyrics to the following track, Stellar, are an incomplete quotation from The Gateless Gate, a well-known collection of teaching stories. They are delivered in a potent and powerful fashion, and provide moments of heightened intensity. About three minutes before the song ends is a passage so exultant, I'm not sure I've ever managed to listen to this without movement of some part of my body to the insistent rhythm. And, of course, that trumpet. The track has been building to this throughout, and it's just wonderful when it comes. Stellar climaxes with one more refrain of the sole lyric, before slipping quietly out to the same ambient folk sounds that introduced it.

Over the length of the seven compositions on Fear (the shortest is just over five minutes), my mind never wanders. Or, at least, it wanders where the music takes me, because the mind is encouraged to wander, but I never lose focus, nor interest. Not that I've ever had one, but the closest analogy I can draw is to an out-of-body experience ? at least as I've read it feels like ? where you remain attached and aware of where your body is, but outside it. The music has a hypnotic effect, so that no matter how repetitive much of the music is, it draws in, rather than pushes away. There is no room, nor time, for boredom. The kaleidoscopic effect of the brass, choir and some truly nifty percussion, that is liberally added to the mix only further draws me in. When Earthless segues into the title track, it's through such percussion.

And Fear. Fear. What can I say about Fear? The title track is so startlingly good, I'm not sure anything I can say can reflect how enjoyable it is. It reminds me a little of the music of Indukti, a Polish band who like Onségen Ensemble are mostly instrumental, and inspired by the sounds of both the West and the East. And I absolutely love Indukti, so that comparison from me is high praise indeed. I'm wary of drawing inferences, or attempting to guess what the underlying concept of the album. The particular Zen couplet used in Stellar is warning enough, as it is a caution not to think one's own insight exceeds another. And yet, I can't help but think this is an album about death, and a celebration of life in defiance of death. Hence Fear, and why I can hear no fear within Fear. Fear of death is probably a common fear, and yet you cannot fear death, when you celebrate life. Perhaps I am predisposed to think this way, because I have recently been enjoying Astrolabe's Death: An Ode to Life. Perhaps I am hearing something that isn't there. And yet?.?

Regardless of what Fear as an album is about, Fear the song is a centrepiece of some distinction. I love every song on this album, and Fear rises high above them all. You might then think, after such heights, I might be disappointed by what follows. Far from it. Very cleverly, Onségen Ensemble do not attempt to compete with Fear, and provide a distinctly different sound for Sparrow's Song, which for the first half is sparse, expansive and minimalist. As light and fragile as a sparrow, I guess. It makes for a great surprise when the piece picks up pace in the second half, and introduces new instrumentation and vocalisations. It's another track that ends too soon for me, and I wish the Sparrow could sing for me a little longer. I can't help but think that the use of a sparrow only further adds to my theory of the concept of the album, given it is widely believed to be a harbinger of death.

The Sparrow's Song, while not particularly jaunty, is positively spritely and chirpy compared to the Lament of Man that follows it. This track is the closest the album comes to representing fear, but even here it doesn't seem present so much as a dour (dare I say funereal) acceptance of something inevitable. Sure enough, Google translates the sole lyrics as something along the lines of "I look at the fire ? the inevitable judgment". I don't really know the Bible, as I've never been a believer, but I'm pretty sure there's something about God's final judgement involving literal and symbolic fire. That said, those lyrics do not appear in the first part of the Lament that sounds like a lament, but in the ensuing chaos that the track descends into. It sounds more like someone fighting their judgment, rather than awaiting it. It's no longer a lament, but a labour; no longer a cry, but a confrontation, and by the climax, a celebration. There is no doubting the jubilant nature of the closing minutes.

When I write my reviews, I tend to do so as a stream of consciousness on my first listen. I put those notes to one side, and pretend they don't exist, and I listen again without doing anything but listening, I'll do that time and time again, without worrying about writing a review, and listening to all manner of other things (including other albums I'm reviewing), until such time comes that I'm listening and realise I'm ready to write. I'll listen from the start again, and write more notes. Then I'll go back to my first notes, and see what I can piece together from these two experiences (one when the album is totally novel, and one when I know it well). Why am I telling you this? Because in this instance, I decided I didn't care for my newer observations, and that my initial thoughts were those most pertinent.

I came to that realisation when recalling the jolt I felt when I first came to the final track, Satyagrahi. Reading the lyrics as I was listening to them being sung, I realised my gut feeling had been roughly accurate. The key lyrics for me were the couplet "The only way to have peace is to live it" (which is fairly self-explanatory), and "The only way to have an unarmed world is to live unarmed", which seems to hark back to the caution from Zen Buddhism in Stellar. Ultimately, we are all Non-Returners. It's up to us to either fear that inevitable outcome, or have peace by celebrating living. Even if this year life hasn't felt much worth celebrating, it's worth remembering that being alive is better than the alternative. And Fear is a life-affirming album that's well worth listening to.

 Fear by ONSÉGEN ENSEMBLE album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.90 | 20 ratings

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Fear
Onségen Ensemble Heavy Prog

Review by prog_traveller!!

4 stars Onsegén Ensemble third album Fear is a real surprise for me. Released in 2020 this album will take you to a whole new side of prog rock. The stile of the band delivers so many interesting moments and it's really hard to determine where they belong, but the closest thing for me is to say that they are psych space band with great influences of heavy prog.

The album mainly delivers a guitar, bass and drum sound with trumpets, chanting, and light singing abound and it's all combined brilliantly.

It consists of seven songs and they all make this album a fantastic, intelligent and strange voyage. Filled with Eastern and western influences it gives multi layered performance pieces, a real joy to listen.

To chose one song is not possible it is really one grand peace of music that takes you from hard and heavy to ambient place in between.

 Fear by ONSÉGEN ENSEMBLE album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.90 | 20 ratings

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Fear
Onségen Ensemble Heavy Prog

Review by Rivertree
Special Collaborator PSIKE Team & Band Submissions

4 stars This is their third full-fledged album, released via Svart Records. The ONSÉGEN ENSEMBLE is a band hailing from Finland that has experienced rather lively line up changes during the past. And in most cases it's impossible to determine for what instruments the involved musicians are in charge in particular. Right here again. So far. On 'Fear' the current crew is comprised of nine musicians, that is known for sure. Where bassist Esa Juujärvi seems to be the band's sole constant, right from the start up to now. Music-wise the seven songs are offering an impressing mixed bag. The basics are coming from heavy rock meadows definitely. Overly instrumental, though if vocals, then constantly variating, either as a female/male duet, or close to growls, or arranged like an epic choir respectively Gregorian chant aso.

The album's overall atmosphere is matchless. Rather dark mooded, not depressive anyhow, more in a sensitive melancholic manner. Furthermore psychedelic guitars, a jazzy trumpet, lush orchestral keyboard strings, folksy flute, native ritualistic percussion. Plus many many more elements which altogether are designed into a really prosperous shape. Deeply influenced by shamanistic rituals, hence a Heilung resemblance is coming up here and there somehow. Sparrow's Song and Lament Of Man on the contrary are serving some Italo Western flair in the vein of Ennio Morricone, I would say. The title track makes my day due to the punchy drive and outstanding guitar presence. Spot-on! During roundabout 50 minutes playing time there's a lot to discover on 'Fear'.

 HottoïzzoH by ONSÉGEN ENSEMBLE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2007
3.81 | 5 ratings

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HottoïzzoH
Onségen Ensemble Heavy Prog

Review by progressive

3 stars I was positively surprised finding this from Finland, and though there's some typical Finnish things here (maybe somehow reminding me of new age), it's very energetic and eclectic, and songs are well done and harmonic. But it's not a full-length album (and three fairly short tracks; it's not easing the hungry much), so I give three stars and continue waiting for something to come. I also had some exceptions and I don't really like this kind of music so much (post&psychedelic rock jamming), although the really raging avant-garde is my cup of tea. HottoïzzoH is tight jazz/psychedelic rock, in the name of Kingston Wall, but it's still quite different. The very beginning reminds Bondage Fruit's Kinzoku No Taiji (well, there's very little zeuhl in this mini album). The music in this record is post-rock-like constructive from repetititition (not too much, however), many times guitar oriented. Ouía Mi Mosa has more light latin jazz atmosphere but to me the vocals sound a bit japanese. VTG's beginning is almost straight from Magma's De Futura's climax part. But the song is very nice, dark, sometimes with slower heavy parts (like death metal, or let's say Nirvana's heavy metal) but this clearly moves towards avant-garde, from chamber rock to a bit metallic atmosphere (Nebelnest comes to my mind). Heavy.
 Hiukkavaara Session by ONSÉGEN ENSEMBLE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2005
3.96 | 4 ratings

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Hiukkavaara Session
Onségen Ensemble Heavy Prog

Review by Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Having first gotten acquainted with Onségen Ensemble's second EP "HottoïzzoH", I was already an admirer of this Finnish band's style, a zheul-meets-stoner rock-meets-KC-meets heavy space-rock proposal. I find Hiukkavaara Session nos as brilliant as its successor, but definitely, this 2005 release (also downloadable from their website as the other one) bears an amazing result whn it comes to revigorating the avantgarde side of prog rock. 'Vaïno' gest started with a pronounced exercise on muscular rocking vibrations as if it were a hybrid of Happy Family and early Anekdoten (although OE doesn't get to match the former's level of emotional disturbance). Here you can even find some moments in which the band flirts with rock-pop ambiences, which are the passages in which the guest female singer makes her intervetnion. The interlude between the penultimate and last sung sections turns into a very interesting jam full of accumulated tension, and the most surprising thing about it is that it's not as much contrast as complementation what the aforesid jam brings to the composition's delivery. A very good track this is, but the best of the two has to be 'Kuuhanka'. Starting and ending with a psychedelic rock motif built on an almost-funky structure, the central motif is your typical modern zheul: pulsational, loud, wild yet controlled. A special mention has to go to the bass player, who manages to make his instrument assume a leading role in many places. The guitarist keeps himseld quite busy, creating a middle field between Adrian Belew and Nicklas Berg; meanwhile, the rhythm section sustains the varying moods perfectly. At some point, some sarcastic tenor chanting emerges, something similar to Ruins (regarding the humor, not the madness). This item only contains 2 tracks, but it's really worth downloading and keeping in a special place in your prog collection as the excellent piece of avant-prog that it is. Onségen Ensemble rules, as simple as that!
 HottoïzzoH by ONSÉGEN ENSEMBLE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2007
3.81 | 5 ratings

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HottoïzzoH
Onségen Ensemble Heavy Prog

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Finnish based band Onségen Ensemble really takes you on a trip on their second EP HottoïzzoH.

From the avant-garde repetitive theme overlayed with solo guitar that develops into a quirky psychedelic number on the opening track, followed by a mellow jazz-tinged second number evolving gradually towards metal territories before finishing off with a track starting off as a frenzied psychedelic affair evolving towards a more free form chaotic musical landscape; this is a challenging release indeed.

Well performed, and either well planned or well jammed, the end result is a release worth checking out by people into experimental avant-garde music; and might be of interest to fans of psychedelic rock too.

 HottoïzzoH by ONSÉGEN ENSEMBLE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2007
3.81 | 5 ratings

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HottoïzzoH
Onségen Ensemble Heavy Prog

Review by Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars HottoïzzoH" is Onségen Ensamble's EP for 2007. So far, this is the only format that they use for their studio efforts, since their previous relase is also an EP. Both items are donwloadable from the band's website. This one lasts less than 15 minutes!! Anyway, it is a repertoire of three very interesting tracks, mostly construed on the foundations of a crossover between modernized zheul (Happy Family, for instance), heavy prog and stoner-oriented jamming. The EP kicks off with the namesake track. As you can see somewhere on Youtube, this track really benefits from proper expansions on stage, but for this studio version, it is only less than 5 minutes long. This time restriction sure leads to a restriction regarding the development of the main theme's atmospheres, but make no mistake, this studio version is not bad at all. Indeed, it is a very good demostration of the clever way that the three musicians combine the muscular and the spacey in their jams: the guitar riffs and the rhythm duo's dynamics are matched in an awesome sonic marriage. The robust bass lines are conveniently emphasized in places, which makes it for the band's mst obvious link to the heritage of old-school Magma. The follower 'OUSÍA MI MOSA' strays from this psychedelic overall mood and goes for a folk-prog deviation of avant-prog, something like Hoyrey-Kone-meets-Pochakaite Malko. The clever use of exotic Eastern Europe cadences in the guitar leads and female vocal harmonies feels solidly placed within the pounding, complex rhythmic structure. the EP's highlight is the closure 'VTG', which is pure heavy prog luxury. This track retakes the full frontal energy of the opening number and takes it to a more agile stage, as well as a more elaborated dexterity. The magnificent interlude is a clear homage to 73-75 King Crimson, with the addition of delightful mellotron (or mellotron-like) washes and exciting sax flourishes. I wonder what this track would have sounded like had the band explored it further into a more epic structure, but again, this is something than can be virtually said about any OE track so far. All in all, this EP is an excellent demostration of the band's energy and inventiveness, and so, I finish this review with the following word of advice aimed at all prog-lovers around the globe: download the EP!!
Thanks to Atavachron for the artist addition. and to NotAProghead for the last updates

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