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Prog Folk • Finland

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Kosmos biography
"KOSMOS is a folk-progressive group from Turku, Finland. Their main influences come from folk, progressive and psychedelic rock of the early seventies. The lyrics, sung by a female singer, are in Finnish, but English translations are also included in their albums. Some of the instruments used are: Mellotron, acoustic guitar, piano, flute and violin.

The songs of KOSMOS rely on strong atmosphere and interesting lyrics. According to Olli Valtonen, the main lyric writer, the general idea in the lyrics is "the other reality" (mainly the cosmic and mystic one).

The psychedelic side of KOSMOS is a bit more pronounced on the second album "Polku" (2007). Some new instruments such as bassoon, bombarde and theremin have been introduced.

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BMG/The End Records 2007
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KOSMOS discography

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

4.12 | 6 ratings
Tarinoita Voimasta
3.17 | 5 ratings
3.61 | 8 ratings
Vieraan Taivaan Alla
4.02 | 7 ratings
Salattu Maailma

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

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

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

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

KOSMOS Reviews

Showing last 10 reviews only
 Vieraan Taivaan Alla by KOSMOS album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.61 | 8 ratings

Vieraan Taivaan Alla
Kosmos Prog Folk

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This is the third album by Turku-based KOSMOS. The female vocalist Päivi Kylmänen sung also on the debut (2006) of the more symphonic folk prog band VIIMA, despite the fact that Kosmos' debut was released a year prior. The style of Kosmos is rooted in the vintage folk with psychedelic hippie mysticism. Listening to the music makes you think it's really from the early seventies. Acoustic guitar is the central instrument and also the good old mellotron is used for good measure. The arrangements get extra colour from guest appearances: 'Luovun' (= I let go) features a recorder and 'Don Juan' (composed on a poem by Väinö Kirstinä) a bassoon, both played by Pauliina Isomäki. Two tracks feature Jukka Aaltonen's violin.

The first half - or Side One of the vinyl version - is calm and peaceful folk, nearly totally acoustic (+mellotron) and quite free of rock elements. My favourite of those five songs is 'Yön hiljaisuus' (= the silence of night) which is very atmospheric and nocturnal. The simple pattern of acoustic guitar & bass is accompanied only by Päivi's voice and lovely flute/string sounds of mellotron.

The latter half consists of two longer and edgier songs. 'Tuulisina päivinä' (= on windy days) allows the percussion step more upfront and the guitar is electric. The atmosphere is darker and more electrified, so to speak. One of my album associations was none less than In the Court of the Crimson King, but it must be pointed out that Kosmos have a sound and style of their own. According to the main lyricist Olli Valtonen the central idea is "the other reality" in the cosmic and mystic sense. The 12-minute closing track 'Vieraat' (= the guests, or, the strangers) is in three parts. First and last feature suggestopedic narration for total relaxation, or whatever it is called, and the long middle section has full-blown prog rock sound with washes of mellotron, a cool dostorted electric guitar solo and an intensive guest appearance of violin. It's worth noticing that Päivi's beautiful vocals remain as detached as always, in the distinctive Kosmos style. The power of understatement!

I think this is going to be my favourite Kosmos album. Warmly recommended to the friends of retro folk psychedelia, including the non-Finnish who can accept the foreign language. To me it's however essential that the lyrics are in Finnish.

 Salattu Maailma by KOSMOS album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.02 | 7 ratings

Salattu Maailma
Kosmos Prog Folk

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Finnish band KOSMOS have been a recording entity since 2005, when they released their debut album "Tarinoita Voimasta". Since then three more full length productions have followed in 2007, 2009 and 2013 respectively. "Salattu Maailma" is the most recent of these, and was self released by the band themselves just like all their previous full length productions.

With "Salattu Maailma", the Finnish band Kosmos documents that there are still bands around that have a desire to create music with a basis in careful folk inspired music, expanding the scope of this core stylistic foundation to incorporate both psychedelic and to some extent symphonic oriented progressive rock as well, and that they are able to do so in a careful, frail and fairly unobtrusive manner. If low key, gentle psychedelic rock that builds upon a folk music inspired foundations sounds like something you would enjoy, this is a band that merits a check.

 Salattu Maailma by KOSMOS album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.02 | 7 ratings

Salattu Maailma
Kosmos Prog Folk

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Salattu Maailma is an album of diverse folk-rock from Finnish band, Kosmos, stretching from outright progressive rock of the opener to more of a country-folk of "Loitsu," to pastoral prog folk like "Simpukka," then to a more eerie ballad form of "Tuuli" and then to the realm of psychedlia with "Uni." All of it is very nicely composed, performed and recorded. I really appreciated the printing of the lyrics in English as well as the gorgeous album and web art work.

1. "Salattu Maailma" ("A Hidden World") (6:59) begins with a very MOODY BLUES/IN THE COURT OF THE CRIMSON KING feel and sound. When lead vocalist, Päivi Kylmänen arrives, the instrumental support includes beautifully finger-picked acoustic guitar, simple drum and bass with intermittent flute. Mellotron returns during the harmonized chorus. The instrumental C section between 3:05 and 4:30 is gorgeous and surprises us with a treated spoken voice in its middle. I cannot imagine a prog folk song being more beautiful or perfect than this one. (10/10)

2. "Simpukka" ("Seashell") (4:07) opens with the sound of waves and seagulls at the seashore. A finger-picked acoustic guitar gently introduces a "Here comes The Sun"-like melody and sound before Päivi joins in to punctuate this George Harrison theme. A very pretty folk song accented by flutes and a little Mellotron. (8/10)

3. "Loitsu" ("Incantation") (4:13) incorporates a much more straightforward folk-rock sound with strongly strummed acoustic guitar accompanied by drums, bass and, of course, the delicate vocals of Päivi Kylmänen. In the third minute a fiddle pops in for a folksy solo. Nothing very proggy, exceptional or even memorable about this one. (6/10)

4. "Pelli" ("The Mirror") (3:28) is a traditional sounding folk song which happens to beautifully showcase Päivi's extraordinary vocal talents. I am here reminded of Sandy Denny, Jane Relf, and the other understated female masters of the 60s folk rock tradition. (9/10)

5. "Tuuli" ("The Wind") (7:04) opens sounding very much like a classic JOHN MARTYN song--complete with that haunting Echoplex guitar sound. The chorale voice approach used here is also incredibly effective for reinforcing the eery feel of the song's opening. At 2:30 the song shifts as strumming acoustic guitar and bass and drums take over instrumental support for the "chorale" vocal singer/story-tellers. Melotron sneaks in during the fifth minute in a MOODY BLUES kind of way. Fiddler reappears for a pleasant solo in the sixth minute, giving the song more of a Celtic feel than it may have had before. (9/10)

6. "Uni" ("A Dream") (7:35) opens with the sounds one would associate with war-time air raid: sirens, bombs, screams, and the surprising silence and stillnesses of the bewildering aftermath. At 1:30 a male spoken voice begins telling a story over the sparse and discordant musical notes and sounds lilting in the back- and foreground. Near the three minute mark a gentle bass, almost imperceptible organ, Hammond synth/organ take over the song's soundscape--periodically joined by a n early-FRIPP-like fuzz guitar. (9/10)

7. "Takaisin Virtaan" ("Back to The Stream") (5:21) has very much the same feel and sound as the Rolling Stones' classic "You Can't Always Get What You Wanted"--same melody line and same pace, hand percussion use. Nice song but a little too familiar. (7/10)

Salaattu Maailma is a beautiful, though short album with some quite pleasant and memorable music by the angelic voice of 60s throwback Päivi Kylmänen.

Solid four stars. Takes me back to the beginnings of Prog Folk. Highly recommended.

 Polku by KOSMOS album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.17 | 5 ratings

Kosmos Prog Folk

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

3 stars In some Finnish review KOSMOS were described as tree-hugging hippies, which is really well said. Even on the cover painting of Polku ("Path"), a figure is sleeping on the roots of a tree. This far they've made three albums, all sung in Finnish. I've heard only this middle one. The female singer Päivi Kylmänen has sung also in another prog band, VIIMA. These two bands are however quite different from each other, and KOSMOS fits much better in Folk category than Rock (librarian's omnipresent need to categorize!). It nevertheless has enough proggy elements to fit into PA's Prog Folk category without any problem.

Their music is calm, hazy, slightly psychedelic and totally anti-modern. Influences seem to come from the late 60's / early 70's folk artists, mainly from England (FOREST, Incredible String Band etc). It was no surprise that on a tribute anthology (Tuonen Tytär II) of Finnish prog from the seventies KOSMOS perform a song by the late PEKKA STRENG, another tree- hugging hippie. The sound lies mainly on the acoustic guitar, warm & gentle organ and conga drums.

Songwriting is perhaps emphasized on lyrics, which are a bit naive in their mysticism. The album starts and ends with short title tracks (singing accompanied by guitar only), much lighter and happier than the rest of the album, and to me they are the least interesting moments, because they miss the charming haziness which makes the album worth listening. Only two tracks, 'Vieras kieli' ("Foreign Tongue/Language") and strangely named 'Omini'i Dakakos' are over five minutes. The length helps them to be sort of hypnotic, and I would have liked to see them doing more of this kind of digging deeper into atmospheres; the music isn't progressive per se, and there's the risk of being too mild and surpriseless. In general, I don't see much point to recommend KOSMOS to others than Finnish speaking folk hippies. Still, two stars would be too little, so I'm giving three with some reservations.

 Vieraan Taivaan Alla by KOSMOS album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.61 | 8 ratings

Vieraan Taivaan Alla
Kosmos Prog Folk

Review by avestin
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars I've heard music described as something soothing for an injured soul. I've certainly come across music that could have said function with its delicacy, subtleness and peaceful qualities. And I have found one more such example in the music from Finnish band Kosmos. There are other fine examples of such calm music from Finland: Viima (with their folk approach), Uzva (with their jazzy tunes), Magyar Posse (and their cinematic post-rock) and others like Stringpurée Band and Tenhi.

Kosmos are folk based, mostly acoustic but with occasional lush sounding keyboards (like a mellotron) and female vocals. It is a slow, tranquil and serene affair, subdued even, but charming nonetheless. Their arrangements are simple, but effective, with appropriate use of keyboards to either serve as background or as ornaments to the songs, the acoustic guitar as the skeleton of each song, sparse use of bass and a more frequent use of gentle drumming and percussions and various other instruments like violin, glockenspiel, shrutibox and bells occasionally popping in.

The first five songs are "regular" folk songs while the last two longer songs are a more varied affair where progressive tendencies come into play and where a creative spirit takes charge. While still having a folkish tendency, a more rock and experimental approach is taken; jazzy rhythms prevail, spacey and even psychedelic elements appear, a vaster sound is taking over. The sixth song, Tuulisina Päivinä, has stunning melody with angelic vocals fronting it (though they are in line with the rest of the instruments in the mix), which then switches to an interlude of spacey/psych-rock (still delicate though) and then back again to the main theme. And yet, though they venture out with their composition structure and arrangements the frailty and magic of the previous part of the album are still dominating. The last song, Vieraat, is divided into three parts; the first part is a narration (male voice) where we are hypnotized, and then in the second part, for the first time, an electric guitar appears with rather strong drumming (for the standard set in this album). This is the only full blown rock song here; a rather hypnotizing tune (which works fine with what they're trying to achieve) and it gets fiercer as it proceeds. This was definitely not something I expected given what the rest of the album sounds like. The rhythm section goes on with the mellotron on its side and there is a nice interlude in the middle that strays away from the main theme and then back again with the violin playing a stunning solo part and later on the guitar replaces it. We are then awoken from our hypnosis in the last segment of the song. This three-part song is truly the crowning achievement of this album. A mesmerizing piece, for these two last songs alone the album is worthwhile getting, though I don't want to do a disservice to the rest of the songs which are lovely folk tunes.

 Tarinoita Voimasta  by KOSMOS album cover Studio Album, 2005
4.12 | 6 ratings

Tarinoita Voimasta
Kosmos Prog Folk

Review by ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator Prog Folk Researcher

4 stars The first time I saw and heard this CD I wasn’t too impressed. In fact, on first sight it looks like some sort of college indie private label affair made by a hippie chick and her boyfriend. Turns out it’s a pretty decent and modern prog folk offering though, featuring a surprising variety of sounds, a dearth of musicians, and some trippy lyrical themes about space and the infinity of being and metaphysical stuff like that. In other words, a great album to listen to at dusk on a cool spring evening high in the northern hemisphere. And in that context right now, I am enjoying this listen immensely.

About half of this band is the same people who released an album under the name Viima in 2006. I’m not sure what the relationships are between the two groups, who is in which band or even whether it really makes any difference, just thought that was worth mentioning. This album is much less grounded musically than that one in case you’re keeping score at home. And I mean that in a good way.

The vocals (almost all female) are in Finnish but there are English translations in the liner notes. No matter, I wouldn’t take them too seriously in either language; if you’ve ever been twenty-something with some discretionary time and feelings of artistic freedom you’ve had some of these same thoughts yourself, so thematically there’s nothing new here, but that’s okay because the emotions are honest and that counts for something.

Musically this is folk-leaning, maybe even leaning far enough to be classified as ‘steeped in folk’. Flute, gorgeously off-kilter and mournful violin, hazy organ and spastic drums, plus the obligatory acoustic guitar and some unambitious bass. Oh yeah, and I should mention also three mellotrons (and thus qualifying it for the coveted “awash with” modifier). These offer up what sounds like mostly more strings, some choir sounds, and a piano or spinet (or some sort of strident key-driven thing).

Most of the tracks consist of whining violin (or whatever it is – more on that topic later), delicate flute and organ with various unidentifiable mellotron sounds wafting in and out amid the languid female singers. You get the picture – earthy and spacey and very, very laid back. Spark a fatty Spicoli! The closing “Seitsemän planeetta” is the exception with some rather heavy electric guitar, congas and a pulsating rhythm to bring things to a brisk and energetic close.

This is a very unassuming album that takes a while to get into your head. I have to say that Päivi Kylmänen’s vocals and guest artist Jukka Aaltonen’s exquisite violin really make the whole thing work. That is, it’s either a violin or the guy who’s playing the shrutibox, an instrument I don’t know anything about but which looks like an accordion inside a briefcase and which might also be responsible for some what sounds like off-key violin. Whichever it is, it’s beautiful – listen to “Seireeni” alone and you’ll be hooked by the sounds this/these instrument(s) make.

This CD is also available on vinyl, although be prepared to shell out about $40 USD if you can find it (I think that’s about 2 euros these days for those trying to do the math in their head). A highly recommended album for fans of prog folk, plain folk, contemporary mild psych, and probably some others I failed to mention. Four stars, which surprises even me since I was going to give it two after hearing it for the first time. Well, never judge a book or an album by its cover or first impression.


Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition.

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