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LOW BUDGET ORCHESTRA

Neo-Prog • Finland


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Low Budget Orchestra biography
LOW BUDGET ORCHESTRA is the project of Mikko Muranen, from Finland, who writes, performs, produces and arranges everything on its two releases; "Extraordinary" and "The Second Best". His idea behind the project is to create high-quality music on a budget.

Mikko has an interesting background as he has also been the sole contributor to industrial doom metal projects DOGMEAT and MAN BITES DOG. He also released two ambient, experimental rock albums under the name Mutantum. He sang vocals on these projects, although Low Budget Orchestra is completely instrumental. In spite of his doom metal background, Mikko has produced albums in a mostly neo-prog vein with occasional touches of metal.

On the two LBO releases, Mikko generally starts off composing from the guitar, but then builds upon it with other instrumentation, including layered orchestration, although only electronic drums are featured on the two LBO albums. He released Low Budget Orchestra's first album, "Extraordinary", in 2006 and followed it up with "The Second Best" in 2008.

Low Budget Orchestra official website

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LOW BUDGET ORCHESTRA discography


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LOW BUDGET ORCHESTRA top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.00 | 3 ratings
Extraordinary
2006
3.00 | 3 ratings
The Second Best
2008
3.00 | 9 ratings
Innerstellar
2011

LOW BUDGET ORCHESTRA Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

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

0.00 | 0 ratings
Promo 2006
2006
0.00 | 0 ratings
Promo 2008
2008

LOW BUDGET ORCHESTRA Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Second Best by LOW BUDGET ORCHESTRA album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.00 | 3 ratings

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The Second Best
Low Budget Orchestra Neo-Prog

Review by Matti
Collaborator Neo-Prog Team

3 stars Elegant Simplicity (UK), Eureka (Germany), Methexis (Greece), etc. As you may know, the common factor is that these are one man bands, more or less. Mikko Muranen from Finland makes instrumental, guitar-oriented yet Neo Prog sounding rock music under the name Low Budget Orchestra. The name must be taken with irony: this is not low-fi music made in poor circumstances, but the budget is low simply because there are no extra musicians to pay. The only other person you can find printed on the covers of this second album is Jaakko Viitalähde who mastered the music. One wouldn't guess in a blindfold test that all instruments are being played by the one and the same person instead of a four-piece group. So talented musicians are rare.

Funny how much that one-man factor affects to the reception. On one hand you tend to praise the technical level (which you wouldn't necessarily do with a band effort), on the other hand you feel very unsure how to express any negative opinions. I try to be honest. I believe if this was an album by a foregn band, I wouldn't hesitate at all to call it unusually single-minded and sort of pointless on the long run. The weakness is definitely not in the execution: Muranen is agifted guitarist, and pretty good on keyboards and rhythm section too. As a producer - given that he's capable of doing team work too - he would be valuable to any newcoming band.

The weakness is in the writing. None of the eight tracks are bad, any of them would be at least a decent instrumental on a good prog album. This is powerful, clean instrumental rock with a meaty sound starring electric guitar. But all put together to form an entire album, they're damn too similar to each other. I wonder if I would ever learn them individually to tell from each other. This deosn't result as weak musci, far from it, but it does result, in my opinion, as a rather boring album which shows excellent craftsmanship but lacks emotional depth.

I feel sorry to sound so negative. I was given all three L.B.O. albums, and I felt the same with the debut. I hope to get more out of the third one. I'll let you know.

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 Extraordinary by LOW BUDGET ORCHESTRA album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.00 | 3 ratings

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Extraordinary
Low Budget Orchestra Neo-Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars Low Budget Orchestra is the name under which Finnish multi-instrumentalist Mikko Muranen explores his progressive side.Formerly he released albums under the monikers Dogmeat and Mutantum and around 2004 he started also this project in order to perform instrumental Progressive Rock music.His first effort was the 2006 private release ''Extraordinary''.

The album contains ten tracks of instrumental Heavy Prog, where the music is driven mostly by powerful grooves, spacey, intense synthesizers and solid drumming.Muranen's compositions are based on his heavy guitar riffing and the more elaborate solos, while he also does a good job as a keyboard performer.His dynamic guitar playing is always supported by sharp and flashy synths as well as some decent organ runs and virtuosic piano passages, which sometimes even take over the guitars, while the rhythm section seems to have also been executed in a studio basis.Unspectacular yet pretty tight drumming and a sense of light bass lines make the album sounding pretty close to a normal band.His first album though contains little to no suprises.All tracks seem to follow the same form of rhythmic and rich Instrumental Rock with an amazing balance between guitar- and keyboard-led textures, but the lack of diversity prevents the album from offering some trully magical moments.

This album takes a good grade, considering it is a debut and moreover a one man's effort.Solid instrumental music, that sometimes screams for a more fresh air of flexibility.Still I recommend it to all fans of instrumental adventures.

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 Innerstellar by LOW BUDGET ORCHESTRA album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.00 | 9 ratings

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Innerstellar
Low Budget Orchestra Neo-Prog

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars LOW BUDGET ORCHESTRA is one of the creative vehicles of Finnish composer and instrumentalist Mikko Muranen, and the only one catering for the progressive rock oriented parts of his compositional repertoire. The first CD issued under this moniker appeared in 2006, and "Innerstellar" from 2011 is the third and most recent production to be released using this artist alias.

Instrumental progressive rock residing in the twilight zone between neo prog, progressive metal and symphonic art rock is the style explored on "Innerstellar" by LBO. The emphasis is on harmonic melodies with majestic arrangements, richly layered themes, constructed by a plethora of textures. A likely key audience might be those who own and treasure music by the likes of Arena and Joe Satriani, at least if they tend to enjoy grandiose, instrumental compositions.

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 The Second Best by LOW BUDGET ORCHESTRA album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.00 | 3 ratings

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The Second Best
Low Budget Orchestra Neo-Prog

Review by toroddfuglesteg

3 stars The second album from this one man project.

Again, we are treated to instrumental rock in the area between prog metal and post rock. That and some very strong influences from symphonic prog and some inklings of fusion and jazz.

The compositions is mostly post rock with strong buildups and tonnes of noise with some more acoustic, pastoral parts. The noise is mainly made by guitars with keyboards adding textures to the cascades of guitars. The acoustic parts is mainly done by acoustic guitars with again keyboards adding textures. Textures that gives the music a symphonic prog feel.

The music here is by no means the most exciting music in the scene. But it works and the music is good. The mix of post rock and pastoral symph prog is innovative though and should perhaps inspire other bands too.

This is a good album although not heart stopping exciting. Good effort though.

3 stars

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 Innerstellar by LOW BUDGET ORCHESTRA album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.00 | 9 ratings

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Innerstellar
Low Budget Orchestra Neo-Prog

Review by toroddfuglesteg

3 stars The third album from this Finnish band.

Somehow, I have managed to bypass their second album, but I will track back later and review that one too.

The music on their, this one man band, third album has lost the more post rock sound from the first album and has become far more symphonic prog orientated. A soothing, soaring guitar sound is now the dominating sound here. It is soaring to the top of the mountain. This guitar wall has some quiet interludes too. The Dream Theater connotation is not as evident here as on the first album. But it is still there on the first two tracks.

The music is good. But the lack of vocals and also the lack of any really great melodies makes this album a bit too one dimentional throughout. I am missing that spark of greatness. But this is still a good album which will appeal greatly to all fans of instrumental symphonic prog. I am not quite there, though.

3.25

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 Extraordinary by LOW BUDGET ORCHESTRA album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.00 | 3 ratings

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Extraordinary
Low Budget Orchestra Neo-Prog

Review by toroddfuglesteg

3 stars A new band to me and a delightful discovery it is too.

This is the debut album from this Finnish band. An album which does not sound low budget to me. The sound is excellent. But the cost of the musicians is distinct low budget though. The Low Budget Orchestra himself; Mr Mikko Muranen, does everything himself. Nice wage budget !

Normally, this one man does it all approach is not a good thing. But in this case, it actually works. The music, all of it is instrumental, is somewhere between post rock, neo prog and prog metal. Most of the melodies have a post rock build up and where a wall of guitars plays over some keyboards and/or pianos. The keyboards alternate with some clever guitar solos. Yes, some of the music here is air guitar heaven too. The music is pretty simple, but also very clever. Sometimes, less is more and that approach works here.

The overall quality is therefore good. The album is missing some really creative killer tracks. But me think Mikko Muranen can be happy with this album. It is a good effort everyone into post rock and prog metal should check out.

3 stars

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 The Second Best by LOW BUDGET ORCHESTRA album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.00 | 3 ratings

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The Second Best
Low Budget Orchestra Neo-Prog

Review by avestin
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Acknowledging he can do better, hence the title of the album, the man behind this project, Mikko Muranen is trying to become a one-man orchestra. Befitting its name, this indeed sounds like a Low Budget Orchestra as it consists of one person, who is a multi-instrumentalist who's album The Second Best is his second release under this moniker. The low budget is probably the reason why there are electronic drums used.

Guitar driven, accompanied by electronic drums and keyboards the make up the lush sounding entourage, albeit not without some drawbacks. His music is instrumental and in this album he presents eight tracks that make up according to him, a flowing sequence of music meant to be heard together. I can definitely hear it, as I think the fullest impact would be to listen to this as a whole piece and not random tracks put together with no care.

The music is not flashy or meant to impress the listener about the technical abilities of the musician. Mikko states in the promo notes that came with the release that "Rather than strictly technical or intellectual, the foundation and focus in my music is on the emotional. Each song is designed to tell a story, convey a feeling, constitute an emotion." I think Mikko achieved just that in these eight pieces of music he presents here. Each one, while connected to others in its sounds and overall style, has a distinct mood and sensation that dominate it. They all sit well when considering the album as a whole and they complement each other quite well and continue the flow naturally (though each track is individual and there is space between them). Mikko's music here is guitar-oriented and lead, but as the tracks go on, he adds more layers to it, mainly with keyboards (that may give the impression of a neo-prog sound). As for the appeal of the music, there are good and catchy ideas here, but nothing out of the ordinary or too impressive. It is enjoyable and catchy guitar-lead instrumental (and keyboard 'enveloped') progressive rock. Sometimes spacey, occasionally highly energetic, the ambience here is quite constant and unified in its style and sound.

Nothing spectacular here, nor too impressive, but not bad as well; however, I do believe that having more musicians on this project will benefit this project's sound, although being with a low budget probably means Mikko can't afford session musicians.

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Thanks to The Doctor for the artist addition.

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