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Aalto - Ikaro CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

3.96 | 10 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars The ethno-oriented group AALTO from Tampere, Finland, has released their second album. Let's start by listing the instruments, because in this case it is very revealing: Marko Niittymäki plays mandolin, banjo, percussion, mandola and guitars, the only female member Petra Poutanen plays kantele, Antero Mentu plays guitar, sitar and tambura, Sampo Salonen didgeridoo, doshpulur and percussion, Panu Ukkonen clarinet, and finally Kusti Rintala plays drums and percussion.

All except Rintala also use their vocals. In some cases it's Tuvan throat singing! All in all Aalto's music has not much emphasis on vocals, in the traditional song sense. The band themselves speak of tying together ethnic music and prog-psychedelia. Some of the members have studied ethnomusicology and the influences from e.g. Tuva and Northern India are strong. However they wish to point out that "it's not self-poignant exotism but making beautiful and personal music with an unusually wide range of influences". I may not be the biggest fan of ethnic music and have never been, but I do sense that they make their music sincerely and with a real passion to what they do. That's very valuable indeed, and if the listener is open-minded enough, the music feels good.

I like the many, seldom heard colours in the sound. For example 'Kastepisaroita II' has a nice bright kantele playing among other ethnic intsruments, and the track builds up a hypnotic atmosphere in its repetitiveness. Petra's Finnish-language vocals on tracks such as 'Vapahtaja' and 'Sateentuoksuisia unia' (= "Rain-Odoured Dreams") adds the accessibility, and the lyrics seem to be full of poetic nature themes. Also her voice is beautiful. The title of the closing track (written by Antero Mentu who is the most productive composer in the group) means "The Daughter of Moon". It's ten minutes of calm and atmospheric beauty. The flowing clarinet brings even some jazzy flavour into it.

Of course this music is not necessarily "excellent addition to any prog rock music collection", being so far from rock in the first place, but in its own field it is very well made and pure music easy to surrender to. Hence four stars!

Matti | 4/5 |


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