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Rantama - Rantama CD (album) cover

RANTAMA

Rantama

 

Heavy Prog

3.00 | 3 ratings

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Matti
Prog Reviewer
3 stars After receiving this Finnish CD a couple of weeks ago and reading the texts in the cover booklet, it took me by surprise to learn from the PA band page that the very same line-up minus the vocalist have released an instrumental jazz album Catching the Mystery Train (2016) as RANTAMA TRIO, which also is on the Archives, though sadly without a single review. The introductory text of this CD describes how "four people grow up in the desolate east, surrounded by diverse nature untouched by the human hand. (...) Not much else to do than to consume the wide record collections of their fathers. (...) Their stories merge as teenagers. On a hill, at the edge of town, they find their sanctuary, where they begin honing their craft like madmen..." First off, the emphasizing of untouched nature sounds like they come from some much more distant corner of Finland than the town of Kuopio. Doesn't that cited text make one think of an eager young rock band coming out to the public for the first time? Do they wish to forget their previous appearance as Rantama Trio, ie. that making an instrumental jazz album is not even worth remembering?

Although their music genre is somewhat different now, this album categorized as Heavy Prog -- no, I'm not arguing against it -- does contain hints of a jazzy approach (modern jazz centred on electric guitar, to be more precise). Basically I'm referring to the two instrumental tracks, 'Ground Frost Forger' and 'Splendid Sun'. And if you imagine the rest of the tracks without the hard rock tinged vocals, you'll realize the guitar-bass-drum trio's jazz/fusion-like undertone in them too, although I wish it was more audible. I listened to a couple of Rantama Trio album tracks on YouTube to make comparisons. Admittedly the 2016 stuff has a bit lighter touch, but it's easy to recognize as the same group, especially from the slightly distorted electric guitar sound of the frontman Timo Rantama. He plays also keyboards, but they have a very minor role in the sound. The vocalist here is Taavi Kiiskinen. He does his job fairly well, up to the English pronunciation, but I'm no fan of this type of rock vocals.

I would compare this band to RUSH afteir their 80's synth period, but this comparison puts a lot of pressure to the drummer especially; Iiro Laitinen lacks the sharp virtuosity of Neil Peart -- well, who wouldn't? As you may have guessed from my previous paragraph, I tend to prefer the instrumentals. But despite the slight sense of sameness (the vocals are a bit too central on most songs instead of being an extra element on prog music with its heart primarily on instrumentalism), the songs have their good moments. Perhaps the finest is the 10-minute closing song 'The Pond of No Return'.

It must be said that in the end the heaviness is rather mild in Rantama's music, and that the songs have a nice dose of pop sensibility to compensate the small amount of a proggier -- or jazzier -- complexity/eclectism in the compositions. The possible complexity lies more on the texture, not on larger song structures. All in all, certainly not a bad album although quite non-essential, and not very much sticking out from the vast field of English-language prog flavoured rock with similar atmosphere.

Matti | 3/5 |

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