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Alamaailman Vasarat - Maahan CD (album) cover

MAAHAN

Alamaailman Vasarat

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

3.90 | 101 ratings

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Ricochet
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars As of 2007, we have a fourth studio album from the Höyny Kone off-shot that made it tremendously big, we have another coup of avant-esque music from this strange yet stunning Finnish group that constantly came with something else than homeland Sibelusian, mystic, aurorally intense specialties, leaning rather on Balkan folk, Klezmer music or Gypsy rock. Here's Maahan, an album that's Alamaailman Vasarat's factual return to form, after 2003's Käärmelautakunta, seeming to be as much of a top spinner as the 2003 effort.

Persisting a bit more on the Maahan-Käärmelautakunta relation, it is for some strange reason that I considered AV to have sorted out a weaker instrumental range and peculiarness than before; not true however, as we're still talking heavy brass music, the grave sound of the tuba being even more fastidious here than anywhere else, because it gives you utter chills, plus has a hard to achieve technique. The sax and the trombone rule out, and Hänninen's drumming speaks its own weirdness or agitation. Less forward, but more experimental are clarinets, "other woodwinds" or even the cello!

The particular disappointment would be that, overall, the drug for Maahan was set on heaviness, a royal of Eastern dances and traditional-induced rhythms, dynamic explosions that weight more than you can carry, with a contrast of slower or experimental (even rock, but rare) bits. What's the actual disappointment in this? The appetite for fast, tapping or crushingly avant-esque rhythms and heaps, whilst in anything prior to this there was still more art and intricacy - Maahan is remarkably played, vividly imagined and tastefully listenable, but more shallow on attaining something truly special. If one remembers the dashing Lentävä Mato from Käärmelautakunta, that album's sole high-adrenaline/cheap-profoundness dance (think it as a folk word, of course), a lot of short aromas from Maahan are of the same calibre. The dynamite explodes, the fireworks are splendid, but the mood is just casually contented. This is what Maahan lacks.

Judged in a different way, this album is mostly an avant-heavy show, avant being the basic ingredient regardless of the prime Eastern influences (not so much because of professional personal interpretations, but because of the mood, the deciphered style of each bit and everything altogether), while heavy, previously regarded as pure metal, is now more relaxed, but still plugged to enough power as to put current through your veins. There are crazy moments when you can't stay put, loud and fast excerpts like these are half a delicacy, half AV's currently profound spirit. In less exacerbated moments, the band chips a bit of experimentalism, of heterogeneous sounds & samples. I truly feel jazz isn't at the core of some fisting improvisations, instead there's a bit of funk added to the taste, without alternating the whole dish.

As length and size, AV keep it short and casual as always, but even if Maahan is their shortest album up to date only by a minute or so, it's the substance that counts more, and here there isn't much to be crazy about, as we're talking a slim work, out of which multiple pieces can be your favourite without striking an essential cord. I won't go again over what I've mentioned as disappointing, fact is this creative and interesting experience is also split in sequences. I'm even set on describing three major parts Maahan would be split into, excepting the much obvious and very ceremonial prologue, just like the very filler-esque Elukka: the first, from Kyyhylly to Huikeuden lieriö, straps you heavily and parties ravishingly, except for the dark Luiden valossa...; the middle part of the album is also the best, topping with a funeral/weeping tune that's beautiful and surprising, Luumen Nukkuneet; meanwhile the last part has a great avant track in Katkorapu, but slightly mellows with the shallow, wobbling Käärme toi ruton kaupunkiin and with the rock-funkier (at least by its first minute) Rooman ruumiit, that goes back to brassing too late in order to be considered that good any longer. Still, even with only the central pieces being truly worthwhile, Maahan still turns up to be a wildly achieved work.

Jammed to 3.5 stars, I could upset spirits by choosing to go low with the rating, but overall what I've said is a simple matter of taste: the fireworks could count, in real time, the most, and they're nothing short of dynamic, fun, saucerful and highly enjoyable. So Maahan is a fair success, a must for AV's long-term fans, and I'll personally head to the rest that was made by this band, one that impressed me more than I could have imagined.

Ricochet | 4/5 |

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