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Uzva - Uoma CD (album) cover




Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.14 | 54 ratings

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Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer
4 stars 'Uoma' - Uzva (74/100)

I must admit; I wasn't quite sure what to expect from Uzva's Uoma, the third (and presumably final) album of their career. I was first taken aback by their second record Niittoaika, a beautiful work that managed to reinvent the fusion of classic prog rock and jazz in a refreshing way. While nowhere near as impressive as their sophomore, Uzva's debut Tammikuinen Tammela offered a different sort of experience, closer to the chamber rock style of a band like Aranis than anything strictly jazz-related, although once again, Uzva managed to surprise me with their fresh take on a familiar genre.

There's no doubt that Uoma is a technical triumph beyond its predecessors- it took two years to record this album, and the instrumental wizardry Uzva only ever implied they were capable of on past albums takes a strong role in Uoma. Be that as it may, it is the first time I feel Uzva's venture into a new realm has not resulted in a fresh style. For better or worse, Uzva's third album saw them finally marry themselves to prog fusion, as well as the stylistic bells and whistles the label implies. The intimately pastoral tone that in part defined them has made way for progressive fireworks and a fitting demonstration of their obvious chops as players. In a way, it's as if the big wish I had with the debut has been fulfilled; still, I am left feeling like I would have preferred to hear Uzva continue their pursuit of woodland atmosphere and dynamic restraint.

Of course, I do not mean to imply that Uoma is a bad album by any stretch; the change is in most ways an evolution rather than a hindrance. Most of all, Uoma succeeds in bringing the talent and tightness of Uzva to the forefront. Before this, the band made it plainly obvious that they could pull off sophistication of a Gentle Giant or King Crimson calibre, but they chose not to, instead favouring whatever felt best for the composition itself. While there were times even during Niittoaika where I might have wished to hear something more explosive, I think the restraint did more good than harm; above anything else, it set them apart from the legions of equally skilled fusioneers that weren't afraid to strut their skills. In that sense, in spite of the fact it is undoubtedly the most challenging of the three Uzva albums, it is also the most conventional.

In keeping with the band's tradition, Uoma primarily operates with longer suites, broken up into shorter tracks to better get the impression across that they work better as movements of music rather than well-rounded songs. Among these, "Arabian Ran-Ta" is the most instantly gratifying piece, wrapping itself around exotic flute instrumentation and atmospheric tension unheard on Uzva's past work. "Chinese Daydream Part 1" is also noteworthy, if only for the fact that it recalls the immersive atmosphere of Niittoaika. The obviously King Crimson-influenced "Vesikko" ("Part 3" begins with a crunchy riff borrowed from Crimson's "One More Red Nightmare"); like the album's opener "Kuoriutuminen", "Vesikko" is best described as a meticulously composed jam rather than a full-bodied composition. Stretches of time are set aside for the sake of building leads, although Uzva never venture far or long from the written framework.

Uoma is magnificently performed, and aspects from both their chamber rock and jazz fusion styles have found their way here, although it's clear by this point that Uzva had declared their undying love for the latter. There is no doubt that Uzva's third album is the most challenging and layered thing they would ever produce. Even so, in spite of its technical accomplishments, I'm not hearing the same moments of near- cinematic beauty that defined y experience of Niittoaika. The compositions have given up some of their atmosphere for the sake of demonstrating skills we already knew Uzva were capable of. I have no doubt that some will see Uoma as the strongest offering by Uzva. I prefer the moderation and restrained arrangement of their second. If anything may be said to conclude an exploration of Uzva's striking (yet brief) discography, it's that they successfully managed to reinvent themselves with each new record. Regardless whether the changes were favourable enough, that is a feat in itself.

Conor Fynes | 4/5 |


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