1. Why Don’t We Run – Pattern Seeking Animals
  2. Rendezvous 6:02 (Live) – John Wetton
  3. Familiar – Agnes Obel
  4. Hey Nineteen (Live) – Steely Dan
  5. The Midas Touch – The Tangent
  6. Slow Yourself Down – Live
  7. Combination Head – Combination Head
  8. See Emily Play Judy Dyble
  9. She Said (Live) – Barclay James Harvest
  10. Run Sonny Run – Kraan
  11. Big Eyed Beans From Venus – Captain Beefheart
  12. The One You Left To Die (Live) – The Pineapple Thief
  13. Solar Gain – Kit Watkins
  14. Awake And Nervous (Live) – IQ
  15. The Life Of The Honeybee And Other Moments Of Clarity – Abel Ganz
  16. Crazy Horses – The Sensational Alex Harvey Band
  17. Still – Colin Bass And Daniel Biro
  18. Curator Of Butterflies 9Live) – Big Big Train.

 

 

 

The Progmeister theme (Theme to Department S) Edwin Astley

Asteroid (Pearl & Dean theme) Pete Morgan.

 

Contact The Progmeister at stevepetch259@gmail.com

Tales From The Tiger Moth

Edition 96

June 2019

Yazoo – I Before E Except After C
It Bites – Kiss Like Judas
Big Big Train – Pantheon
The Inner Road – The Majestic Garden
The Inner Road – Call Of The Spirit
Gabriele Baldocci – Keep Yourself Alive (Piano Etude)
Robert Reed – Spectral Mornings 2015
The Brainiac 5 – A Woman’s Work
Not Otherwise Specified – Memories
John Beagley – Tempest
Skylake – Luna
Steve Hackett – Tigermoth
Seven Steps To The Green Door – Come To Your Father
John Beagley – Open Skies
Big Big Train – The Florentine
Gabriele Baldocci – Too Much Love Will Kill You
Camel – Arubaluba (Live)

 

 

Tales from The Tiger Moth

Edition 63

October 2017

Aisles – Shallow And Daft
Rani Chatoorgoon – Breathe
Comedy Of Errors – A Moment’s Peace
Abel Ganz – The Drowning
Tiger Moth Tales – The Ballad Of Longshanks John
Morecambe & Wise – Boom Oo Yata-Ta-Ta
Circuline – Stereotypes
Valdez – Driving All Night
Glass Hammer – Dead And Gone
Rob Wilton – The Home Guard
Et Cetera – Apostrophe
The Enid – The Grand Loving [Fand 1985]
Genesis – Twilight Alehouse
Genesis – Naminanu
Spike Milligan – Ning Nang Nong
Comedy Of Errors – Ever Be The Prise
Tiger Moth Tales – Hygge
Camel – Lunar Sea

This news story was originally published here: https://theprogressiveaspect.net/blog/2020/08/08/36606/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=36606

I first became aware of German band Electric Mud from a review of their 2018 album The Deconstruction of Light on The Prog Mind. I was intrigued enough by the review, and impressed enough by the music, to buy that album, and follow the band on Facebook. Now, a couple of years later, a new Electric Mud album has been released. First things first, I must say Quiet Days on Earth is not at all what I expected! Had this been the first album I heard from Electric Mud, I would of course have had no expectations. So, why was this album such a shock for me?

The Deconstruction of Light was a challenging, diverse, eclectic and adventurous album, full of distortion and dissonance, roaring guitars and edgy synths. Yet for every passage of King Crimson meets Black Sabbath heaviness, there were atmospheric and almost ambient Tangerine Dream meets Pink Floyd electronic soundscapes. Add in a little Camel and maybe some Deep Purple. Three of the tracks were lengthy numbers that naturally led to an expansiveness of sound, and progression of varying moods and ideas. But even the shorter numbers were not static. Wonderfully, for such an eclectic mix, as surprising as some of the changes could be, they were all beautifully fluid and organic. A lot of this consistency in the face of constant change is down to the bass of Hagen Bretschneider, who sets the tone for each track. The importance of the bass in any band is often under-appreciated, but it’s hard to overlook the contribution Bretschneider’s bass provides to the sound of Electric Mud.

Quiet Days on Earth is an almost entirely different beast. All the bombast and brouhaha has gone. I guess the title of the album should have alerted me to this, but it didn’t occur to me at all. And yet, as different as the album might seem on first impression, it has far more similarities to its forebear than are immediately apparent. While The Deconstruction of Light is probably best described as a heavy album, for its at times violent and industrial nature, it still has plenty of delicate and beautiful passages. It is those more cinematic and atmospheric vibes which form the mainstay of Quiet Days on Earth. Passionate, poignant, and restrained. It makes for an easier listening experience than The Deconstruction of Light – where the seemingly inexhaustible changes of mood, tempo and complexity could potentially be overwhelming – but whether that makes it better is entirely subjective. I think I like both albums equally, and it depends entirely on my own mood, what my preference will be at any one time.

Unlike the predecessor, much of Quiet Days on Earth is slow-burning. It creeps up on you, as layers and textures within the music intensify. I’m reminded often of Nordic Giants, but Electric Mud create even more affective soundscapes. Bretschneider’s bass, once again, shines. I often realise I am paying more attention to his nimble fingers than to other more overt instrumentation in the mix, and that is a shame, because the sheer amount of different sounds created by the other member of the duo, Nico Walser, is nothing short of amazing! So much of the music is so gentle and subtle, that it enters the mind subconsciously, and it’s only on closer listening that you realise just how much attention to detail has been made.

Yet, though it may seem like Quiet Days on Earth is all peaceful and non-threatening in comparison to The Deconstruction of Light, there are plenty of moments that are just as haunting and unsettling. The dreamy melodies might not quite be nightmarish, but there are definite moments where they are more malevolent than they might initially seem. It’s definitely not an entirely relaxing journey, but this keeps the listener on their toes, and a little on edge, just as effectively as the constant shifts of The Deconstruction of Light did.

I was going to pick highlights, until I realised I was listing almost every track as a highlight. After repeated listens I have come to realise that Quiet Days on Earth has just as many changes and shifts as The Deconstruction of Light after all. The difference is that they have been made within a far narrower scope, so they are not so immediately noticeable. I think I recall a review of the previous album where the reviewer mentioned that Electric Mud have as many changes in style in one track than other artists do over a whole album. That holds just as true for Quiet Days on Earth. And yet, just as with The Deconstruction of Light, the track never sounds incohesive, disjointed of forced. Every transition is seamless. There’s a sense that this album must have been incredibly meticulously crafted. Something that sounds this effortless clearly took a lot of effort to sound that way, and I can’t help but be impressed every time I listen.

TRACK LISTING
01. Aurora Moon (7:03)
02. Silhouettes Floating Down a Rain-Slicked Street (5:18)
03. Mer de Glace (2:05)
04. Quiet Days on Earth (7:21)
05. Wading Through the Waters of Time (5:32)
06. The Echoes of Acheron (5:11)
07. The Loneliness of the Somnambulist (6:37)
08. Durance (3:45)
09. The Space Between the Shadows (6:00)
10. Adventures in a Liquid World (7:14)
11. The Blinding Absence of Light (4:35)
12. Eyes Watching Skies (3:54)
13. Foggy Postcard from a Barren Land (5:58)
14. Into the Great Unknown (4:30)
15. Sleeping Under a Green Desert Tree (4:04)

Total Time – 79:07

MUSICIANS
Hagen Bretschneider – Bass
Nico Walser – Guitars, Keyboards, Fretless Bass, Noises, Drum Programming

ADDITIONAL INFO
Record Label: Independent
Country of Origin: Germany
Date of Release: 28th May 2020 (digital), 24th July 2020 (physical)

LINKS
Electric Mud – Website | Facebook YouTube | Bandcamp

This news story was originally published here: https://theprogressiveaspect.net/blog/2020/08/07/the-utopia-strong-dreamsweeper/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-utopia-strong-dreamsweeper

Sometimes, don’t you want to just buy stuff? When I saw this was out, I bought it without bothering to check anything, I thought it was a safe bet. I was expecting a studio album but was not in the least bit disappointed to find that Dreamsweeper was recorded live on 5th September 2019, at a gig in Oslo (not that Oslo, one in Hackney). In fact, fellow Progressive Aspectoranter, Roger Trenwith, our friend Spike and I had the absolute pleasure of seeing these three perform at this very gig, and it was utterly splendid!

During the gig, I stood there, eyes closed, just a couple of meters away from a very nervous Steve Davis, who wrongly considers himself to not be a musician. The fact that Dreamsweeper is clearly musical, as you will tell as you listen to the album, is testament to the fact that he clearly is. Kavus Torabi and Michael J. York are, of course, unequivocally musicians.

Numbers isn’t a strong point for me, but it seems that Dreamsweeper Part 1 and Dreamsweeper Part 2 just about add up to Dreamsweeper (Full Version). There is circumstantial mathematical evidence that they may also be side 1 and side 2 of the vinyl – that, and it sounds like it. I’m a trained observer, you know. I have the digital downloaded version, because I don’t have a record player. I’m mainly doing this review listening to Dreamsweeper (Full Version).

Happy memories flooded back as I listened to this recording. It isn’t possible for me to listen to this without remembering the live experience. I don’t know what any of the music was called, I don’t really even remember the music, as such. I do remember the mood, the experience. I remember that the gig was, quite simply, mesmerising. I remember allowing myself to shut my brain off to thoughts and just have… feelings. Such was the un-worldly nature of the music, that as it washed over me – and I was happy to be drenched in it – I may have opened my eyes at one point, and I thought, maybe I actually saw, a man… with bagpipes – and it sounded good! Seriously. Bagpipes! Mind warping stuff. (I’m pretty sure I wasn’t hallucinating).

I think the recording needs a dark room and headphones. Noises sweep in and out, rhythms pulse to an occasionally dark, even creepy vibe, so all this and more means that you can be taken on a little journey of reactions and emotions. Words like “ambient” and “soundscape” and comparisons with Eno’s ambient stuff and Robert Fripp’s soundscapy Frippertronics things, and their collaborations may be inevitable, but that would do the music an injustice.

Thirty-odd minutes in and I’ve experienced a gentle building of tension and expectation of a catharsis that seems as if it will never quite come. Sometimes the mood is transitioning just as more undertones have already started coming to the boil. The music seamlessly blends the psychedelic (whatever that is), the unearthly and the faintly sinister (the best kind of sinister). At one point (time is largely irrelevant) the music fades into Kavus’s guitar, sporting an almost sitar-like tone. It builds again towards the conclusion in waves of atmospheric, synthetic rhythm. Then there’s enthusiastic applause and that’s me whistling at the end. Probably.

Potential multiple hyperbole alert: This was right up there with any transcendental musical experience that I had in my “wild years”. If I had a record player then I might have liked to own a vinyl copy, but owning such an artifact, yet no record player, would be like owning an Aston Martin and just staring at it in the garage on weekends. I’m not one to deprive someone else of what may be destined to become quite collectable. But if you get my copy, then promise me you’ll play it!

But hurry! The vinyl version is limited to 250 numbered copies with hand-printed sleeves done by the band. Both versions of Dreamsweeper are available from Bandcamp.

[You can read Roger Trenwith’s interview with Steve Davis HERE.]

TRACK LISTING
01. Dreamsweeper Part 1 (16:47)
02. Dreamsweeper Part 2 (20:50)
03. Dreamseeper (full version) (37:01)

MUSICIANS
Michael J. York – Pipes, Synths
Kavus Torabi – Guitar, Synths
Steve Davis – Modular Synth

ADDITIONAL INFO
Record Label: Independent
Country of Origin: U.K.
Date of Release: 23rd July 2020

LINKS
The Utopia Strong – Facebook | Bandcamp

This news story was originally published here: http://www.insideoutmusic.com/newsdetailed.aspx?IdNews=24245&IdCompany=8

Steve Hackett announces the release of “Selling England By The Pound & Spectral Mornings: Live At Hammersmith” on 25th September. This live recording is from his critically acclaimed 2019 UK tour.

The concert was recorded at the Hammersmith Eventim Apollo, the final night of the tour. Steve Hackett was joined by his touring band of Roger King (keyboards), Jonas Reingold (bass), Rob Townsend (saxes/flutes), Craig Blundell (drums and percussion) with Nad Sylvan on vocals. Special guests for this performance were Steve’s brother John Hackett (flute) and Amanda Lehmann (guitar and vocals).

This was a very special tour for Steve Hackett as it brought together his favourite album from his time as guitarist with Genesis – Selling England By The Pound – which Steve and his band performed live in its entirety for the first time. The show also featured selected tracks from Steve’s personal favourite album from his extensive solo career “Spectral Mornings”, together with tracks from his acclaimed 2019 release “At The Edge Of Light”.

Steve comments: “Amalgamating three personal favourite albums, including the whole of “Selling England by the Pound”, most of “Spectral Mornings” and “At The Edge Of Light” highlights was a very special live experience. Both audio and visual on this product give a mind blowing experience of an unforgettable evening at Hammersmith.” 

The first set of the concert includes tracks from “Spectral Mornings”, celebrating its 40th anniversary, and “At The Edge Of Light”. Steve and the band were joined by Amanda Lehmann on vocals and guitar and by John Hackett, on flute for “The Virgin And The Gypsy” and “The Red Flower Of Tai Chi Blooms Everywhere”.

The second part is the live recording of “Selling England by the Pound” album in its entirety, plus “Déja Vu”, a track initiated for the album by Peter Gabriel, but later completed by Steve.
The recording concludes with the concert encores of “Dance On A Volcano” and “Los Endos”.

The “Selling England By The Pound Plus Spectral Mornings” tour played twenty dates across the UK in November 2019 to great critical acclaim: 
“Wonderful.” (Prog)
“The first set was devoted to Hackett solo material and with 2019 marking the 40th anniversary of Spectral Mornings… This was an early opportunity for Hackett to harmonise with vocalist Nad Sylvan and then demonstrate his sublime guitar technique with a soaring solo.” (The Progressive Aspect)
“If ever an album was made to be experienced live as a whole, it’s Genesis’ 1973 masterpiece Selling England By The Pound. If you’re going to do a classic album tour, make sure you’ve got a classic album to do it with. Hackett has.” (The Wee Review)

Track listing for “Selling England By The Pound & Spectral Mornings: Live At Hammersmith”:

CD1
1. Intro
2. Every Day
3. Under The Eye of The Sun
4. Fallen Walls And Pedestals
5. Beasts Of Our Time
6. The Virgin And The Gypsy
7. Tigermoth
8. Spectral Mornings
9. The Red Flower Of Tai Chi Blooms Everywhere
10. Clocks – Angel of Mons
11. Dancing With The Moonlit Knight
12. I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)

CD2
1. Firth Of Fifth
2. More Fool Me
3. The Battle Of Epping Forest
4. After The Ordeal
5. The Cinema Show
6. Aisle of Plenty
7. Deja Vu
8. Dance On A Volcano
9. Los Endos

DVD Package
DVD
Concert (2 hours)

Blu-Ray Package
Blu-Ray
Concert (2 hours)
Documentary (30 mins)

“Selling England By The Pound & Spectral Mornings: Live at Hammersmith” is released on 25th September, through InsideOut Music in several formats: Limited Edition Deluxe 2CD+Blu-ray+DVD Artbook; 2CD+Blu-ray Digipak; 2CD+DVD Multibox; Limited Edition 4LP+2CD Box Set and Digital album.

The first track to be taken from the show is ‘Déja Vu’ – watch it here: https://youtu.be/TGj5xcmMIJw

‘Déja Vu’ is also available on all streaming platforms.

About Steve Hackett
Steve Hackett joined Genesis at the beginning of 1971 and gained an international reputation as the guitarist in the band’s classic line-up alongside Peter Gabriel, Tony Banks, Mike Rutherford and Phil Collins. Steve’s intricate guitar work was a key element of Genesis’ albums from Nursery Cryme (1971) to Wind And Wuthering (1977) including the classic Selling England By The Pound.

After leaving Genesis at the end of 1977, Steve’s solo career, which now spans more than 30 albums, has demonstrated his extraordinary versatility with both electric and acoustic guitar. Steve is renowned as both an immensely talented and innovative rock musician and a virtuoso classical guitarist and composer and this was recognised in 2010 when he was inducted into the Rock Hall Of Fame. He has also worked alongside Steve Howe of YES in the supergroup GTR.

Steve’s compositions take influences from many genres, including jazz, classical and blues. For his later studio works The Night Siren (2017) and At The Edge Of Light (2019) Steve has explored the influences of world music. Recent tours have seen Steve celebrate his time with Genesis including a spectacular 2018 tour in which Steve realised a long-held ambition to perform the works of Genesis live with his band and an orchestra.

Steve recently announced re-scheduled dates for his Seconds Out +More! 31 date UK tour in September/October 2021.

“Selling England By The Pound & Spectral Mornings: Live at Hammersmith”
Release Date: 25th September
Formats: Limited Edition Deluxe 2CD+Blu-ray+DVD with Artbook;
2CD+Blu-ray Digipak;
2CD+DVD Multibox;
Limited Edition “Lawnmower green” 4LP+2CD Box Set (300 copies – exclusively offered through Steve Hackett’s online store)
Limited Edition black 4LP+2CD Box Set
Digital album

Pre-order your copy:
https://store.hackettsongs.com/
https://stevehackett.lnk.to/SellingEnglandSpectralMorningsLiveID

STEVE HACKETT online:
http://www.hackettsongs.com/
https://twitter.com/hackettofficial
https://facebook.com/stevehackettofficial/

INSIDEOUTMUSIC online:
www.insideoutmusic.com
www.youtube.com/InsideOutMusicTV
www.facebook.com/InsideOutMusic
www.twitter.com/insideouteu

This news story was originally published here: http://www.insideoutmusic.com/newsdetailed.aspx?IdNews=24244&IdCompany=8

Today, TIM BOWNESS releases the haunting and mesmerising new song “Northern Rain”. Taken from Tim’s forthcoming sixth solo outing “Late Night Laments” (released on InsideOutMusic on August 28th, 2020), the song was mixed by his longtime partner in no-man Steven Wilson and mastered by Calum Malcolm (The Blue Nile, Prefab Sprout). 

Co-produced by Bowness and Brian Hulse, ‘Northern Rain’ combines electronic soundscapes and acoustic percussion with a powerfully emotional lyric and melody. Melanie Woods (Sidi Bou Said / Knifeworld) and Evan Carson (Kate Rusby / iamthemorning) guest.

Peter Chilvers – who mainly creates visuals for Brian Eno – is responsible for the video which can be viewed here: https://youtu.be/ns8_oScLjeE

Bowness comments: “To an extent, this is about a person seeing their partner slowly descend into the fog of dementia, reflecting on their life together and coming to terms with their powerlessness and eventual demise, and the ever-changing nature of the world. I’m more of a ‘rage against the dying of the light’ person, but this is a song of blissful acceptance.

“Late Night Laments” offers a collection of lush, atmospheric songs with a wide lyrical scope and represents the most intimate yet universal of Bowness’s solo releases. Richard Barbieri, Colin Edwin and Classical percussionist Tom Atherton also contribute, and Jarrod Gosling (I Monster) is responsible for the detailed artwork.

“Late Night Laments” will be released as Limited Edition 2CD digipak including five additional studio recordings, as Gatefold LP plus CD, and digital album.

Pre-orders are available now:
https://timbowness.lnk.to/LateNightLamentsID

An exclusive transparent blue edition (600 copies) plus signed art print is available only at BurningShed.com: https://burningshed.com/store/timbowness

About Tim Bowness:
Tim Bowness is primarily known as vocalist/co-writer with the band no-man, a long-running collaboration with Steven Wilson. 

In addition to releasing seven studio albums and a documentary DVD with no-man, Tim has worked with popular Italian artist Alice (on her Italian Top 20 album “Viaggio In Italia”), Mercury Prize nominated Banco De Gaia, Robert Fripp, Peter Hammill, Roxy Music’s Phil Manzanera and many others.

Tim recorded the album “Flame” (1994) with Richard Barbieri (Porcupine Tree/ex-Japan), co-produced/co-wrote the acclaimed “Talking With Strangers” (2009) for Judy Dyble (ex-Fairport Convention), and has had a long-term collaborative partnership with Peter Chilvers (Brian Eno/Karl Hyde). 

Tim’s recent quartet of solo releases on InsideOutMusic/Sony have entered the official UK Top 5 Rock, Progressive, and Vinyl charts, as well as the official Scottish charts. Along with Steven Wilson, he is also the co-host of “The Album Years”, which has reached the Top 5 Music Podcast charts in over 25 countries (#1 in 10).

TOM BOWNESS online:
https://timbowness.co.uk/
https://www.facebook.com/timbowness/
https://twitter.com/TimBowness
https://soundcloud.com/tim-bowness

INSIDEOUTMUSIC online:
www.insideoutmusic.com
www.youtube.com/InsideOutMusicTV
www.facebook.com/InsideOutMusic

Northern Star 30  July 2020.

Tinfoil and other stories …

Theme Pallas – Northern Star

  • Credo – Conspiracy (MCF)
  • Birdeatsbaby – Zerofortythree
  • Krankschaft – The world is flat
  • Zanias – Syzygy
  • The Flower Kings – Illuminati
  • Budgie – Homicidal Suicidal
  • Muse – Starlight
  • Fleetwood Mac – Lizard people
  • Beck – Chemtrails
  • Michael Peter Smith – Dead Egyptian Blues
  • Tinyfish – Honey Nut loops
  • TinyFish – Motorville
  • Tinyfish – The Sarcasm never stops
  • Judas priest – Lochness
  • Megadeth – Hangar 18
  • Tool – Rosetta stoned
  • The Orb – Dark side of the moon
  • Voivod – Cosmic Conspiracy
  • Coheed and Cambria – Delerium Trigger
  • Younger Brothers – Happy Pills
  • Pink Floyd – DSOTM side 2 live

http://tunein.com/radio/Progzilla-Radio-s242911/

www.progzilla.com/listen

Direct stream: http://stream1.hippynet.co.uk:8005/live

Repeat Shows Tuesdays 00.00 am GMT  & 1.00pm GMT

Subscribe to the show here

http://www.progzilla.com/category/podcast/northern-star/feed/

Podcasts of all the shows are available here

http://www.progzilla.com/shows/northern-star/

If you have a requests or ideas about shows or anything else for that matter?

Contact me on Emma@progzilla.com

#progrockradio #progzillaradio

 

This news story was originally published here: https://theprogressiveaspect.net/blog/2020/08/06/kalevi-hamalainen-group-first-days-of-summer/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=kalevi-hamalainen-group-first-days-of-summer

KalevIi Hämäläinen Group’s debut album, First Days of Summer, is one I’ve had for review for quite some time, yet have never managed to put down words for it. The one major reason for this is that every time I have decided to do so, I’ve ended up just listening to the album, and losing myself in the music. I think this is largely due to the way this year has turned out, and First Days of Summer has provided an effective antidote to some of the more depressing aspects of 2020. This album from the Finnish fusion musicians is a breezy and refreshing blast of summery jazz that effortlessly removes me from the here and now, and transports me to a happy place.

Mostly in major keys, the compositions of Kalevi Hämäläinen Group are uplifting, energetic, refreshing, and overwhelmingly positive. The piano playing of Kalevi Hämäläinen is reminiscent of Vince Guaraldi, being deceptively simple, yet sophisticated, incredibly melodic and approachable, and with just the right amount of repetition to instantly engage, without becoming stale. The mix of improvisation and composition is also just right. In fact, everything about this release is just right. The group took some years after their formation to record their debut album because they wanted it to be perfect, and that dedication and care has paid off.

Grasshopper starts off with an incredibly bouncy rhythm section that is instantly infectious, before the piano takes the lead, and runs with a particularly gorgeous and engaging melody. Full of joie de vivre, I find this number to be irresistible, and where every intent to review the album has fallen away until now. In fact, I have made the deliberate decision to begin listening to the album from the second track today, as otherwise I know these words would never be written, as I’d be off with the grasshopper. Grasshopper is definitely the right piece to open an album dedicated to summer with, as it is full of feelings of freedom, liberation and playfulness. I’ve never experienced a warm Finnish summer under the midnight sun, but this music speaks of summer to me. In this regard, First Days of Summer is a more effective concept album than many others that attempt to tell a story with words. This album, with only music, fully evokes the theme of summer.

Flying Desires continues the high tempo, energetic feel of Grasshopper to begin with, before becoming more relaxed. Kalevi Hämäläinen’s breezy piano again dominates, but there’s no denying the impact of the rhythm section of Ilmari Hämäläinen (drums) and Valtteri Rouhiainen (bass), who deftly groove along with the twists and turns in the music. The grooves become even more relaxed with Exit 68. It’s quite a change of tempo, and almost too relaxed for me. However, just before the point of no return, there’s a shift…

Juho Koskivirta’s guitar is subtle and understated. His delicate and airy presence is not often put at the forefront, but when it is (as it is in Exit 68), it shines. Indeed, the extended guitar passage in Exit 68 uplifts the piece enormously, and is my favourite part of the track. It’s moments like that guitar passage that help First Days of Summer really feel like a group effort. Despite the compositions and arrangements being by Kalevi Hämäläinen, there are significant contributions from all members of the group, which stand out. The gentle guitar solo in Exit 68 is just one example of this.

Sense of Urban is quite incredible to me, for having that urban sense evoked so well. There are squalls and dirty sounds and I can almost smell the hot tarmac. This is definitely summer in the city, and it’s a thoroughly enjoyable romp through the concrete jungle, before heading into a more pastoral Midnight Sun. Time to unwind during long, languid evenings. Although it doesn’t remain entirely relaxed and tranquil, as Juho Koskivirta adds some real colour to the palette with another great solo, that absolutely soars! The final passage of this number is simply sublime. Easily one of the most beautiful on the album.

For Better Times is the only track on this album which doesn’t do a lot for me. I don’t dislike it at all, but compared to the remainder of the album, it just doesn’t reach the same heights. Those heights are reached again, though, with the following Phellooti, which spiral up dizzily into the sky. It reminds me quite a bit of the more jazzy moments of Polish prog band Osada Vida, and it is definitely the most rocking number on the album. Strangely, though, I don’t enjoy the guitar solo so much here, even though it is a more natural placement than in Exit 68 and Midnight Sun. Perhaps this is because it provides a far greater contrast in those numbers, and therefore has far greater effect. It’s a rollicking great tune, nevertheless, and has an absolutely beautiful finale, which leads perfectly into the title track.

First Days of Summer starts with some delicate piano, almost melancholy (the first moment on the album where the music is not unambiguously joyful). I do say almost though, as there is still a palpable positivity and optimism to the notes. This is borne out when the rest of the band bounces in. I love the space and expansiveness of this piece. It’s definitely a case of less is more, with the group knowing the importance of which notes not to play. And while I love Kalevi Hämäläinen’s playing throughout the album, he’s saved the best for last with the title track. Despite having the longest track length on the album, this number is over far too quickly. And just like that, Summer is over, leaving you wanting more. There’s nothing really to do, except to skip back to the start and listen again…

TRACK LISTING
01. Grasshopper (6:04)
02. Flying Desires (5:13)
03. Exit 68 (6:51)
04. Sense of Urban (7:37)
05. Midnight Sun (7:18)
06. For Better Times (4:49)
07. Phellooti (5:42)
08. First Days of Summer (7:51)

Total Time – 51:25

MUSICIANS
Kalevi Hämäläinen – Piano
Ilmari Hämäläinen – Drums
Juho Koskivirta – Guitar
Valtteri Rouhiainen – Bass

ADDITIONAL INFO
Record Label: Eclipse Music
Country of Origin: Finland
Date of Release: 24th April 2020

LINKS
Kalevi Hämäläinen Group – Facebook | Bandcamp