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Kosmos (Finland)

Polku

Review by Gary Hill

Not to be confused with the Canadian band of the same name, this outfit is a Finnish group. This is their second CD and it represents an interesting blend of progressive rock, folk and psychedelic textures. It really feels like it could have been released in the early 1970’s or even the late 1960’s. The vocals are female (and in Finnish) and in general the music is gentle and has a certain innocent charm about it. I don’t speak Finnish, so I don’t understand the lyrics, but you don’t really need to. The language of music is all you need to know to “get” this disc.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2008  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Polku 1 (The Path 1)
Sounds of nature lead things out here. A bouncy, folky texture takes the track and makes me feel like it’s 1967 again. This is just a short (1:21) little piece that serves as a nice introduction.

Vieras Kieli (A Foreign Tongue)
The psychedelic tones are all over the mellow introduction here. World music is introduced into the mix as they carry onward. It drops way down for the vocals to just percussion with some sparse strums of guitar. At about two minutes in this shifts to psychedelic space and then keys bring a world music theme – well intensify one brought by the vocals. This seems like it might burst into something new, but instead gives way to a more powered up version of the cut’s central prog meets psychedelic folk structures. They take this out later into a reiteration of the keys and vocal section that was presented earlier. The opening themes return after this and get a worked up instrumental treatment to serve as the outro.

Kesa (Summer)
A balladic motif starts this off, feeling more like traditional progressive rock. The vocals join and it is built up gradually. When they power up for the chorus keys join and it takes on a rather Genesis-like sound. This is even more prominent in the instrumental segment that follows. When they come back to the verse section there is more energy and “oomph” in the mix. This pattern becomes the order of business here, with each section getting some form of augmentation. We also get a tasty retro-tinged electric guitar solo.

Omini's Dakakos
Genesis is also near to the concept on this moody track, but you will probably also think of Renaissance here. Mind you, it’s still got that folk meets world music texture that gives this its own flavor. It moves further into world music territory as it hits the mid-section.  They bring it back in to the song proper and carry on by reworking and rebuilding its themes and textures. This turns a bit jazzy after a time and we get a cool violin solo.

Lahja vai Kirous (A Gift or a Curse)
Acoustic balladic textures serve as the main impetus on this. It has a bit of a Celtic feel to it, but is overall a very folk driven piece.

Eksyin (I Got Lost)
A mysterious musical texture leads this off. That holds it for a while, but they drop it way down for a dramatic ballad-like structure over which spoken vocals are delivered. Chorals elements and other sounds create atmosphere over this and make it feel rather dark. As this builds up and seems like it might explode out into something new, it instead drops way down. We get a folky segment where flute leisurely walks across the backdrop. Other sounds are gradually added and this feels rather evil at times, but also quite pretty. This segment serves to close the track.

Ouija
Another that feels rather mysterious, this rises up with ballad motifs and sung vocals. Gentle and very pretty vocal harmonies serve nicely to intensify this. Violin plays across later. It moves out into space that gets rather dissonant and weird mid-track. Once more this weirder section ends it.

Nuoruus (My Youth)
This is very folky and again feels a lot like the 1960’s. It’s gentle and playful and seems to have a sense of innocence. It gets a more lush treatment as they move forward. As this moves forward it turns rather towards the music of Renaissance and gets both quite pretty and quite powerful.

Polku II (The Path 2)
A reprise of the opening cut, this includes some whistling. It’s just half a minute longer than the first version and makes for a nice bookend.

 
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