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Elmo Karjalainen

Unintelligent Designs

Review by Gary Hill
The range of sounds on this set is pretty wide. We get things from fusion to Yngwie Malmsteen to King Crimson to Al Di Meola and even some heavy metal in the mix. Yet it’s all vital and powerful and cohesive. This is a strong disc.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.
Track by Track Review
Spark of Hope

Mellow jazzy sounds open this and the cut has an electronic fusion element as it continues. There is a bit of a Hawaiian music element to the cut further along the road.

Headlight Violence
A huge change up, this is frantic, powerhouse symphonic metal. It screams out, but is also technical and melodic, though angular and aggressive. There are some bits that call to mind King Crimson, but overall it’s closer to something like Malmsteen, but a bit more pure metal in some ways. There is an odd little spoken bit at the end.
Chromatic Tuna
A piece that seems to combine the first two numbers in some ways, this is more traditional fusion. It’s clearly harder edged than the opener, but no one would ever confuse this with heavy metal. It’s got a bit of Di Meola vibe to it in some ways. At least it occupies similar territory. It really becomes quite a powerhouse.
Lovely Spam
Neoclassical metal elements are all over this thing. It’s not as metallic as “Headlight Violence” was, but there is more crunch here than on the two other tunes to this point. It’s definitely in line with Malmsteen styled music.
The Promised Land of Roundabouts
Bass opens this and the cut has more of a pure fusion sound. The music is a bit weird at times and angular, but there are some great textures and sounds within it.
Home
Another that’s mellower, this is more like pure progressive rock, but with some fusion still in the mix. It’s a tasty cut and very melodic.
The Feigning of Altruism
Showcasing the variety that is brought to the table here, this one is very much heavy metal. Still, some of the guitar lines that come over the top are more in line with fusion. Whatever it’s called, though, this is another tasty instrumental.
Jammy Jam
There’s a killer groove to this one, jazz meets jam band meets stoner metal, but the cut is only a few seconds longer than one minute.
The Voices in My Head
Fusion, metal and neo-classical music all blend on this stomper. It’s another with definite nods to Malmsteen. This gets incredibly crazed at times.
Oneself As Another
Almost ten minutes in length, this is one of the heaviest pieces of the set. It’s also one of the most dynamic. Of course, the extended length allows for that kind of variation. At times it feels like metal, at other points like melodic prog, and at others fusion. It’s always interesting and powerful. There’s a weird little bit in the middle of this thing, something like a needle getting pulled around on a record. As it continues beyond that point there is a shift towards mellower and more melodic fusion.
Sanna
Mellow and powerful, this is melodic and while not one of the most dynamic cuts here, it is one of the most effective. It’s a good cross between progressive rock and fusion and is one of my favorite tunes of the whole set.
Unintelligent Designs
The title track is more pure fusion. It’s a real killer tune that has some almost Hawkwind-like sounds to it.
The Demise of a Karaoke Bar
Somehow there seems a bit of a Yes-vibe to this in some ways. That said, though, it’s got plenty of real fusion and some King Crimson type stylings. It works out to some pretty free-form weirdness later in the piece.
The Difficultist
There’s definitely an exploratory air to this cut. It’s very much a fusion kind of piece. It’s quite melodic, but also crunchy and tastefully weird. We get several changes and alterations along this ride.
Tuire's and Ville's Wedding Waltz
Mellow and slow moving, this is very much a prog meets fusion kind of number. It’s very melodic and quite pretty.
Until We Meet Again
After a quick spoken word bit, the closing number powers out with some great crunchy fusion sounds. There are some melodic lines here that really sound familiar to me. This definitely has some soaring progressive rock moments along the journey.
 
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