Saturday, November 27, 2010

Band in the Spotlight, Review & Songs to be driven by...: Hidria Spacefolk - Balansia (2004, Silence)
Finnish space-rockers, Hidria Spacefolk, the self-proclaimed astrobeat orchestra, are a favourite band of mine with their highly energetic instrumental space/psych-rock tinged with cool effects.
Mikko Happo - guitar
Teemu Kilponen - Drums
Kimmo Dammert - Bass
Janne Lounatvuori - Synths, electric piano
Veikko Sutinen - Keyboards, Synths
Sami Wirkkala - guitar  

They've released 3 studio albums, 2 line albums 1 EP and 1 compilation of remixes. They are currently working on their next release.
More about the band here.

My review of the album, Balansia, is after the Jump.

This album grew on me in just one day after repeated listening to it during a work day in which I was hooked to phones. At first this sounded as disconnected blurbs of music that were connected to each other by mere coincidence. And then after 4 or 5 listens I started to realize. This is not just aimless jamming. There is a theme for the different track. There is a main idea that drives it and sets it into motion. Then after the idea is presented, the music starts swirling and moving into several directions, presenting more ideas that might be seen as jamming. The music is made up of guitars keyboard and then some more instruments to add to the flavour but the result is so very rich in sound.

Those musicians are talented and know their stuff. Besides playing very well, they show their jamming and improvisational capabilities and also their compositional skills, which are not to be disregarded. This might be to you just another psych/space album, but I hear here so much more. The way these guys build their music I find to be impressive. Yes, they rely on improvisations and jamming, but the core of the music is well thought out and planned composition. What is beautiful is that they manage to make their music sound as if they had just written it or are making it up as they are playing. The sounds they produce are exotic (with the marimba, vibraphone and trumpet), psychedelic and rock in nature all in the same track. They take on their main theme and develop it further on (sometimes jamming around it) and on a few tracks deviate at a certain point and play in a new direction. There are some brilliant demonstrations of skills here as can be heard on Modus operand hermetic between 3:55 and 4:10. There is truly exceptional guitar and keyboard playing there and in all other tracks. They know where to put in each instrument so that it creates a different effect. For instance the same second track mentioned above has a trumpet at about 6:30 doing a great moving part and the guitar comes in more furiously giving a heavy rock mood. The music they create has mainly a positive and even happy atmosphere to it. It is sometimes funky, sometimes psychedelic and sometimes even exotic in sound. But it all mingles very well. The drums play an important role here, since they provide the great rhythm of Hidria Spacefolk. While not too creative, they manage to deliver a great tempo that suits the different parts of each track, whether it is a faster, rockier one or a more spacey rhythm. With this album you feel that the guys in the band simply love playing music and love what they create. You can sense they are having fun playing those tracks.

Do not be too much misled and/or put off by those comparing them to others such as Ozric Tentacles and stating how unoriginal they are (you can listen to both bands anyway, no?). Give this a try (5-6 listens at least) and see if you are not getting carried away by their music and enthusiasm.

For pure energy and an exciting musical journey that crosses several areas of music, listen to Balansia by Hidria Spacefolk. Just imagine listening to these guys live. (you can actually do that by listening to their Live Eleven A.M. album). Essential listening, excellent album - 4 stars.

Their first EP, HDRSF-1(2001) ,is available for streaming in their website's jukebox.

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