Thursday, April 12, 2007


Vasarat 2
Photo courtesy Rami Talja.

A few days ago, a thick white envelope came in the mail, all the way from Finland. Whatever could it be?

Of course, I knew what it was. I had been expecting this little package: the just-released fourth CD from my favorite Finnish band, Alamaailman Vasarat.

Alamaailman Vasarat - the band’s name means “Hammers of the Underworld” - is one of the more bizarre components of the Elisson Musical Library. Call them progressive, call them alternative - or use the band’s own description of themselves, players of “fictional world music.”

I stumbled across these guys sometime back in 2001, just around the time they released their first album, Vasaraasia. It may have been a Google search gone awry, but somehow, the notion of a “kosher-kebab-film music” group sounded intriguing.

Check out some of the descriptions, culled at random from a music review site:
“Craziness. Endlessly entertaining instrumentals which can’t seem to decide which 20 genres they want to encompass.”
“Alamaailman Vasarat is excellent because they play a blend of metal and tango, which would tend to be the background music to an ancient bar fight between two burly guys with impressive beards. The band only consists of cellos, trombone, sax and keyboards, but they create a hectic and lushly orchestrated instrumental avant-prog that is surprisingly, incredibly catchy. In my opinion, their sound is something I keep coming back to because of how unique and just how cool it is. From the snarling polka of ‘Mamelukki & Musta Leski,’ to the brooding pirate anthem of ‘Lakeus,’ Alamaailman Vasarat consistently impresses throughout the entire album, sometimes catching you off guard with heavy grooves, or just dazzling you with melody. I’d also like to add here that this is definitely the coolest use of a cello I’ve ever heard, because sometimes it’s distorted, and retains the bowing sound, it’s definitely something to be heard...”
“Oink! This fresh chamber world-prog KlezMetal is one of a kind and I think it’s flabbergasting. It’s got nice eastern-European melodies and harmonics in pretty colors of sound. This beats the holy Jesus out of Universe Zero.”
“If Duke Ellington’s ‘Far East Suite’ and other big band ensembles made a good impact on an east-European group of musicians. If those musicians were also very fond of the Rock in Opposition outfits and decided to join as a band. If the whole band went to the circus and got amazed by the experience. If coming out of the circus they got lost into the woods and got to see things most of us would call imaginary. If some of those things were rather scary. If some of those things were Jewish and some others were dancing tango with a French entity. If all of that got deeply marked upon the band’s mind. If, after escaping the forest, they were hired to play in a festivity event, in which The Annual Parade Of Proud Crippled Freaks And Their Mutant Pets would take place along with the Radical Kamikaze Dance Contest and three or four funerals. If the cello player revealed himself a metal fan, bringing to the gig an overdrive pedal in which he managed to somehow plug his instrument. If Dracula arrived quite drunk. If someone recorded and released the entire damn thing.

If all of this would happen after 2000, the result would be very possibly an imitation of Vasaraasia.

Alamaailman Vasarat has four albums out: their debut, Vasaraasia; Käärmelautakunta; Kinaporin Kalifaatti, on which they teamed up with volicalist/psycho Tuomari Nurmio; and their latest, Maahan. Vasaraasia is still my favorite, followed closely by Käärmelautakunta - but Maahan, only now delivered unto my hot little hands, is proving to be right up there with their best work.

Check out the band’s official website and listen to a few samples. You’ll have to admit these guys are unlike any band you have heard before.

More pics below the fold.

Vasarat 1
Photo courtesy Tomi Palsa.

Vasarat 3
Photo courtesy Tomi Palsa.

Vasarat 4
Photo courtesy Rami Talja.

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