KAARNA is a new instrumental band from Finland comprised of well known in Finnish jazz circles as an outstanding talent Mikko Iivanainen on guitar.Mikko Nurmi plays bass and is the bands principal composer. Tatu Henttonen is the drummer. For this seven song CD,they have crafted an innovative, complex, work. Four of the tracks were done in the studio,while three are live. Very improvisational, jazzy, spacey, psychedelic, nervous, & mysterious. The band states King Crimson,John McLaughlin, Mark Ribot and Kingston Wall as main influences.
A low two chord rumbling bass carries ”TWELVE”,with minimalist precision drumming as accompaniment,With a gritty but fluent guitar tone,Mikko I takes a trippy ride through this sound scape,occasionally threatening but never escaping the confines of this composition.
Initially pensive and exploring “Four” is full of effects,loops and random sounds,with a deep smoky jazz club bass and drums coming in about halfway the song evolves as it goes along. With bluesy notes and increasing aggression the guitar is at first plucked then attacked with dive bombing fills and wahwah.
Like awakening from a slumber, ”Montreaux” begins groggy,deep,speaker shaking bass,pensive guitar,minimalist drumming. As the song gathers steam,the pace quickens, building in to an industrial intensity before it slows again and relaxes, A busy day,indeed.
It seems as if I've heard the repeating theme present ”Scandal” before,at the intro to a Rolling Stones song sometime in the 60's. It's like taking a snippet of a song and seeing what variations can be done with it. An atmospheric piece, could be a film noir soundtrack. Interesting guitar effects.
The”Live ”tracks begin with ”Son” It's not easy to tell that they are live as no audience sounds are noticable. I wonder the venue. KAARNA would be good to hear in the evening outdoors or at a small club near an Art School somewhere.
”Son” is another psychedelic foray, reminiscent of a jam totally improvisational. Some finger picking, and always that low bottom end.
The remaining tracks are the ”Live”versions of ”Montreaux” & ”Four”. A much more raw organic sound sans studio effects, but very similar to the studio cuts. I actually prefer the live.
A challenging listen,not my usual brand of Progressive Rock. First rate musicianship, each composition comes across as an exploration of sounds, moods, themes. The bassist really shows his Jazz roots as he and the drummer lay down the foundation for the fusion tinged meanderings of the guitar. I'veee read that Mikko I.has left the band and with the addition of two new guitarists have become quintet. I'd be interested to hear how that sounds.
Reviewed by Chris Erbeck on July 17th, 2011