In my opinion the young Finnish band Mist Season have created a masterpiece with their second album Woodlands. It's neither prog nor rock, but instrumental jazz and fusion with a lot of diversity that I never believed it could possibly be invented. It swings from the beginning until the end'. These words were written by my fellow-reviewer Cor Smeets about their previous album Woodlands (2006, see review). This album was the strong follow-up to their eponymous debut album released in 2004, the same year in which Mist Season were founded in Hämeenlinna. The motto of Mist Season is: every single note on an album must be played by human beings!
Well, that motto can be heard throughout their latest release Reflections. You'll hear neither drum machines, sequencers nor other computer-made music on this album. Maybe Cor would again call it a masterpiece, because this CD contains the same kind of music. However, it's not easy to come up with another masterpiece, but I have to admit that it comes pretty close. The musicianship and the compositions are again outstanding, especially if you like a blend of progressive rock, fusion and jazz-rock. O n the fourteen tracks that have been recorded between October 2006 and January 2011, I obviously heard traces and influences of acts like Return To Forever, The Mahavishnu Orchestra, Camel, Pat Metheny Group, PFM, Koinonia, Crusaders, Pekka Pohjola, Lee Ritenour, Weather Report, Bruford, Yellowjackets, Camel, Brand X, Spyro Gyra, In Cahoots and Passport. Some of these tracks weren't written by the band, but by people like Roine Stolt (The Flower Kings), Alan Pasqua, Carlos Santana and Pino Donaggio. They described these songs as being reflections of truly great music that has been partly forgotten by many people. This also explains the title of the album.
It has to be said that these covers are perfectly performed. The musicians who were responsible for these covers in particular and for the other songs in general were Keijo Hakala (bass), Timo Kajamies (keyboards), Risto Salmi (sax, recorder), Kimmo Pörsti (drums, percussion) and Tommi Varjola (guitars). A special mention goes to female singer Mirja Lassila. She added some fantastic vocals to the songs Defending Hands and Matelda's Song. This way the album got more variety and she prevented the album from being completely instrumental. The songs also vary because they found a fine balance between up-tempo parts like Manaos and Puppet On A Chain, and mellow tunes like Sally And Jack and Resolution.
As I stated before, Reflections is not a true masterpiece, but it comes pretty close. It's highly recommended to everyone who enjoys progressive rock with influences taken from fusion and jazz-rock. If you like the music of the above-mentioned acts you'll certainly enjoy this album as much as I did.
**** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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