Our former reviewer Erik Neuteboom wrote the following lines for the debut album of Paidarion: 'this Finnish musical project is rooted in 2006 when some 'hidden poems' were composed and performed acoustically. It was the start of Paidarion in 2006. Two years later the project continued with members of Finnish prog rock bands Mist Season and Progression. In 2009, Paidarion released their debut album Hauras Silta.' Well, this introduction gives me more room to inform you about their second release Behind The Curtains.
What struck me most on this release were the interfaces the music had with the albums made by Mist Season. Behind The Curtains contains the same kind of music as both albums of Mist Season. It can be described best as progressive rock music with elements taken from fusion and jazz-rock. Actually this isn't strange at all when you realize that both drummer Kimmo Pörsti and saxophonist Risto Salmi perform on both the albums of Mist Season and Paidarion. They have a great share on these albums with their excellent playing. However, they're not the only ones responsible for the superb musicianship.
Jaan Jaanson is a great guitarist who mostly sounds like Allan Holdsworth. His playing is excellent both on the electric and the acoustic guitar. Listen for example to A Vertical Rope and you'll notice that he masters both instruments. Maybe the finest musician on this album is Jan-Olof Strandberg. His bass playing is extraordinary and can easily be compared with people like Mark King, Tony Levin, Jaco Pastorius or Stanley Clark. It doesn't matter whether he plays fretless or on the 4-, 5- and 6-string bass guitars. He can handle them all. Another important factor in the music of Paidarion is without doubt female singer Elina Hautakoski. She brings in a lot of jazz influences by her style of singing. Keyboard player Kimmo Tapananinen can neither be missed in the band. He treats the listener to some very virtuoso playing. Listen for example to A Leap Into The Unknown. He starts this strong instrumental piece with some classical playing on a real church organ. When the song continues he plays some excellent synthesizer solos. Not only the steady line-up of the band makes it worthwhile listening to this concept album about what goes on behind the curtains of life using a circus as a metaphor.
Paidarion managed to get some special guests on this release to make this album even more interesting. They got Michael Manring on bass, Steve Unruh on violin, Bob Price on vocals and Olli Jaakkola on flute. They just added some extras to the compositions which increases the variety throughout the album. Beside the superb music, the artwork has been done very well too. The booklet includes all the lyrics and many beautiful pictures which make this package look really stunning.
Comparing Behind The Curtains with their debut Hauras Silta it's obvious that the band made a big step forward with their second album. Not only the compositions are much stronger, but I think the greatest progression has been made by singing the songs in English instead of their native language. I'm sure that it will bring them in the spotlights of the international prog music scene. Behind The Curtains is a must have for people who like progressive rock with influences taken from fusion, jazz-rock and classical music. You want some names? Well, their music has references to Alan Holdsworth, Return To Forever, Level 42, Pat Metheny Group, Koinonia, Crusaders, Lee Ritenour, Bruford, Yellowjackets and Passport.
**** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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