The Great Illusion is the appropriate title for this album. The opening sounds like Arabic music, with Arabic sounding chants and instruments. In all it is a happy sounding album. But strangely La YnE is from Finland, one would expect more melancholic music from this country. La YnE is the solo project of Matti Laine, a folk artist who traded his violin for a Macbook. The Arabic sounds are all sampled. In fact he mixes a lot of ethnic elements in his music. Music is a journey, not a destination, is his credo. There are some jazzy sounding tracks, with a prominent role for the trumpet.
The track Unexpected reminds a bit of the Belgium lounge band Hooverphonic, partly because of the female vocals, a mixture of electronic pop and jazz. La Grande Illusion is the debut album of La YnE and dedicated to the memory of Mick Karn, former bass player of the band Japan, who died on the 4th of January 2011. After Japan split in 1983 he released a series of solo albums, as well as collaborations with Midge Ure (Ultravox) and his former band mates Steve Jansen and Richard Barbieri amongst others. Japan was a band that mixed Japanese sounds and culture with electronic music.
The idea of making a musical journey is interesting, but listening to La Grande Illusion one could get the impression that Matti Laine mostly stayed in luxury hotels. The album sounds sterile and clean. A bit more experimentation and street sounds would have made it more energetic, dangerous, sexy, dirty and exciting. One good track is not enough to lift this album above average. The great illusion: the album is not what it appears to be at first listening, but in the end it remains an illusion.
** Erik Gibbels (edited by Astrid de Ronde)
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