The Finnish band Paidarion has existed since 2006. In 2009, they released their debut album Hauras Silta (see review). Their second release Behind The Curtains could be welcomed in 2011. The music on both albums can be described as progressive rock music with elements taken from fusion and jazz-rock. The driving forces behind the band are without a doubt drummer Kimmo Pörsti and bassist Jan-Olof Strandberg. In April of 2015 the band invited several musicians from several parts of Europe to perform with them a two hour long set. They included Jenny Darren, Robert Webb (England) and Kev Moore (Saxon, Christie) from the UK. Bogáti-Bokor Ákos (Yesterdays, The Cosmic Remedy, Tabula Smaragdina) from Hungary and Otso Pakarinen from Finland. Later on Ákos came with the idea to record several songs which they did together for a future Paidarion album. And so, the Paidarion Finlandia Project was born. The extra name was added because of the fact that a larger line up of the band would record all the songs that later on could be found on the album Two Worlds Encounter which came out September 2016!
The album is housed in a brilliant cover done by Ed Unitsky. This kind of cover helps bring you to the right mood, even without hearing a single note. This almost one-hour-long album got the title Two Worlds Encounter because it showed that people from different cultures could work together on a stage and in a recording studio. The stiff and sometimes cold people from the Northern parts of Europe had a perfect relationship with the sometimes tempered people from the Central and Southern parts of Europe. The fact that this worked out fine can be heard on the entire album because the level of compositions and musicianship is very high throughout the entire album. The album also shows, that the elements taken from fusion and jazz-rock are not that much up front in the compositions as on the two earlier released albums. This makes a lover of pure progressive rock's heart beat faster.
Right from the start on the first two tracks Colin And Wendy and Billy Would Climb the music has lots of elements taken from progressive rock. A band such as Kayak came to mind right away. Mainly the way female singer Jenny Darren sings made me think about former Kayak lead singer Cindy Oudshoorn. This also occurs on the next track Fragile Bridge. But this piece also includes traces of Supertramp mainly because of the electric piano played by Robert Webb. The same song also includes a fabulous musical battle between Bogáti-Bokor Ákos and Otso Pakarinenon on electric guitar and synthesizers. It is followed by the first track which shows the band's love for fusion and jazz-rock. Webb, Bogáti-Bokor, Pakarinenon, Pörsti and Strandberg can show their musical talents the best on Jungle Fever. When I heard the intro of the piece that came next I first thought about hearing the intro of Wonderous Stories by Yes taken from their album Going for the One (1977). But as I heard more it became clear it was a beautiful cover of Yellow taken from my all time favourite album Garden Shed released by England in 1977. This time the vocals were brilliantly done by Jenny Darren. A special mention goes as well to Webb and Bogáti-Bokor for playing very strong acoustic guitars. On the next track you can hear that Jenny can sing different styles very easily. On Ode To Billie Joe she sings the blues and her voice can be compared to the legendary singer Janis Joplin. A leading role belongs to Ákos on the next composition Cloudberry Sky, which is a nice short intermezzo performed on the acoustic guitar only. On the follow up track Grand Canyon Of My Dreams the voice of Darren made me think about the vocalist of Panic Room. Namely Anne-Marie Helder. Therefore, it wasn´t so strange that the song moved very much towards the music you can hear on the albums she makes with this band. A special mention goes out to the amazing guitar solo done by Bogáti-Bokor Ákos. At first, when I heard the fine playing on the bass by Jan-Olof Strandberg on the following track, I had no idea it was the intro to a well-known classic progressive rock tune. Horseman To Symphinity is one of the amazing tracks you can find on Symphinity-the only album ever made by the Australian progressive rock act Windchase and released in 1977. The whole band once again shines on this excellent composition. Lots of fine solos can be heard on the synthesizers (Pakarinenon), electric guitar (Bogáti-Bokor) and electric piano (Webb). The song is also the first track on which you can hear the great voice of Kev Moore.
On the next piece Why Oh Why, Robert Webb handles the lead vocals. It's a rather mainstream song on which Pakarinenon can play a nice solo on one of his synthesizers. The album closer Hahmo returns back to the progressive rock style. Again you can enjoy the strong voice of Moore. Please play attention to the strong bass parts of Strandberg and you will hear he is of the same level as Jonas Reingold (Karmakanic, The Flower Kings). Very cool also are the guitar parts done by Ákos.
When somebody would have told me, that one day you will give an album made by Paidarion the highest score possible I certainly would not have believed him. Well, it has happened because what all of the musicians on Two Worlds Encounter have accomplished is of a very very high level. Each track was for me a musical highlight which I enjoyed the best way possible. The vocal performances are so great that words hardly can describe how marvellous they sound. The same goes for the musicianship of all of the guys playing on their instruments. Just outstanding performances can be heard. All together (including the artist who created the amazing art work) they have delivered a great piece of art which is highly recommended to lovers of progressive rock who like to hear elements taken from fusion, blues and jazz-rock as well. I am just speechless!
***** Henri Strik (edited by Robert James Pashman)
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