Onségen Ensemble — Awalaï
(Pink Tank 023, 2016, LP)
by Henry Schneider, 2016-10-08:
Onségen Ensemble is a Finnish band with roots in jazz, stoner rock, progressive rock, and black metal. After playing for about 10 years and releasing two EPs, they have released Awalaï as their first full length album. There is not a lot of information available about the band. They have had numerous personnel changes over the years and I think they are currently a foursome, but I could be all wrong. The album opens with “Juuvaara,” a mixture of space rock trance and dark metal progressive rock. The next track is “Kuuhanka” that features dark synth lines, bass, and guitar and eventually distorted gluttural metal vocals and a melodic female wordless chorus. Side A closes with the title track. It begins with some whispered English text, develops into 70s prog, abruptly picks up speed, changes to a dark foreboding theme, and eventually closes with a prog metal feel. Side B opens with “HK7” that has a melodic guitar riff and hard rock power chords. There is wordless singing in the background, complex chord changes, and male chanting. And there is some King Crimson influence peeking through near the end of the track. Next is “HottoïzzoH,” opening with machine gun drumming, heavy drums, and repeated guitar riffs. This an excellent track. And the album closes with the beautiful paean to the sun, “Solei.” All things considered, Awalaï is quite a tasty slab of vinyl.
by Jon Davis, 2016-10-08:
I was a bit surprised when this one turned up. I remember their 2007 EP HottoïzzoH fondly, and in my review wrote, “Speaking of butts, these talented Finns need to get off theirs and put out a full length CD.” The bad news is that it took them almost ten years — the very good news is that they’ve lost nothing in quality or energy. They’re still pretty cryptic when it comes to hard info, but there’s apparently been enough change in personnel for this to be dubbed Onségen Ensemble Generation 2010. Their style has picked up some elements of space rock, or more accurately enhanced the elements that were already there, resulting in an interesting mixture of King Crimson aggression and groove-oriented jamming. Some of the vocals sound almost like a children’s choir, which is an interesting sound put over a big, angular odd-meter rock riff. At times, the sound is a little reminiscent of Anekdoten crossed with Porcupine Tree around In Absentia. The journey presented by these six tracks is very well paced, with the moody title track following the aggressive “HK7,” providing just the right amount of respite, but a building sense of anticipation for what will come next. Each track on Awalaï is distinct and contributes to the whole, and my only complaint is that at 42 minutes, it’s on the short side. I’m not a fan of bands filling up the whole available length of a CD just because they can, but this is great music with no filler, and I want more! With this band, that seems to be the norm — hopefully they can keep things rolling and it won’t be nine years until their next release.
Related artist(s): Onségen Ensemble
The Pineapple Thief to Tour North America – November and December of 2019 will see The Pineapple Thief bringing their music to Canada, Mexico, and the US, and famed drummer Gavin Harrison will be on board. The band has been touring extensively in Europe, but North America will be new territory for them. » Read more
Scott Walker RIP – Noel Scott Engel, better known as Scott Walker, was one of the most intriguing and enigmatic musical figures in the second half of the 20th Century. His strange career started with The Walker Brothers, an American pop group that featured no one named Walker and no brothers. After moving to England in 1965, they had a series of hit singles. Scott's solo work started with Scott in 1967. Starting in the 80s, his work took an increasingly avant-garde turn. » Read more
Freedom to Spend Unearths June Chikuma's Archives – Jun (June) Chikuma is well known for her video game and anime soundtracks, but she also released an album of experimental electronic music back in 1986 called Divertimento where she indulged the kind of spontaneity that wouldn't work in a soundtrack. RVNG Int'l label Freedom to Spend is bringing this overlooked item to broader attention with a deluxe reissue. » Read more
Seaprog 2019 Lineup Almost Complete – The Seaprog festival in Seattle is scheduled for June 7-9 this year, and they've announced their lineup of performers. The revitalized Trettioåriga Kriget will cap Friday night, perennial favorites Marbin are on Saturday, and District 97 will finish off the fest on Sunday night. In support, they've booked a stellar variety of artists from the Northwest and around the world, including EchoTest, Markus Reuter and Trey Gunn, and the live debut of the amazing Troot project. » Read more
You Can Be Part of an Ambient Electronic Project – The Gesture of History is a new electronic project put together by Sam Rosenthal of Black Tape for a Blue Girl, Steve Roach, and violist Sam Shadow. The music started as an instrumental track Rosenthal was working on for a Black Tape album, but took on a life of its own and demanded further enhancements. The majority of the funds raised will go to manufacturing costs for LP and CD editions, as well as other items as detailed on the Kickstarter page. » Read more