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Uzva - Niittoaika CD (album) cover

NIITTOAIKA

Uzva

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.78 | 44 ratings

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Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer
4 stars 'Niittoaika' - Uzva (77/100)

Uzva is among the rare few that, while entirely deserving of the 'prog fusion' label that's tossed their way when discussing genre, fuel their music with a sensibility that appeals to the heart as much as the brain. Indeed, it's a shame that so many artists who pair progressive rock ingredients with a jazzy context (or vice- versa!) tend to lose sight of the fact that both styles are best when the technical prospects give way in part to hooks and atmosphere.

Given that preface, it should not be a surprise that Niittoaika trumps many of its contemporaries as a solid reinvention of traditional progressive rock. While many of the genre-based expectations a listener might have for either side of the fusion are fulfilled, Uzva's balance of traits is refreshing; the austere atmosphere and tonal experiments (closely resembling King Crimson in their heyday) and flute leads (fairly damned well analogous with prog in a rock setting) are here in full, as are the irregular chord choices that jazz listeners should be right at home with. It's the way that Uzva combines these familiar traits is what makes Niittoaika impressive; the egotism and fertile potential for loose jams are put aside in favour of compositions tightly structured and rich with atmosphere. Adding to that instrumentation heavy in flute and cello/violin leads, and it feels almost as if Niittoaika is the soundtrack to a wordless, woodland nature documentary.

Uzva's second album consists of three tracks, and to my delight, each distinguishes itself from the other two from the first listen onwards. "Soft Machine", as any seasoned prog listener might suspect, takes a fair bit of inspiration from the classic band of the same name. It's slow to build, but even at its most leisurely, there's the certain impression that Uzva haven't left much up to chance or spontaneity. The album's middle movement "Afrodite" is arguably the best of the three; it's helped a great deal by its warm atmosphere and focused attention on melodic lines. "Drontti" (an unassuming epic that reaches past the seventeen minute mark) continues the increasing momentum; after a short acoustic intermezzo ("Drontti 3.1"), Uzva pick up the pace and don't let up until the album is over. I might argue Uzva milk the finale too long for their own good (the otherwise mellow album has a near-ridiculously bombastic conclusion) but it is good to hear a more energetic side of Uzva before Niittoaika finishes up.

While the finale might leave listeners with a different impression, Niittoaika is a fairly mellow album; while the band themselves are tight and clearly focused (this stuff is undeniably far more difficult to pull off than the relaxed atmosphere might imply) Niittoaika demands nothing of its listener. Fans of progressive rock may see this as a fault. From where I'm coming from, it sounds like Uzva have done something that many in modern prog have attempted, and few others have actually managed to pull off; they've taken the traditional aesthetic of the genre and made it their own. Niittoaika lacks the boldness to rewrite the book as it were, but the vision here is refreshing and, above all, enjoyable.

Conor Fynes | 4/5 |

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