This is the second full length release from Kimmo Pörsti, Finnish percussionist, multi-instrumentalist and producer best known for his work with The Samurai of Prog who's bassist, Marco Bernard contributes to 4 of the thirteen tracks amongst a fine ensemble of international music talent. Some 20 musicians, including the main man have contributed to this wildly entertaining collection painting from a broad musical palette.
Yes, symphonic prog style cinematic instrumental passages are very much in evidence, particular on the opening triplet of tracks, but Connection Lost brings the Celtic flavourings which had hitherto remained a subtext right to the fore. From here it's all changes are go. Jenny Darren comes in to provide vocals on the not particularly notable Morning Mist a ballad with some pleasant instrumentals, but who's main purpose on this collection seems to be to step away from what has preceded it, as Thunkit breaks into frenetic jazz-rock featuring coruscating guitar and keyboards from Dave Bainbridge (Iona, Lifesigns, Strawbs). Darren is back for the title track and deserved centrepiece of the album which serves her much better as a vehicle for her expressive, melancholic, blues-tinged vocal, given merely a sparse arrangement of guitar, flute, bass and some strings, she is given much more space to work her magic with a spellbinding ode.
If Southern Cross is mostly worth staying with for the extended keyboard workouts from Jaime Rosas, Witch Watch is back to jazz-tinged rock, Marek Arnold's saxophone sparkles like champagne, cutting away for a funk-soul piano theme as though the Average White Band or Steely Dan had joined the jam, all the while Jari Riitala's bass hums sublimely and is deservedly thrust into the spotlight for a short solo. The next track This Day Is Yours provides more contrast as straight rock showcases Kev Moore's vocal, while Heavy Winter is a pleasing rock instrumental, choppy chords providing a turbulent rhythm, with threatening guitar riffed undertones and blizzard like lead runs provided by Kari Riihimäki. If that represented the storm, the next track Icy Storm is its aftermath, Jenny Darren again shines wistfully with flute and blues guitar accompaniment and Celtic tinged violin. If the mode is regret, the hard ice of defiance is strangely warming and my only regret was that the closing guitar solo was allowed to fade out. The closing track, Mika strikes an wistful tone and ends on a downbeat a pleasingly reflective and nostalgic reminiscence.
This solo project is a good showcase for Pörsti's wide-ranging output and fans of his other projects will find much to enjoy here. For others this will provide a worthy gateway into his musical world. Welcome Wayfarer - enjoy the trip!
**** Andrew Cottrell
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