La Tierra is the second album from Marco Bernard & Kimmo Pörsti, from The Samurai Of Prog. In fact it is the second release by this pairing in 2020, which given their work with The Guildmaster, two TSOP albums and the odd solo effort must class as some sort of record. A year which has induced creative stasis in some, entailed necessary compromise for others has had no such effect on this duo, joined here by a treasure chest bursting with talented musicians.
Given the prolific output, it would be unsurprising if occasionally the quality slipped a little, maybe some filler here or there, it's 70 minutes on the album, that fills up a CD and so often bands fill the space with tired ideas when they would be better leaving flawed projects behind. In fact here it is almost a case of the opposite. This release crackles with enthusiasm, gorges on talent and packs quality into every digit of space. It would be easy to concentrate on the 30-minute epic title track, which will rightly command attention. But every time I listen to this album, which has been numerous occasions now, I am drawn to a new feature, whether grandiose traditional prog rock or contemplative piano, full blown rocket-fuelled keyboards, exultant lead violin playing or coruscating guitar, there is hardly a bar out of place.
Yes, it is prog for those who prefer a traditional approach. Nothing to have the guardians of the genre spitting out their dummies here and a safe refuge from dangerous deviations. But it is played with respect, joy and great artistry and for that we can all be grateful. Background has previously given a whole hearted recommendation to Bernard and Porsti's work to those who are fond of the tians of good old symphonic prog rock, and I'm not going to deviate one bit from that. Hugely enjoyable.
***** Andrew Cottrell
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