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Album Review by Rick Tilley

9/10

Back in the far flung days of my youth I was a huge fan of instrumental albums, particularly those in the guitar shred genre. My love of these was kick-started by the playing of Mr Yngwie Malmsteen, who I thought was amazing. Now I know this will probably alienate many of his fans, Elmo Karjalainen included, but after seeing him live I was less impressed because that’s where I discovered that everything Malmsteen played was improvised, so the wonderful solos and passages he created on his albums were never recreated on stage! This led me to discover other guitarists that planned things out so that, in a live setting, songs sounded similar to their album counterparts. Joe Satriani, Jason Becker, Marty Friedman and, my absolute favourite, Tony MacAlpine blew me away with their technical ability and I spent many happy hours listening to their albums along with many others.

Over the years, whilst still buying the odd Satriani or MacAlpine release, my musical interest moved elsewhere and I haven’t heard an instrumental guitar album, or guitarist of this ilk, that’s really floored me for many years. That changed late last year when I started talking to Finnish guitarist Elmo Karjalainen. I had downloaded his ‘Free Guitar Album’ (Available on Bandcamp), which is superb, and he said that he would send me a copy of his new album ‘Age Of Heroes’ when it was finished and that it included some special guests that I would find very interesting! Elmo duly sent me a fabulous package through the post, which I thank him for most wholeheartedly, and it has been a mainstay on my stereo for about four weeks now. Quite simply, ‘Age Of Heroes’ has completely re-ignited my passion for this type of music. This man is absolutely stunning on the guitar and even though it says in the Press Release and info sent that he does improvise sometimes and that there are a fair few mistakes on show, the songs are so beautifully written that I really cannot see that as a problem and can he please point out the mistakes because, to my ear, absolutely nothing sounds fluffed on this CD.

Elmo doesn’t shred aimlessly like many guitarists, there is such a variety of musical styles evident here and all are played with huge passion as well as magnificent skill that I really cannot fault it. ‘Warm Welcome’ is a beautifully quiet and calm way to start, in fact very Pink Floyd and a perfect counterpoint to the following song. ‘How Can Less Be More’ is that song and the title is a homage to the aforementioned Malmsteen, who is one of Elmo’s favourite guitarists. He throws the kitchen sink at this song and in several places sounds very like the big man, but in my honest opinion better, because there are all sorts of other influences here as well, especially Steve Vai!

Up next is ‘The Colour Of Greed’ and this song includes one of the special guests, none other than Keyboard Maestro Derek Sherinian (Alice Cooper, Billy Idol, Dream Theater, Black Country Communion and many more). This is a stunning track and the keyboard/guitar battle is phenomenal. One of my favourite songs on this album is ‘Chikken Noodul’ which is next and this calms everything down again in a very eerie way. It sounds to me like it would be perfect in a 1940’s Philip Marlowe film. I don’t know why that is but I picture it every time I hear the song.

Next is ‘A Fertile Discussion’ and includes the wonderful Mattias IA Ecklundh (Freak Kitchen) on guitar. Their styles complement one another perfectly, in fact so well that he also pops up again later in the album on ‘Falling For Falafels. ‘A Fertile discussion also ends on the melody from ‘The Simpsons’

I could go on at length about all the tracks here because Elmo has supplied me with so much information and the CD Booklet also contains track by track descriptions but I want you to discover this album for yourselves and be taken to any number of places that it might conjure up in your imagination. What I do need to tell you though is that Elmo is also an extremely funny and intelligent man and there are several spoken interludes peppered throughout the album that will definitely make you smile. That humour and good nature also seeps into some of his playing when he wants it to and it’s a joy!

In 2016 Elmo got into the top 8 in Yngwie Malmsteen’s Guitar Gods competition in Miami and the eventual winners Janne Nieminen and Emil Pohjalainen also appear on the song ’A Meeting Of The Gods (And This Guy)’. There must be something in the water in Finland because all of them are utterly incredible. Whilst I love technical ability, which everyone playing here has in spades, what I miss with some of these types of albums is emotion; however, Elmo Karjalainen has got lorry loads of the stuff. Just imagine Vai and MacAlpine playing with Jeff Beck and throw in a little bit of Monty Python and you’re there!

He has said the next album will be purely acoustic and I, for one, cannot wait to hear what is going to happen. In the meantime please go and check out one of the finest guitarists and instrumental albums I’ve heard in twenty years. Absolutely mind-blowing

When it comes to shred guitar, most would probably think that it's a played out genre that lacks any originality of any kind. This is enthusiastically not the case for Elmo Karjalainen's fourth album Age of Heroes. Not only are the songs uniquely original, but there are some stellar guest appearances on the album, as well. While the Yngwie Malmsteen influence is rather obvious, it's not so blatant that it's unenjoyable. The song How Can Less Be More is a big nod to Mssr. Malmsteen's mentality that more is definitely more. However, the Malmsteen influence is understandable. Elmo was a finalist in Yngwie's Guitar Gods competition in 2016, and it's undeniable that some of that greatness has rubbed off onto him.

The guest appearances on the album are flat out stellar. Derek Sherinian's keyboard solo on The Colour of Greed makes an amazing song even greater. The back-and-forth between those two masters of their respective instruments makes one wish and hope to see these two onstage at some point. They remind one of the potent combination of Yngwie and Jens Johansson trying to outdo one another onstage and in the studio. Mattias IA Eklundh also delivers some stinging solos on the songs A Fertile Discussion and Falling For Falafels respectively. His style compliments Elmo's playing wonderfully. You really feel like it's two guys sitting down in the studio enjoying each other's company and feeding of one another creatively rather than two guys eager to shred over audio files. Lastly, Janne Nieminen and Emil Pohjlainen exchange solos on the song A Meeting of the Gods (And This Guy). These two guitar maestros were some of Elmo's competition for the 2016 Guitar Gods experience he had. And after listening to that song, one has to check both of those players out. Simply phenomenal playing, and each individual solo adds to the quality of the song.

Typically albums full of guest stars like this tend to have subpar songs throughout the rest of the album. That is not the case here. Age Of Heroes is of the same quality as Steve Vai's Fire Garden album. Of course you can find shred guitar in plenty, but the playing touches on rather deeply complex topics such as politics and even life itself. But life isn't life without humor, and there are a few moments where you'll find yourself giggling at the funny bits on the album here and there.

All in all, this is a very satisfying album to listen to again and again. Each time you listen, you discover another layer of complexity that is thoroughly enjoyable. It's horribly inaccurate to label Elmo as the Finnish Yngwie because he has developed his own sound and style that is uniquely his own. In the liner notes of the album, he hints that the next record will be an acoustic one. It will be intriguing to see what he comes up with next, but one hopes that he will return to the electric guitar very soon. Expect to hear greater things from this guy. You won't be disappointed at all.

‘Elmo Karjalainen’ may not be a name too familiar with some but all that may about to change with what will be his 4th studio release entitled ‘Age Of Heroes’ what is on offer here is not only a shredtastic piece of art but also a rival for Satriani, Vai, Bumblefoot that’s played with real passion and feeling. There is also an element of humour added as an appearance or two by an English gentleman and a Scotchman throughout the album.

Tracks like the Malmsteen infused ‘How Can Less Be More’ ‘The Colour Of Greed’ and ‘A Meeting Of The Gods’ are all on the shredtastic side with some fantastic riffs chops and licks that would have messirs Satriani and Vai quaking in their boots.

There is also some very good blues infused masterpieces ‘Blue Eyes’ being a stand out slow thought provoking inspiring dreamy piece, the equally inspiring ‘Three Days Of Piece’ with slow dreamy keys provided by Derek Sherinian(Billy Idol, Dream Theater, Alice Cooper) and if you thought these were dreamy ‘Chikken Noodul’ and ‘Sunset’ take a real dreamy turn as you drift away in a slumber of six string heaven, As Elmo takes you on a sun-soaked soulful voyage along the fretboard of blissful harmony.

Title track ‘Age Of Heroes’ has a much deeper, darker sound with heavy riffs and a bassline that will pound your senses added too the majestic solos and fretboard wizardry.

Elmo Karjalainen’s ‘Age Of Heroes’ is not just a shredders delight it is much much more, soulful, witty and probaly one of the best guitar orientated, blues infused, soul searching pieces of instrumental beauty in the past 10 years.

Rating 10

Elmo Karjalainens album Age Of Heroes kicks off with a Pink Floyd Shine On You Crazy Diamondesque intro where nothing much happens for a couple of minutes before announcing “I will Not Buy This Record because it is scratched.” From that sentence this album is a full on, old school, shred album with more arpeggios, pentatonics, sweeps & in general even more whammy bar abuse that it should be made illegal.

Not only is this a proper instrumental guitar album, it also features keyboard maestro Derek Sherinian (Planet X & Ex Dream Theater) on a couple of tracks.

The most magical aspect of this album is the passion & emotion that Elmo has put into it. There is that much feeling that he has even left in the mistakes that you will only spot if you’re a complete instrumentalist geek.

Age of Heroes is a fun album. Lots of silliness with subtle nods (a slow Simpsons tune on the end of A Fertile Discussion),  the Yngwie Malmsteen inspired How Can Less Be More & drop tuning of the title track that would make even Meshuggah envious.

This is everything you want & more in a guitar instrumental album & then some. A progressive guitar album that will make your ears hit the floor & your tongue drag across the ceiling.

There’s even a ballad but don’t let that put you off.

This is probably the best shred album since Joe Satrianis Surfin’ With The Alien that will make you want to burn your own guitar & break your fingers so you could never play again. It really is that good.

Elmo Karjalainen – The Free Guitar Album – Album Review

The album starts out HOT! Elmo Karjalainen comes out absolutely crushing the guitar licks on the opening of The Free Guitar Album with “Instrumetal.” Intense and mind-blowingly well-played – Elmo starts off this album with a masterpiece guitar epic that tears the place up from left to right. There is no way you can follow a song like this with anything disappointing to follow…my years of experience have taught me that you can’t get it this RIGHT like Elmo does on “Instrumetal” and come anywhere close to writing something so horrendous we’d turn it off after setting a precision-standard of gold-star excellence like he does on this first rock song on The Free Guitar Album. And even though these guitar-stars tend to often program the drums in their songs…the ones that do it well do it VERY well…and I love what Elmo has put into this opening tune.

Between the sounds of “Instrumetal” and the following-cut “Don’t Quit Yer Day Job” really reminded me of a certain guitar hero of my own; actually many of them would. And sure…some people will tell you there’s no difference between a Vai or a Satriani…to me there always has been. If this doesn’t remind you of Steve Vai’s skill and song-writing style, particularly around the Sex & Religion and maybe earlier like Alien Love Secrets type-Vai…that’s what I hear in the hard-cutting edge in the music of Elmo. BUT…dear readers…the reason why I’m suggesting it would be Vai as an influence would be because of his relationship with Zappa…and the amount of sheer ATTITUDE you could hear in the music they played; and you can hear that in Karjalainen’s playing – this is a man that can really make the guitar speak to you and convey all the passion, emotion & all-things-ROCK in his music.

Of course to be mentioned in the same breath as any of these references truly speaks to the level of skill, power & precision of Karjalainen’s work. It’s extremely well-deserved – this man has clearly put his life into learning his craft and every second of it shows on this recording. After another Vai-esque break in the music through “Clark-san” informing us that we’d be listening to an instrumental track coming up, we launch into the sonic-stratosphere once again with the push/pull of “Incontinental Breakfast.”

You know something? I love instrumental songs simply for the fact that someone out there has to at LEAST put some words in as a title. “Incontinental Breakfast?” I mean…c’mon! If that’s not an indication of a man who’s spent some time in the Zappa catalogue I just don’t know what is…definitely an nod to some humour if you were to ask me! The beginning of this cut comes out so smooth that you literally have no idea how hard it’ll get – it comes out of nowhere. And so I’m sitting here, laughing out loud & loving the music, thinking to myself – ‘how bad could this breakfast have possibly been?’ as the music transforms into creative-chaos controlled perfectly by Elmo. Well done sir…you’ve certainly got me smiling…and man is this album stockpiled with an audible respect for the genre or what? Awesome.

The gorgeously dark & beautiful melody of “She Sleeps On The Moon” is like Elmo’s own rock-ballad opus akin to “For The Love Of God” from Vai’s Passion And Warfare. Excellent solo-work on a constant basis – ‘Mo’s a real pro there’s no doubt about that whatsoever this far into the album and my instincts of excellence to follow moment one on this album have proven true as every second reveals itself. I mean…listen to him SHRED apart “Algorhythm!” This guy’s axe could slay an axe-murderer; I’d bet on Elmo every time. Right around the three-minute mark of both “She Sleeps On The Moon” and “Algorhythm” hold some of the best moments on this album…the solo that starts up about three-and-a-half into “She Sleeps On The Moon” is just deadly awesome. The punishing stop/start drumbeat of “Algorhythm” would damn near take a mathematician just to play guitar to it…yet here again we find Elmo unrelenting, confident and completely triumphant.

And yeah…okay…I know “Noises” isn’t supposed to be a standout so much as a quick break in the madness…but I loved it. Less than forty-seconds of subtle sounds burbling in the background distance…it serves its purpose like the snack between meals.

Hahaha…alright…so…get this…I gotta interrupt this whole thing for a moment with a quick fun-fact about Elmo cause I just looked up his social media to see where he’s coming to us from. Turns out…he’s from Finland…but the best thing I read about Elmo? Apparently the man himself is ‘almost totally unlike David Hasselhof’ – what can I say other than I knew there were at least trace-elements of The Hof in him. There are at least trace-elements and particles of The Hof in us all, isn’t there?

“The Gentle Art Of Listening” sees Elmo back to the serious-side on this slow-burning beauty. This song has such an excellent churn and grind to it…it’s nearly a droning-effect on the listener…but like the title suggests, this tune pulls you in closely and just as you might expect it would churn away forever, Elmo switches it up on you once again. Blasting off into incredible solos that command attention…this guy should absolutely be playing the same massive stages as the true rock-virtuosos of our time. His touch on the strings is so insanely authentic…listen to his work from the fourth-minute on forward during “The Gentle Art Of Listening” and hear how this guy lets the notes buzz in and out, or ring through clearly; his instincts never let him down – Elmo makes completely captivating instrumental rock.

The light & airy ending of “The Gentle Art Of Listening” makes way for the low-end heavy groove and onslaught to come in “The Bolero Unravels (I Come Undone)” which sounds like a complete war between countries raised and finished within this one song – or at the very least one epic game of Risk. It sounds like the march of doom…or like whatever is in Elmo’s way should seriously consider getting OUT of it… Really huge sounds on this song and when you realize you’re nearly at the end of The Free Guitar Album it’s almost like walking out of the dark movie-theater into midday sunshine…you get that ‘what just happened and where am I’ feeling when coming out of “The Bolero Unravels (I Come Undone).”

And yet…somehow it’s like Elmo Karjalainen knew that this is exactly how I’d feel, and in his gentle wisdom provided us with a hazy, dreamlike final song with “Relax.” Nice right? Seriously…this final cut displays just as much mastery as the up-tempo rock songs do if not even more so…Elmo has nowhere to hide in this final song and you can hear every perfect note with crystal clarity and its incredible way revealing genuine emotion through its melody.

What else can be said? From start to finish…this is one jaw-dropper of an album and full of astounding highlight moments in musicianship. If you like to hear real skill and the perfect love of the musical craft on full display…and you dig on instrumental-rock…do yourself a huge favour and go pick up The Free Guitar Album – you need this one.

Elmo Karjalainen: “The Free Guitar Album” delivers hard-rocking riffs and wicked tones!

Elmo Karjalainen is a guitar player from Finland, rated as one of the best rock guitar players in his home country, due to his work with the Finnish metal band Deathlike Silence, as well as the release of his solo album Unintelligent Designs”. Elmo also plays in the bands Seagrave and Conquest, and he has recently been touring with the nationally famous collective, Kilpi.

After receiving large doses of critical acclaim for his solo album, Unintelligent Designs”, Elmo decided to follow it up with another solo project called The Free Guitar Album”. In fact, alluding to the album title, the digital version is free!

Elmo Karjalainen

Elmo Karjalainen does not just embody technical guitar prowess – his is a very deep exploration of all the possibilities on a guitar, and it pushes the envelope of instrumental imagination – very evident on the tracks “Don’t Quit Your Day Job” and “Noises”. But The Free Guitar Album” as a whole will make you realize that Elmo Karjalainen is not simply a guitar player, he is a living extension of the instrument itself. I think these days too many people think that the point of music is ‘hooks’. If you refuse to listen to any music that doesn’t have some kind of hook or catchy riff that makes you tap your foot or nod your head, you will lead a very sheltered musical life.

In this album, Elmo Karjalainen will make you nod your head and tap your feet, but moreover he takes a much more mature approach to music, and creates a combination of catchiness on certain pieces (“She Sleeps On The Moon”), raw power on some (“Instrumental”), and sheer emotion in others (“The Bolero Unravels” and “Incontinental Breakfast”). You also have the absolute delicacy and wonderfully simple composition in “Relax”, and then the wondrous power and experimentation in “Algorhythm”, which showcases some moments that can only be described as divine.

Elmo-Karjalainen

Everything plays and revolves around Elmo’s guitar-work, as he isn’t afraid to show off his immense talent with the guitar, breaking out into Rock-Fusion riffs or Metal licks, spontaneously, and then switching forward to breakneck shredding or a calm solo. On this album Elmo Karjalainen shows that he is representative of creative rock guitar players. But he is more than just a guitar player, he’s a musician; his technique is sublime, and his musicianship and above-the-norm, melodic sense, is superb too.

The song structures on The Free Guitar Album” are intelligent and evolve in unpredictable ways, but are never too complex for the listener’s ears. He delivers hard-rocking riffs and wicked tones, while maintaining a clear melodic sense and integrity that makes the compositions come to life. Elmo Karjalainen’s songs are very well thought out; not the endless repetitive licks you hear from so many others. His sound is unique and very inventive.

This is definitely the album to get for people who are new to Elmo, and/or instrumental guitar-rock. This is all instrumental, except for the odd spoken interlude. It contains awesome melodies and techniques… and whatever the hell you ever thought could be done with an electric guitar!

Elmo Karjalainen - The Free Guitar Album

2015 –KC Sound, Finland
By Phillip Smith; Aug. 7, 2015
Finnish guitarist Elmo Karjalainen’s latest venture and his second solo album is an extraordinary showcase of guitar mastery.   The Free Guitar Album features eight original compositions. Download the digital version of the album for free off Karjalainen’s own website www.elmojk.com, or purchase a hard copy CD, and get three additional tracks, featuring alternate guitar solos. 
It’s awe-inspiring to hear Karjalainen tear through the opening track, simply named “Instrumental”, with tremendous force.  I love the display of versatility as this track segues into “Don’t Quit Yer Day Job”, an intriguing melody with a funky rhythm not afraid to show its metal underbelly.
Karjalainen shows his softer side on “She Sleeps on the Moon”, an amazingly beautiful composition providing a lush and trippy listen.  Another track taking ownership of his softer side is the peaceful and floaty “Relax”, a wonderful piece for meditation.   

Karjalainen is a phenomenal guitarist, and The Free Guitar Album is a sweet deal.  Visit his website, and give it a listen.

Music Review: Elmo Karjalainen – The Free Guitar Album

Finnish guitarist Elmo Karjalainen may be serious about his playing, but he can infuse his unique sense of humor into it as well.

Known for his work with Finish metal band Deathlike Sentence, Karjalainen plays in the bands Seagrave and Conquest and has been recently touring with the band Kilpi.  He follows up his critically acclaimed solo album, Intelligent Designs, with his second, The Free Guitar Album.  The title could imply this is a no-hold bar showcase of instrumental rock guitar playing and to this end, it doesn’t disappoint.

Don’t let the track list with titles such as “Don’t Quit Yer Day Job”, “Noises”, and “The Gentle Art of Listening” fool you; there is serious shredding on this quirky album and it’s mixed with an intriguing melodic style and a bit of humerous fun.

The fast and furious opening track “Instrumetal” and the track “Incontinental Breakfast” both have a definite Joe Satriani influence to them.  The opener however, has a drum accompaniment that tends to distract you from enjoying the wonderful wailing of the guitar.  The fierceness of the track “Incontinental Breakfast” would have made it the stronger opener.

The first of four stand out tracks is “The Bolero Unravels (I Come Undone)”. The title is a subtle pun or double-entendre: a play on the original composers name (“Maurice Ravel”) of the 1928 orchestral composition “Bolero”.  Karjalainen has masterfully reproduced this classical composition into a rock guitar instrumental. His fingers whip up and down the guitar fret with the ferocity and technical precision of a frenzied bull chasing the matador’s swooping cape. The sequence builds until the last high note is struck at the end, leaving you feeling as undone as the song title promises.

On “She Sleeps on the Moon” Karjalainen plays a wonderful progression of intense wails interspersed with fast chord changes. The shrill last notes cry out, making  you feel as though you’ve been happily floating along an endless landscape but now realize you’re heading no where. Perhaps that is how one feels sleeping on the moon.

“Algorhythm” captures your imagination. As the marching sound of the drum pounds in the background, Karjalainen turns his guitar into a menagerie  of sounds. There is the meticulous shred that turns into the call of a whale, followed by the wha-wha of wild and furious chord changes, then slows down momentarily, and circles back for more intense shredding, ending with the deep vibration of the last notes.

“Relax” is aptly named for the last track of this high energy album. Surprisingly, it is a very beautiful, slow melodic arrangement where each note calmly washes over you. This is one for repeat play whenever you want to soothe your soul.

Rounding out the track list is the slow burning “The Gentle Art of Listening”, the in-your-face “Noise”,  the quirky “Don’t Quit Yer Day Job”, and the humorous spoken word track, “Clark-San”.

Throughout the album you can certainly hear  Steve Vai, Jeff Beck, Joe Satriani, and other influences but overall, Elmo Karjalainen’s own unique style and impressive guitar playing skills break through. He will certainly take you on a journey you won’t soon forget.

Highly Recommended. Don’t miss out on this one. Get The Free Guitar Album available exclusively at Elmo’s website: www.elmojk.com  The digital version is free.  There is also a limited CD version featuring alternative solos on She Sleeps on the Moon, Algorhythm, and Don’t Quit Yer Day Job.

ALBUM REVIEW: The Free Guitar Album by Elmo Karjalainen

Elmo Karjalainen is a composer/musician and, in particular, a virtuoso guitar player hailing from Finland. He has become recognised as one of the best guitarists in his native land through his work with Finnish metal band Deathlike Silence, as well as his solo album Unintelligent Designs. He currently plays in two bands, Seagrave and Conquest, and has recently toured with a band of national fame, Kilpi.

Following the critical praise for his first solo album Unintelligent Designs, Elmo decided on making this follow-up (the title is literal, the digital version of the album is free!). It consists of ten instrumental tracks that showcase Elmo’s unique style and versatility as a guitarist, as well as a compositional style that encompasses a wide array of influences and genres.

Opening track, Instrumetal (that’s a pun, not a typo), is a blistering start to the album. Swirling low-end riffs interlock with tight drum patterns played at a formidable tempo, before Elmo unleashes his lead guitar skills over the top. Playing a simple high-end melody, it’s not long before he is whizzing up and down the neck, though it is until the last minute that he truly lets rip with an astonishingly fluent solo.

His style is reminiscent of guitarists like Steve Vai, Joe Satriani and Yngwie Malmsteen, though he also cites less obvious influences like Jeff Beck and the late Danny Hatton. Elmo also has a strong sense of humour, which emerges in track titles like second track Don’t Quit Yer Day Job and the following Incontinental Breakfast, which is preceded by a rather amusing spoken word intro in a stereotypical English accent.

Musically, the former is a mid-paced track with a loping, half-time groove for the most part, with some intricate sections of complex drumming and guitar work. The soloing here is free and unrestrained, capturing Elmo’s quirky side perfectly. Incontinental Breakfast has a similar feel to begin with until an intense middle section featuring thunderous double-kick and stellar guitar playing.

She Sleeps On The Moon is a big contrast, showing Elmo’s more mellow, melodic side. His classical influence is displayed in the harp-like minor key arpeggio that floats through the track and, for the first half, his playing is subtle and understated. As the piece progresses, he takes the melody all over the neck, though it sounds crafted and structured rather than random virtuosity for its own sake.

The complex time signature of sixth track Algorithms shows his prog rock influences (he cites Genesis as one of his favourite bands). Starting with a circular, looping high-end riff, the beat continually shifts under your feet as we say farewell to 4/4 time, temporarily. The main section is in 7/8 but the use of syncopation and displaced accents make it a challenging but exciting listen. I loved the ascending bassline that enters halfway, before Elmo begins yet another mindblowing solo. After this, it all becomes eerily calm before building up again, this section containing some exceptional drumming. This track especially shows Elmo’s musical command and understanding.

Noises is literally forty seconds of noises, more evidence of Elmo’s sense of humour! The Gentle Art Of Listening , the eighth track, is one of the more epic on the album. It proceeds at a stately pace with a simple but powerful three-note lead guitar melody. This sounds gorgeous when the harmony part is added, but the simplicity doesn’t last….
For the middle section, the beat stays in 4/4 but, again, the clever use of shifting accents disturbs the natural momentum and the listener finds his attention thrown from side to side. These subtle complexities make the music rather gripping and addictive, and I loved the choral sounding synth towards the end.

Ninth track, The Bolero Unravels (I Come Undone), is an interesting idea for a piece as it is based on the famous insistent, repeated rhythmic motif of Ravel’s Bolero (nice pun on the composer’s name there). It takes that idea and becomes brooding, mid-paced prog-metal, showing the strong relationship between classical and metal, which is not acknowledged enough.

This classical influence shows in the album’s closing track, Relax. It is another expression of a gentler, more melodic side and his compositional craft. It consists of a haunting, arpeggio-based guitar part, with a sparse but beautiful lead guitar melody that floats over the top, which he then extemporizes. It has a soothing, hypnotic effect that brought to mind Fleetwood Mac’s Albatross and makes for a lovely ending.

Overall, this is a very accomplished album of sophisticated metal/prog rock, that showcases not only his remarkable abilities as a guitarist but also his musical range and understanding. The music is not merely a vehicle to display his playing prowess, but intricate, structured and controlled composition that stands up to repeated listening. This album will appeal hugely to fans of (prog) rock, metal and guitar music in general.

Alex Faulkner

Verdict: 8.4 out of 10

 

Becoming a master of your instrument takes tons of hard work but also there has to be some in-born talent that needs to be nurtured and exposed to the world.  The guitar is probably the most played instrument in the world.  It is a tough skill to learn and even harder to excel.  We recently discovered Elmo Karjalainen who has done just that.

Hailing from the home of many quality metal guitarists, Finland, Elmo has now offered some solo work to highlight his skills.  Born in 1979 he has been learning how to play for almost his entire life.  Some fame came his way with the Finnish metal band Deathlike Silence and his more recent bands Seagrave and Conquest and even Kipli.  Elmo put out his first solo album, Unintelligent Designs to critical praise and now is about to follow it up.

On June 11th Elmo released his followup record The Free Guitar Album.  The 10 track opus is full of examples of a truly skilled guitar player.  On “Don’t Quit Your Day Job” Elmo plays with some interesting effects as the song builds to a crescendo of mass hysteria that will drop your jaw.  There are some slowed down pieces like “She Sleeps On The Moon” that show the diversity and prove Elmo is not a one trick speed pony.  The energy returns on “Algorhythm” with some powerful playing and some strong drums that fit perfectly with his guitar.  The album closer “Relax” does just what the title says by creating a smooth lullaby that seems to mesmerize your mind.

Elmo Karjalainen - 'The Free Guitar Record'

Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.

It’s tough to make money in the independent music game. All of the artists here on the Independent Spotlight know that, and I imagine my readers do as well. So what do you do when you’re at the top of your game, but struggling to push album sales? Well, if you’re Finnish guitarist Elmo Karjalainen, you make a free album. Then, you call it ‘The Free Guitar Record.’

Karjalainen has made a name for himself over the years in his home country performing in the Finnish metal band, Deathlike Silence. More recently, his solo endeavors have been remarkably well received, such as the critically acclaimed ‘Unintelligent Designs.’ ‘The Free Guitar Record’ is a follow-up to that album, one where Karjalainen has thrown all monetary pursuits to the side. Apart from donations here and there, he’s not making a living off this music. He is damn passionate about it, though, and he’s hoping that passion will propel him forward.

I love the idea of making free independent music; Jukebox Podcast listeners know this all too well, since I went on a whole explanation last month of why lesser-known indie artists should release music for free. This selfless approach to music suits Karjalainen incredibly well; ‘The Free Guitar Record’ feels uninhibited by self-absorption or commercial pursuits. It’s a straight up guitar rocker record, sure to get you going if you’re a person who digs a good jam.

The album opens up with an instrumental interlude, one that showcases Karjalainen’s prowess right out of the gate. It’s a long instrumental, though, and overstays its welcome after a few minutes. The minor blunder is quickly recovered on the eclectic ‘Don’t Quit Yer Day Job,’ an experimental tune with a lot of meat on the bone. ‘Clark-San,’ the following track, isn’t actually a song. It’s just an Englishman announcing the fact he’s on a record. It’s actually dryly funny, in that wonderful English way. I’m not sure if dry humor was the intent of ‘Clark-San,’ but I got a kick out of it that way.

‘Intercontinental Breakfast’ continues Karjalainen’s pursuit for innovative riffs and song titles. It’s not my favorite track because it feels a bit stale quickly, but ‘She Sleeps on the Moon’ picks up that ball and runs with it. That latter song is beautiful, an atmospheric jam doused in reverb and synthesizers. It’s a gorgeous ballad and it’s certainly the highlight of the first half of ‘The Free Guitar Record.’

If you were getting lulled to sleep by the delicate ‘She Sleeps on the Moon,’ ‘Algorhythm’ is sure as hell going to wake you right back up. Karjalainen’s performance on each track is reminiscent of classic metal stylings. Also, his banter with a solid backing band shouldn’t go unnoticed, either. The bassist and drummer here are right on target and without them, this record wouldn’t be one half as interesting.

‘Noises’ is another oddball interlude, showcasing what seems to be a soundtrack for one of Thom Yorke’s daydreams. The classic rock-tinged ‘The Gentle Art of Listening’ then follows, shredding up and down in cascading waves of epicness. ‘The Bolero Unravels’ feels like the pinnacle of the second act of the album, toying with unique styles and melodies that feel fresh and compelling. Finally, the, well... relaxing ‘Relax’ closes the collection in blissful solitude.

‘The Free Guitar Record’ is most certainly worth the price of admission, or lack thereof. In fact, if you dig it, you should drop a few bucks Karjalainen’s way. A lot of effort went into this piece and it’s a wonderful experience. With that said, Karjalainen doesn’t fully escape the main issue instrumental solo acts have: remaining consistently interesting throughout. These songs are all fine and good in doses, but the entire experience in one sitting melds together into a blanket of guitar noodling and shredding. It’s a bit difficult to differentiate some of the tracks as well. This isn’t exclusive to Karjalainen, almost every person in his shoes struggles with this. He navigates those waters better than most, though, and ‘The Free Guitar Album’ isn’t a bad exhibition of that. It’s not an astounding record, but it’s a very solid effort that you’ll likely find more rewarding in smaller, concentrated doses.

Elmo Karjalainen The Free Guitar Album CD Review

Don’t Quit Yer Day Job is an intricate track that links together guitar, bass, and drums to create a dense effort that tells more through the instrumental interactions than many bands can do with vocals and a full backing band. The path that Elmo takes fans on during this introductory track will ensure that one stays on the edges of their seat until the album finishes, especially as he takes the composition in a much more heavy, metal-laden approach. Incontinental Breakfast builds off of the work of Eric Johnson, Impellitteri and Warren DeMartini. Rather than only soaring above the track with sizzling guitars, Karjalainen is able to lay down some down and dirty riffs that push the rest of the track into an entirely higher plateau. The production on The Free Guitar Album allows each of the elements to shine alone or as one cohesive effort, meaning that She Sleeps on the Moon is able to sparkle with introspective arrangements and simply brutal guitar work.

Karjalainen is able to create a close grouping of each of the tracks on The Free Guitar Album, but the different tacks that he takes are enough to increase the replay value of the volume considerably. She Sleeps on the Moon exists in a late seventies / early eighties meta dynamic (Dokken, Blizzard of Ozz-era Ozzy) but is spun in a bold new direction with inclusions of Wings and Styx. The Bolero Unravels (I Come Undone) has a chugging heaviness that is countered nicely by a classical Spanish-styled line, creating something intense enough to headband to while finessed enough to be a work of art. The same thing can be said about the whole of The Free Guitar Album.

Top Tracks: Don’t Quit Yer Day Job The Bolero Unravels (I Come Undone)

Rating: 8.7/10

Elmo Karjalainen is a killer prog guitarist from Finland. His playing is at once Petruccie-esque but also its own thing. He has a masterful control over his instrument and his playing is truly something to hear. He is a true virtuoso and will blow your mind to shreds. Needless to say the guitar playing on his work is simply stellar. [...] In conclusion, the instrumental guitar wizardry of Elmo Karjalainen is inspiring and his playing is something that you will not soon forget!

Anyway Karjalainen's new solo album Unintelligent Designs [...] contains a wide array of stellar guitar work reflecting metal/prog/fusion influences with more way humor & soul than angst.

What stands out about Elmo's playing is the great tones he gets; his Allan Holdsworth "blow into the note" attack and very expressive phrasing. Able to shred with the best of them, Elmo also likes to stretch out his notes and phrases in a tasteful melodic fashion-- showcasing his tonal range and trem approach.

He really […] sticks out in the solos, but those are frequent and very well done, not too short but also lacking any sort of over-indulgent bid to impress listeners with sheer virtuosity for virtuosity’s sake. And this chap is a virtuoso and could probably play endless guitar duels with the likes of Malmsteen, but the beauty of it is that he doesn’t. Instead he always keeps his playing within the limits of the tasteful and never uses a song as a mere unimportant vehicle for showing off. His solo melodies are well-crafted and fit well harmonically, he shows flashes of blinding speed but not too often, he even cracks a great joke […]. There’s nothing left to be desired here.

The Review:

Back in the mid-80s I had a musician friend who was an avid fan and collector of solo instrumental guitar albums, or what some would call "muso albums". They were the sort of albums that were advertised in the pages of Guitar Player Magazine and always promised some blinding fret-work from the newest stars of the heavy guitar world, which at the time would have included names like Joe Satriani, Tony MacAlpine, Marty Friedman, Paul Gilbert & Vinnie Moore. Those albums no doubt contained some good music, but their main appeal was always to fellow musicians who could appreciate all the intricacies, techniques and innovations of the guitar playing, more so than just the average rock fan.

This debut solo effort from Finnish guitarist Elmo Karjalainen, "Unintelligent Designs", reminded me vaguely of those old "muso albums" - only with a bit more of a prog-metal influence...as well as a dash of quirky humor.

I suppose the big question with an album like this is whether or not the artist has the musical chops to pull off an album that is centered mostly around the guitar playing. Well, the answer to that question is a definite "yes". Karjalainen can play, no doubt about that! At times, he's the consummate shredder, displaying impressive speed and precision. At other times can sound quite gentle & melodious, and even travels into a bit of jazz-fusion territory occasionally In fact, the album never stays in any one place for too long, and the 16 featured compositions cover a wide range of tones, colors and styles, from the mellow to the outright headbanging. But I suspect that it's the epic, 9-minute track "Oneself as Another" that will appeal the most to prog-rock/prog-metal fans, featuring some dexterous fret-work, a colorful array of guitar sounds and some snaking twists and turns of rhythm. Another memorable track is "Sanna", featuring some beautiful harmonized dual-guitars and a dreamy, floating feel that should appeal to fans of Camel or Pink Floyd.

...Oh', and I did mention the quirky humor, didn't I? A "Parental Advisory" on the front cover reads "this record contains many tunes that are over 3 minutes long and no singing, and is this totally unsuitable for anyone". After an inviting, new-agey opening to the CD, the second track begins surprisingly in comic cacophony, as if the guitarist has suddenly lost his skills (spoiler: don't worry, he hasn't.) I've also never before experienced an album where the artist's spoken voice breaks-in after a few songs to announce, "Welcome to my CD. It is a pleasure to have you along and I hope you enjoy the ride."...No doubt some people's enjoyment of this CD may depend on just how open they are to some of it's eccentricities, and I've only named a few of them.

All in all, I personally found "Unintelligent Designs" to be a pretty enjoyable ride with some intriguing scenery along the way. While it's not the type of album that I would listen to regularly, it could certainly make for an interesting diversion on those occasions when the mood for something just a bit more diverse or quirky strikes. Karjalainen also serves as the guitarist for the popular Finnish heavy metal band Deathlike Sentence (who have enjoyed Top 40 success on Finland's album charts), so fans of metal guitar may want to look into his work there as well.

Reviewed by Jeff Matheus on December 9th, 2012

Elmo Karjalainen - Unintelligent Designs

There have always been arguments over who is the greatest guitarist.  I call it the "clusterfuck" argument and nothing good can come of it.  Was Jimi Hendrix better than Andre Segovia? Could Stevie Ray Vaughan hold a candle to Sammy Hagar? Eric Clapton or Joe Pass? Malmsteen or Vai? Joe Satriani or Paco De Lucia? Jerry Garcia or Al Dimeola?  Robert Johnson or Django Reinhardt? 
While Rolling Stone Magazine may publish a list of the "100 Greatest Guitarists Of All Time", it is meaningless b.s..  Sure, everyone on the list has three things in common - (1) they are great guitarists; (2) they have successful marketing ; and, therefore, (3) You've heard, or at least heard of, them.  Yet, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of great guitarists of many different genres that have not had overly successful marketing that you probably have not heard.  One of them is Elmo Karjalainen ( I can even hear your collective "Who?" with the question mark hovering in a cloud over your heads.)

Karjalainen is a Finlandian rock guitar God known primarily for his work with the Finnish metal band Deathlike Silence.  On his new release, Unintelligent Designs, a sixteen track solo shot over the bow of the rock mothership, Elmo establishes himself as an elite world class rock guitar master.  It is neither a metal album nor is it strictly a rock album.  Rather, it is a guitar master course. The cover clearly warns - "PARENTAL ADVISORY: This record contains many tunes that are over 3 minutes long and no singing and is thus totally unsuitable for anyone".  I would add this caveat, unless you are a guitarist or guitar music lover. This is a guitar album made to mesmerize and amaze other guitarists and, from this old guitarist's viewpoint, Elmo succeeds beyond even his wildest dreams. 
The album starts with "Spark Of Hope", a slowly building jazz mood piece that could fit beautifully next to the works of George Benson and Earl Klugh. The track "Headlight Violence" is a classic metal guitar rocker that chases after the likes of Yngwie Malmsteen and Zakk Wylde with a classical and ethereal twist. Elmo tells us he hopes we enjoy the ride and then he drops a driving progressive jazz/rock gem on listeners with "Chromatic Tuna".  Rhythm, tone, speed, versatility and virtuosity - and he also wrote this stuff!

Karjalainen turns to dark metal, with a pronounced driving beat , with "Lovely Spam". Notes are flying everywhere and even my fingers get tired thinking about it until we are granted a slight reprieve when "Lovely Spam" morphs into an absolutely monster of a jam band tune.  Through it all Elmo nevers misses a note or a beat. With "The Promised Land of Roundabouts" he takes the listener into a progressive gloom rock maze of syncopation, swells, complicated bass patterns and imploring electric guitar. Then, Karjalainen plays "Home", a sweet melancholy primarily acoustic guitar, with some electric lead guitar, piece that I could envision as the sound track to a romantic movie montage.  However, "The Feigning Of Altruism" is another thing altogether.  There, Elmo calls upon his metal skills and produces a piece that reminded me a bit of early Genesis and their great tune "Watchers Of The Sky", only harder and without Peter Gabriel's voice and theatrics.  The one minute double time piece "Jammy Jam" is a calculated dissonant mess.  Karjalainen's finger play is so frenetic I thought it to be barely possible on a six string.

With thanks to "Mr. Eerie Wonder" Elmo launches into "The Voices In My Head", a contemporary classic progressive metal piece of guitar shredding proportions that descends into urban white noise.  The track "Oneself as Another" juxtaposes metal and progressive guitar themes to produce a wordless nine plus minute ballad. Elmo returns to a soft progressive jazz/blues rock tone with "Sanna", a beautiful piece with pleading, emotional guitar work.  The namesake of the album, "Unintelligent Designs" pumps up the tempo and comes across as a mid-1970's rocker. It almost begs for vocals, lyrics and chorus.  Yet, it is really a "my friends came over and we jammed" tune as Elmo announces part way through the song. 

"The Demise Of A Karaoke Bar" brings us back to a metal/progressive rock amalgam with even parts metal, progressive and straight up guitar tonal play.  "The Difficultist" commences with a slow heavy drumbeat and guitar descent and continues that descent in a swirling whirlpool of anxious, impending doom before slowly climbing back out over more than seven minutes of soundscape. "Tuire's And Ville's Wedding Waltz" is just that - a slow teary-eyed waltz - modern mood music for that first dance by the bride and groom (Elmo probably wrote it for a friend's wedding but that is purely a guess.) With the final track, "Until We Meet Again", Karjalainen advises, "Well, until we meet again the case is solved."  I have no idea what Elmo means by that but the soaring masterpiece of a finale that follows his exposition is well worth savoring until Elmo delivers his next solo effort.

Unintelligent Designs is an Elmo coming out party of sorts.  It begs you to listen and, if you do, if you listen critically, even if you are not a guitarist, you will come away impressed.  I'm adding Elmo Karjalainen to my guitar Gods list, right up there with the 100 that made Rolling Stone's list.  If Elmo had half the marketing of the guitarists on that list where do you think Elmo would be placed?  More importantly, who cares?  Just listen and let yourself be rocked by the guitar master known as Elmo Karjalainen.

- Old School

Elmo Karjalainen

Unintelligent Designs

Review by G. W. Hill

The range of sounds on this set is pretty wide. We get things from fusion to Yngwie Malmsteen to King Crimson to Al Di Meola and even some heavy metal in the mix. Yet it’s all vital and powerful and cohesive. This is a strong disc.

 
 
Track by Track Review
 
Spark of Hope

Mellow jazzy sounds open this and the cut has an electronic fusion element as it continues. There is a bit of a Hawaiian music element to the cut further along the road.

 
Headlight Violence
A huge change up, this is frantic, powerhouse symphonic metal. It screams out, but is also technical and melodic, though angular and aggressive. There are some bits that call to mind King Crimson, but overall it’s closer to something like Malmsteen, but a bit more pure metal in some ways. There is an odd little spoken bit at the end.
 
Chromatic Tuna
A piece that seems to combine the first two numbers in some ways, this is more traditional fusion. It’s clearly harder edged than the opener, but no one would ever confuse this with heavy metal. It’s got a bit of Di Meola vibe to it in some ways. At least it occupies similar territory. It really becomes quite a powerhouse.
 
Lovely Spam
Neoclassical metal elements are all over this thing. It’s not as metallic as “Headlight Violence” was, but there is more crunch here than on the two other tunes to this point. It’s definitely in line with Malmsteen styled music.
 
The Promised Land of Roundabouts
Bass opens this and the cut has more of a pure fusion sound. The music is a bit weird at times and angular, but there are some great textures and sounds within it.
 
Home
Another that’s mellower, this is more like pure progressive rock, but with some fusion still in the mix. It’s a tasty cut and very melodic.
 
The Feigning of Altruism
Showcasing the variety that is brought to the table here, this one is very much heavy metal. Still, some of the guitar lines that come over the top are more in line with fusion. Whatever it’s called, though, this is another tasty instrumental.
 
Jammy Jam
There’s a killer groove to this one, jazz meets jam band meets stoner metal, but the cut is only a few seconds longer than one minute.
 
The Voices in My Head
Fusion, metal and neo-classical music all blend on this stomper. It’s another with definite nods to Malmsteen. This gets incredibly crazed at times.
 
Oneself As Another
Almost ten minutes in length, this is one of the heaviest pieces of the set. It’s also one of the most dynamic. Of course, the extended length allows for that kind of variation. At times it feels like metal, at other points like melodic prog, and at others fusion. It’s always interesting and powerful. There’s a weird little bit in the middle of this thing, something like a needle getting pulled around on a record. As it continues beyond that point there is a shift towards mellower and more melodic fusion.
 
Sanna
Mellow and powerful, this is melodic and while not one of the most dynamic cuts here, it is one of the most effective. It’s a good cross between progressive rock and fusion and is one of my favorite tunes of the whole set.
 
Unintelligent Designs
The title track is more pure fusion. It’s a real killer tune that has some almost Hawkwind-like sounds to it.
 
The Demise of a Karaoke Bar
Somehow there seems a bit of a Yes-vibe to this in some ways. That said, though, it’s got plenty of real fusion and some King Crimson type stylings. It works out to some pretty free-form weirdness later in the piece.
 
The Difficultist
There’s definitely an exploratory air to this cut. It’s very much a fusion kind of piece. It’s quite melodic, but also crunchy and tastefully weird. We get several changes and alterations along this ride.
 
Tuire's and Ville's Wedding Waltz
Mellow and slow moving, this is very much a prog meets fusion kind of number. It’s very melodic and quite pretty.
 
Until We Meet Again
After a quick spoken word bit, the closing number powers out with some great crunchy fusion sounds. There are some melodic lines here that really sound familiar to me. This definitely has some soaring progressive rock moments along the journey.

Elmo Karjalainen - Unintelligent Designs

Ed : Big Words. You intend not to use those with the CD of yet another guitar god in your hands. By the way: is it fair when such a - completely instrumental - CD is reviewed by somebody who cannot play one note straight? Most guitar albums I do certainly enjoy and also outside of a metal framing (blues/jazzrock) big men who are not afraid of a snare or two more do have my attention (B.B. King, Jaco Pastorius). Walking along the illustrious Gallery of Great Metal Guitarists, the name that sprung to mind most (but still only haphazardly) when listening to Unintelligent Designs is that of Yngwie Malmsteen. Yet the Viking has never penned such a broad album, that is of course also a showcase for a great talent, but is also full of humour: a funny announcement here, unexpected stray sounds there. It all begins quietly, composed (pun intended) with Spark of Hope, with Headlight Violence following in Malmsteen-esque shred fashion. Chromatic Tuna is a more jazzy and funky piece and in Lovely Spam a number of hyperspeed solos are fired onto a classic hardrock structure. We have a very varied album here, with good dynamics, that is not boring for even one second. This is stuff for guitar aficionados and indeed for all rock and metal fans with an open ear and some stamina.

Elmo Karjalainen - Unintelligent Designs (CD, KC Sound, Instrumental/guitar)
Riveting electric guitar instrumentals from Finland's Elmo Karjalainen. Unintelligent Designs features sixteen ultimately satisfying slightly spacey instrumentals that showcase the extreme preciseness of Karjalainen's playing. This fellow's fluid guitar playing reminds us in many ways of classic artists from the past like Steve Hillage and Robert Fripp. Whether he's playing at a normal pace or so fast that you can't possibly follow all the notes, Elmo never fails to entertain and amaze. He's currently in the heavy metal band Deathlike Silence that has garnered a good bit of attention in Finland (the band's last two albums have made it into the Top 40 there). Some of these tracks harken back to the days of 1970s progressive rock when guitar gods were ruling the universe. Elmo's going to find an immediate and welcoming audience for his stunning guitar stylings. Killer tracks include "Spark of Hope," "Headlight Violence," "The Voices In My Head," and "Until We Meet Again." Superb quality recordings from a master of the guitar...

Elmo Karjalainen - Unintelligent Designs

Elmo Karjalainen - Unintelligent Designs
Country of Origin: Finland
Format: CD
Record Label: KC Sound ky
Catalogue #: KC-008
Year of Release: 2011
Time: 72:55
Info: Elmo Karjalainen
Samples: Click Here

Tracklist: Spark Of Hope (2:57), Headlight Violence (3:25), Chromatic Tuna (4:33), Lovely Spam (4:33), The Promised Land Of Roundabouts (4:12), Home (4:00), The Feigning Of Altruism (3:44), Jammy Jam (1:06), The Voices In My Head (3:58), Oneself As Another (9:44), Sanna (5:36), Unintelligent Designs (4:11), The Demise Of A Karaoke Bar (4:02), The Difficultist (7:20), Tuire's and Ville's Wedding Waltz (4:05), Until We Meet Again (5:31)

Elmo Karjalainenis a fine guitarist from Finland who plays in metal band Deathlike Silence where he has won some fame as one of the best rock players from that country. The band has recorded two albums, both of which have been well received with positive reviews. The band's single Six Feet Under The Ground was also a radio hit in Finland. Elmo is also involved in other projects including Conquest and Seagrave, both of which are planing new material.

Unintelligent Designs is Elmo's debut solo album and after taking some time to write and record it is now finally finished. The wait has been worthwhile though with 16 instrumental tracks in differing styles from rock, metal, fusion and jazz. There is also a good dose of humour which is seen even before you play the album as on the front of the CD booklet are the words "Parental advisory: this record contains many tunes that are over 3 minutes long and no singing, and thus totally unsuitable for everyone".

Let's look at each track in turn.

Spark Of Hope: A slow jazzy fusion number gently breaking you into the album and sounding quite Hawaiian in parts, reminding me of Earl Klugh. You could quite easily be in a dream on a far away beach with a feeling of total relaxation.

Headlight Violence: The clue on this one is in the title with some technical but quite aggressive guitar playing sure to wake you up from your dream on the previous track, classic metal ending with floating keyboards and an odd spoken piece - "Welcome to my CD, it's a pleasure to have you along and I hope you enjoy the ride".

Chromatic Tuna: Jazz fusion at its best, with a nice hard edge and a catchy funky beat throughout. Sounds of Al DiMeola and Santana can be heard, I just love the sound of the guitar making this one of my favourites on the album.

Lovely Spam: Metal elements can be heard throughout this one, but also it reminded me of a heavy version of the instrumental part of The Cinema Show by Genesis.

The Promised Land Of Roundabouts: Bass powered jazz rock fusion, with a powerful fusion guitar.

Home: Similar to the previous track but mellower, acoustic guitar driven with electric lead guitar, melodic with hints of fusion.

The Feigning Of Altruism: Heavy metal mixed with fusion really making it hard to pigeon hole exactly what style we have, but an interesting track none the less.

Jammy Jam: Just over a minute with so much packed into the jam, jazz meets metal full on.

The voices In My Head: With a thank you at the beginning for the voices in my head, a crazy track of fast metal guitar playing taking us to a winding end.

Oneself As Another: The longest track on the album at just under 10 minutes. A mixture of prog and metal, heavy to start with the sound of a needle being knocked across an LP about a third of the way through followed by a slowing down to some beautiful guitar before building back up to a climax. Another favourite.

Sanna: Jazz rock fusion with beautiful harmonised guitars. Camel fans will love this, a real highlight of the album.

Unintelligent Designs: The title track, an up-tempo piece that really rocks.

The Demise Of A Karaoke Bar: Free form rock, strange in structure with parts in a King Crimson style.

The Difficulties: A real King Crimson sounding piece with a catchy beat, heavy guitars and bass, nice time changes and the middle part features some nice sounding bass. If I had to pick a favourite on the album this would be it.

Tuire's And Ville's Wedding Waltz: Perfect title for this one with its lovely slow moving pace, nice and mellow, with a sweet sounding guitar.

Until We Meet Again: A really fitting title to end the album, a journey of more fusion and rock starting with a short spoken piece.

I found the album highly enjoyable and even after repeated listens it still had my attention. I know some people might find instrumental albums not their thing but this one is different with its many different styles, you can't help but want to know what's next. Don't let the jazz element put you off. The guitar playing is first class and really shines throughout the album. Also some instrumental albums fail because they become too samey but this one doesn't, you are pulled in different directions making for a really enjoyable interesting listen. As long as you are prepared to open your mind and give the album a chance you will find plenty to like. As stated on one of the tracks, "hope you enjoy the ride". The answer is simple, you will.

The Booklet that comes with the album matches the theme really well with its sketches, humour and information.

Conclusion: 8 out of 10

TONY BIRD