Drawing inspiration from the deep and never ending musical well of legendary riffs of some of classic rock's major heavyweight guitarists of the 60's and 70's is never a bad thing, especially when your debut album has people dropping the likes of Hendrix, Trower and Frank Marino. Time Traveller is a brand new, magnificent sounding, all instrumental project with loads of potential, out of Finland and made up of primarily just one man, guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Juhani Nisula. The concept is loosely based around you guessed it…time travel, through both space & time, with the intent on making the complete story fit into a trilogy. The first installment covers the first two chapters.
From the moment of blast off via the rocket sounds of the opening track "Launch" through to the very end, Nisula takes the listener on a wild journey through his rich and varied multi-colored tapestry of sound. The musical fireworks come fast and furious with the second song "Part One: The Pioneers" which features a gloriously shimmering moog solo from guest musician Timo Ristila, as well as the first glimpse of Nisula's technical prowess on the guitar by way of a brief solo section to close out the track. After the brief interlude of "Shifting" you segue straight into "The Traveller", an almost seven minute epic replete with the warm, rich tones of the Hammond organ along with a massive serving of Juhani's melodic phrasing and distinctly psychedelic solo's, which are very reminiscent of Bridge Of Sighs era Robin Trower and early Mahogany Rush. Thankfully this continues straight into the last song on Chapter I "Floating", which gives the listener the feeling of doing exactly that. This track while considerably slower in tempo proves to be the perfect vehicle for him to peel off one hell of an extended solo (this track clocks in at a staggering seven and half minutes) that is truly hypnotic, trippy and brimming with emotion. This hypnotic effect is helped along through some clever and effective backward guitar effects, further highlighting the song's overall psychedelic nature.
Chapter II picks off right where Chapter I left off, beginning with the furiously up tempo number "The Chase", which not only features a plethora of thick, meaty guitar chords but some rather funky clavinet work as well, which although buried somewhat slightly in the mix can still be heard cooking away underneath. Almost every progressive rock bands weapon of choice from the 70's, the Mellotron makes a cameo appearance on the next composition "The Chase", while the brief meditative musings of "Dead End" combines perfectly the soothing sound effects of falling rain with light touches on the Hammond and what surprisingly sounds like a sitar. The final track proper "The Release" is absolutely majestic with it's funky rhythms and gleaming synthesizer work. This cut wouldn't sound out of place on say Mahogany Rush's classic IV album, as Juhani turns in one final, exhilarating guitar performance, one which finds him briefly dueling with guest violinist Sanna Agren. "Outro" brings the chapters to their fitting conclusion with a gong splash, the delicate sound of wind chimes and some deep throated chanting.
The music on Time Traveller will take the listener on a mystical, musical journey. Everything just sounds so cohesive on this disc that it will be very easy to just kick back and lose yourself in the wealth of great performances, not to mention the warm cocoon like feeling of this fantastic analog recording. Juani Nisula has not only crafted an admirable tribute to some of the artists mentioned in this review, and done it in his own distinct style, but more importantly the music on Time Traveller pays homage to the time when this genre of music thrived and flourished. If this is just the beginning one can only imagine what kind of magic he will conjure up in his next two installments.
Chapter I: The Journey
2) Part One: The Pioneers
3) Shifting (or The Introduction to The Traveller)
4) Part Two: The Traveller
5) Part Three: Floating
Chapter II: Circumstances
6) Part Four: The Chase
7) Part Five: The Great Escape
8) Part Six: Dead End
9) Part Seven: The Release