Hailing from Finland is Paidarion, one of the more unique acts on the modern progressive rock scene. Their sound consists of various styles of prog rock, as well as a liberal dosing of jazz, funk, pop, and a host of other genres. Behind the Curtains is their second full-length album, and in spite of its diversity and complex nature, it manages to remain surprisingly accessible and user-friendly. Paidarion have crafted a pretty enjoyable record this time around, and anyone who enjoys the more eclectic side of modern art rock should be sure to give this a listen. Though not essential, Behind the Curtains is an interesting effort that has ultimately left a positive impression on this reviewer.
Paidarion's sound doesn't strike me as revolutionary, but there's no denying that they deliver some pretty original prog rock on Behind the Curtains. I have a tough time finding any other band that serves as a valid comparison to the blend of neo-prog, art rock, fusion, funk, vocal jazz, and retro symphonic prog found on this record. The gentle vocal jazz in "A Springtime Meadow" (complete with female vocals, a soprano saxophone solo, and the whole ordeal) offers a stark contrast to the complex progressive rock you'll find in "A Leap Into the Unknown", which also varies significantly from the atmospheric nature of "Behind the Curtain (A Song For Michael)". Behind the Curtains has something for just about anybody, and I find myself entertained throughout most of the album's one-hour duration.
At the expense of the diverse nature of the music, the album tends to feel a bit incoherent at time. The compositions are somewhat hit-and-miss, and not all of the tracks are up to par with the best that Paidarion has to offer. Maybe a slightly shorter running length would've helped this issue, but it's not a major problem since all of Behind the Curtains is still pretty enjoyable. The musicianship and production are also both astounding, and I especially have to give a nod to keyboard player Kimmo Tapananinen who delivers plenty of impressive parts throughout the album. Jan-Olof Strandberg is also one of the more talented bass players out there, with his prominent playing style and occasional solos really grabbing my attention.
Behind the Curtains is a pretty interesting effort from Paidarion, and I challenge every fan of adventurous art rock to give this album a spin. While not flawless, it suggests a bright future for this promising Finnish act. I'll be keeping an eye on these guys, and rate this pleasant album with 3.5 stars. Behind the Curtains is recommended to fans of progressive rock that is distinctly modern and unique.
1. Behind The Curtains
2. A Small Wish
4. A Springtime Meadow
5. A Vertical Rope
6. A Leap into the Unknown
7. A Rose in the Sun
9. The Magician's Departure
10. The Final Show