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Mist Season: Woodlands

Woodlands is Finnish instrumental band Mist Season's second album. Not having heard their debut, I can't say whether it differs or not from its predecessor, but at any rate, this is first-class instrumental jazz fusion with a lot of diversity, and a vast array of instrumentation. Though the band consists of six members, there are also lots of guests on this disc, offering their services. The accordion on "Dance of the Miststress", for example, makes an invaluable contribution to the piece. Based on an Eastern European folky theme, it is relatively more vibrant and happy-sounding than the other pieces, and the guitar solo is simply sublime. Mist Season is definitely on the jazzier side of the spectrum, utilising very few rocky moments. This track has a warm fusiony lead solo and is one of the highlights of the album.

There is a four-part composition called "Cartway Across the Branches" on the CD. Interestingly, the first and and fourth parts of this piece were recorded live and quote a key theme over which the band improvises. Whilst it starts out slowly with deft cymbal splashes and sparse piano notes, it borrows a heavier jazz guitar aesthetic on the following section, venturing into mellower territory. The third part is the most atmospheric of the four, as it begins with slowly unfolding keyboards and beautifully strummed acoustic guitar whose tone is gorgeous. The free-style playing and occasional synth bursts make for an interesting combination as well. What's best about Mist Season, despite being a full-on jazz fusion band, is that they also know how to compose little parts for memorable synth crescendos. The first track keeps repeating a wonderful synth patch every now and then amidst all those saxophone and keyboard sounds. "The Six Spruce" proceeds in a similar pattern; it is built around vast synths and individual guitar lines. The songs feature all kinds of instruments: you can hear trumpets, tablas, and flugelhorns alongside regular jazz elements. "Flowers of Asia" evokes a Japanese movie soundtrack, thanks to its prominent Oriental textures and unusual scales. There is also cool sitar playing on "Garden of Beruwela".

As for the packaging and recording quality, Woodlands is amazing in that aspect too. Highly recommended to fans of instrumental music that relies more heavily on jazz than fusion.

Track Listing

  1. Far away from Home
  2. Cartway Across the Branches
  3. Daylite Sprite
  4. Cartway Across the Branches2
  5. Dance of the Misstress
  6. The Six Spruce
  7. Flower of Asia
  8. Dawn
  9. Vexplorer
  10. Cartway Across the Branches3
  11. Woodpecker the Mocker
  12. Skyward Leafage
  13. Cartway Across the Branches4
  14. Garden of Beruwela
  15. Tears of Woodland

Added: May 22nd 2007
Reviewer: Murat Batmaz
Related Link: Mist Season website
Hits: 2352
Language: english

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