Kumina.org, a trio of relative newcomers on the progressive rock scene, create a rich, highly-skilled blend of rock and jazz on their first proper release, entitled Entropia. Hailing from Finland, their tightly constructed sound make them more-than-qualified to carry the torch lit by bands such as Emerson, Lake & Palmer and The Mahavishnu Orchestra, while at the same time blazing their own trail of originality in the process. Entropia revels in quirky musical expression and never falls short in delivering flamboyant instrumental outbursts, but everything's executed with technical precision. Every note has a function, every melody has a purpose, and it never feels as if the songs aren't going anywhere, a true compliment for an album that exists in an often maligned and misunderstood genre.
Kumina.org is made up of Ahmed Ahonen on keyboards, Matti Kanerva on drums, and Jukka Packalen on bass and guitars. Yes, piano and synthesizers play a dominant part in creating the musical fabric of this group, so certain ELP comparisons are obvious and understandable, but Kumina.org is in no means a copy-cat group. In fact, all of their music is instrumental, and they sound more akin to fusion artists such as Allan Holdsworth, Tony Williams, and Jaco Pastorius. Listeners might even discover a little of Return To Forever while listening to Entropia. Not a bad comparison, because Chick Corea's ensemble is viewed by some as the core of jazz fusion in the 1970's, who themselves went through a period of "jazz rock" in the mid-70's, favoring synthesizers and electric guitars while abandoning vocals, giving their music a more deep shade of progressive rock.
The song titles on Entropia are long and unpronounceable, similar to reading a track list on a Sigur Ros record, so that hinders the album slightly in regards to accessibility. (Are you going to say to a friend, "Hey man, you should really check out that track 'Rantapalloistuminen' on the new Kumina.org record?" Good luck with that.) But any shortcomings in the packaging and/or titles are made up for with the rollicking and energetic music, highlighted by Ahonen's piano style, which uses wonderful phrasing and can be thought of as "lyrical." Check out the aforementioned "Rantapalloistuminen" as one example of his tasteful piano playing. He doesn't shy away though from letting it rip on the solos, and if there's ever a time when an ELP comparison can be made, it's when he's cutting loose on the keys, harkening back to the days of an unleashed Keith Emerson. Look no further than "Flegmaatikko" or "Rytmo II" for proof. Also of note is "Tahdon Asiaa", a song which features a warm, fuzzy psychedelic sounding organ that would fit right at home on any Jeff Glixman produced Kansas record from the mid-70's. "Rytmo I" and "Rytmo III" are the only "meandering" compositions on the record, seemingly made more for effect and set-up than serving as stand-alone compositions. It's a lot of drum noodling, synth effects, and various spooky sounds all rolled into one. Rytmo II, on the other hand, is a great example of how locked in rhythmically the bass and drums are on this record, with much of the song being very groove-oriented and percussive. Packalen sets down the bass and weaves electric guitar into five of the album's ten tracks, including the rousing finale "Seuraus", and he sure isn't content just to play rhythm figures. Instead, he commands the spotlight with tasty soloing that serves as great call-and-response with the keyboards.
Overall, this album is a wonderful lesson in the art of technique and improvisation. It's never overly bombastic, yet constantly relishes in how many surprises it holds. The production gives the songs an open-ended and spacious quality, the playing is top-notch, and all of the instruments are given equal time to shine. Kumina.org is certainly a first-rate jazz/rock fusion band and if this style of music is your cup of tea, then Entropia is truly something to savor.
1) Toiset seitseman paivaa
4) Tahdon asiaa
6) Rytmo I (Eutokia)
7) Rytmo II (Aavikkomato)
8) Puolestoista kerta
9) Rytmo III (Mihin havisi beduiinin jalka?)