I regard Musea as a fairly safe label: you know what you are going to get – rock played by progressive thinking musicians (not always "progressive rock", there is a difference!) from diverse parts of the globe. It's not always going to "hit the button" of your own individual taste, but even when it doesn't, you can understand what the musicians are trying to do and appreciate the music from a creative perspective. And often, because Musea ventures into pastures that other labels fear to tread, they come up with some real gems.
However, with the Finnish "band" Riveryman's Magic World they have gone for a total bummer: it's so poor that, frankly, I cannot understand what they were thinking of when they agreed to produce the album. I cannot see how anyone will enjoy this "music".
Magic World starts harmlessly enough with "Ladders of the Giant", an instrumental that, whilst it is not particularly enjoyable, at least doesn't make you cringe. The main element of this music is guitar "twiddling" to a background of swishing synthesizer; but nothing much happens, certainly no rich melody or catchy riff or groovy rhythm to keep you interested. "No problem", you say, "the piece is only 3 minutes long".
True, but the title-track, "Magic World", is over thirteen minutes. I cannot understand why: it, and the other similarly lengthy pieces on this album, do nothing whatever to justify their length; this is musical verboseness in its worst manifestation! The music continues in the same vein as the opening number as some sort of guitar twiddling with synths. In fairness, some of the guitar work is occasionally ok, but the various instruments sound as though they are playing without regard to the other music, it's all poorly integrated. It's strange that there should be such a disconnect in the sound because the music is written and played by Tony Riveryman himself – actually, this name is a pseudonym for Toni Jokinen – with his only assistance being from someone called Pikkis on the drums. Worst of all though are the vocals (sung in English), to which Tony occasionally adds his own "harmonies" and backing vocals. I mean, do you want to hear me singing in the shower? I can assure you that you do not! ..... but this is surely no better: the singing is very poor and, frankly, makes you want to hit the off switch immediately.
However, a reviewer's life is not that simple, so I listened on – two times! – to complete the album. I took comfort in the knowledge that a second instrumental was just around the corner, but this was disappointingly low on musicality. If you're going to doodle with the guitar, then at least make it sing! The two oases of improvement and respite on this over-long CD were the semblance of melodic sensibility at the beginning of "Garden of Love" and some interesting rhythmic work in a couple of the phases of "Priest of the World". It's not enough to save an album that is, overall, devoid of musical ideas and competence.
Of course, you don't have to believe me, you could just check out the MySpace samples...
1) Ladders of the Giant (3:07) (instrumental)
2) Magic World (13:06)
3) Gage of Our Lives (9:47)
4) Garden of Love (9:54)
5) Voyage Across the Fabulous Stars (6:16) (instrumental)
6) After All These Years (11:14)
7) Priest of the World (7:56)
8) Escaping From the Dreams (10:41)