www.kallevilpuu.com [Release date 22.12.13]
I have to say I always approach guitarist-led independent releases with a certain amount of intrepidation. Often they are mere vanity projects, apeing others, badly recorded, badly executed and maybe enlisting a “name” to help sales and…vanity.
Kalle Vilpuu is a guitarist from Estonia, a country not especially known for great musical exports, and he’s put together 11 tracks that repay repeated attention. It is to Vilpuu’s credit that he explores various styles and textures on this album, aided by the very competent Anrus Lillepea (drums) and Henno Kelp (bass).
The opening track ‘Anomalies’ sets the scene, if not actually the blueprint, but it demonstrates how Vilpuu tastefully melds his guitar with an orchestral backdrop (provided by a real string section) and keyboard-based effects/electronica. This adds interest throughout the album, and it becomes less of a guitarist navel-gaze and more of a genuinely absorbing – and satisfying – listen.
This continues with ‘Unforgiven’ with Vilpuu’s chunky metal chords and soloing, and the excellent ‘Interno’ which is enhanced by the vocals of Mari Pokinen. This particular track is a standout and opens with an Apocalyptica-esque string refrain before an Air-esque –vibe gives way to a quite wonderful guitar denouement. Pokinen returns on the attractive ‘The Touch Of An Angel’.
‘Industrial No.4′ is a fantastic metal piledriver along with ‘In The Back Of My Head’ and the monumental ‘The Aliens (Have Landed)’. Vilpuu’s guitar style is not especially derivative as is so often the case with similar guitar-based albums. The latter piece, for example, is propelled along with an infectious Kelp bass pattern and harnesses the headiness of prime-time Ozric Tentacles. Yes, this is an intriguing album!
The high standards never slip, the album book-ended by that appealing blend of metal guitar and classical finesse (on ‘Forgiven’ with the flute of Tarvi Jaago) and the title track which brings together all the elements that make this album great: electronica, strings, and a persuasive guitar that peters out to a single tone. Wonderful.
The thread running through the whole album is one of well constructed songs and throughtful structuring. Kalle Vilpuu exercises taste and restraint, something slightly refreshing in overcrowded guitar-dom. Moreover, he’s produced one of the best guitar-led instrumental albums you’re likely to hear. *****
Review by David Randall
David Randall presents ‘Assume The Position’ on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio every Sunday at 22:00 GMT.
On Sunday 28 July 2019, David Randall celebrated his 600th show. “Assume The Position” started in June 2007 on UK City Radio before transferring a year later to Get Ready to ROCK! Radio. The show includes tracks played on the first show plus Upton Blues Festival highlights, new music and the regular features “Live Legends” and “Anniversary Rock” which this week celebrates the Island Records label 60th anniversary.
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Power Plays w/c 19 August (Mon-Fri)
BEFORE FIRE Dead Eyes (indie)
SCOTT & MARIA Never Give Up (indie)
CORELEONI Queen Of Hearts (AFM Records)
BERLIN Transcendance (Cleopatra Records)
PHIL CAMPBELL These Old Boots (Nuclear Blast)
PHIL LANZON Blue Mountain (Phil Lanzon Ditties/Cargo Records UK)
Featured Albums w/c 19 August (Mon-Fri)
09:00-12:00 SOLEIL MOON Warrior (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 ROXY BLUE Roxy Blue (Frontiers)
14:00-16:00 DREW HOLCOMB & THE NEIGHBORS Dragons (Magnolia Music/Thirty Tigers)
Albums That Time Forgot (Mon-Fri)
JAMES STEVENSON Everything’s Getting Closer To Being Over (2013)
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