ALBUM MEMENTO MATERIA RELEASE:
AUGUST 11, 2003 REVIEW: AUGUST 28, 2003
Materia should be commended for keeping Finnish Neverwood on their label
despite their continuing marginal status outside Finland. Their second
album "Trapped Inside" had a couple of great hooks that, with
the right kind of promotion, might have made some money for the company,
but Neverwood's ambitions are clearly much bigger than cashing in on the
ethereal or heavenly voices scene.
The years since "Trapped Inside" have seen Neverwood moving
forward in giant strides, outgrowing the simple pop format and donning
the jazzy, classy electronica outfit that was still a little too big for
it the last time around. I may miss delicate pop songs like "Astroman"
from the last album, but the change is most definitely worth every sacrifice.
Jazz seems to be a big thing in Finland right now, judging from Jimi Tenor's
latest offering "Higher Planes" and the work of current Finnish
alternative superstars Don Johnson Big Band. In Neverwood's music, it
manifests in the form of live drums and saxophone, and melds nicely with
the smooth, sweeping keyboard sounds of Jani Heimala. Of course, the emotional
vocals of Saara Hellström are absolutely essential in creating the
Neverwood sound, but on "Misty Morning" the music gives her
a lot more competition than previously. The band dabbles in drum'n'bass,
throws in a twanging Morricone melody here and a funky piano there. Saara's
vocals serve to retain the general wistful mood that defines the band's
identity and links it to the bands of US label Projekt and similar artists
of the scene mentioned above.
In short, Neverwood is getting awfully good and deserves all the success
it can get. The world is a still cruel place as long as Nightwish generates
more interest than this.