We were writing earlier on Nordic Music Review about Danish singer songwriter Il Tempo Gigante, and his growing reputation as a live artist. Some bands and singers are only really truly appreciated when you see them live, and conversely, some turn out to be a bit of a disappointment. I’ve mentioned Clearlake before, possibly one of the most underrated bands in recent British Indie history, I love them dearly, but actually they were a tad disappointing live. Anyway I say all this because I’ve been listening to Esko Järvelä Epic Male Band, and truth be told I was struggling to quite know what to say…. and then I watched this video:
Ok, so firstly yes you’re right, it is a fiddle led Progressive Thrash Folk band, but that’s not the main point, suddenly seeing their live performance (albeit on YouTube) made me realise that these guys were born to play in a fiddle led Progressive Thrash Folk band, and even more importantly still, they’re having an enormous amount of fun doing it. That infectious enthusiasm immediately rubbed off on to me, and I went back to listening to their album with a new sense of understanding.
So this is Esko Järvelä Epic Male Band 2nd album (I think) and its called ‘Rye Groove’. Its mostly instrumental, and for those that don’t know them, the basis for the sound is fiddle led Folk, but performed extravagantly and completely fluently in a thrash rock style. They describe themselves on their website as ‘like a bag of angry cats with a chainsaw’. Anyway trying to analyse Esko Järvelä Epic Male Band music in detail is pretty pointless, you just have to listen and enjoy, but we’ll pick out some highlights.
I immediately loved ‘Rose on the Wallpaper’, it starts off with subtlety, an acoustic guitar and slightly simpler Folk tune on the fiddle, but the instrumentation is layered on throughout the track, until by the end the whole band has combined to help beat out the most extraordinary theme. Its probably the most progressive rock influenced track, which as we’ve established on here a few times, can be a good thing – some of the greatest bands are prog rock influenced, even if Prog Rock in its own right, can be terribly dull.
I feel instinctively even more at home with ‘Kabob Ostrobothnia’, it opens with a sound more likely to come from English electric violinist Ed Alleyne-Johnson, but then launches into another blistering track, but with a tight sounding band back up. Rhythmically the tracks are fairly astonishing, constantly off beat and with impenetrably difficult time signatures to work out, yet always accessible and natural sounding. Whilst this is undoubtedly a showcase for the amazing talents of fiddle player Esko Järvelä, it’s clearly the relationship and musical understanding that the whole band have which makes the sound so captivating. And I love the last track ‘Inner Space, a sublime theme woven and evolving around different instruments, it’s a great end to the album.
We’ve never pretended to be experts on anything we write about, and in this particular case I’m never going to be able to technically assess just how musically brilliant they all are. Lets be really clear, Esko Järvelä Epic Male Band are all technically brilliant, hugely talented musicians, but even more importantly, they’re hugely enjoyable to listen to, produce great tunes and seem to have great fun doing what they do. Watching live performances online and seeing the crowd dance along with the biggest smiles on their faces, is a simple but huge testament to a band that apparently effortlessly combine music genres and produce something which is so original, unique and probably never to be repeated.
I would highly recommend you catch this band live if you can, but I genuinely feel that this is also great music to completely immerse yourself in at home, explore and enjoy. If you like unusual diverse sounds, please consider Esko Järvelä Epic Male Band ‘Rye Groove’ as an interesting and fairly astonishing addition to your music collection.
Nordic Music Review 8/10
For more info on how to get hold of this album go to: https://www.facebook.com/E.JarvelaEpicMaleBand
However their first album is available on Itunes (and Spotify i guess).