Often when I’m handed a new album to review, I take a sneaky look at the personnel on the album, but who are they isn’t as important as what they play. You can tell a lot by what instruments appear, if there is guitar, bass, drums and vocal, you know you’re on quite traditional ground, throw in a cello, organ, backing vocals and brass section, well that’s something new all together but in the case of Jarmo Saari Republic where three quarters of the band are drummers, well… let’s just say my interest was piqued.
Jarmo Saari is a Finnish musician who, it’s safe to say, is a multi-instrumentalist, on this album alone he plays thirteen instruments and sings. Joined by Abdissa Assefa, Sami Kuoppamaki and Olavi Louhivuori sharing the drum and percussion roles he’s made something that manages to, at times, sound like Herbie Hancock’s 1973 jazz/funk ‘Headhunters’ album and the but also has flavours of Jimi Hendrix and the sounds of the 60’s psychedelic scene.
All set against tribal, voodoo rhythms!
Opening track ‘The Wunderers’ requires a review all of it’s own, it’s an interesting piece of music that is set against a looping musical foundation where instruments are introduced one at a time, a little like a carpenter describing their individual tools, It’s very jazz-like in the way different sounds conflict and move, take centre stage for a few bars only to be put back into there original position or disappear altogether. There are times when you feel you can pre-empt where the music will go, only for the music to continue, at 2mins 45secs a drum beat is introduced and you think that this is where we’ll leave the roundabout and take a certain direction, but no, stay in your seats, we’re going round again.
‘My Kinda Woman’ borrows heavily from the atmosphere of 60’s supergroup Cream, the bass line following the vocal melody, while ‘Saffron Tears’ takes guitar tone tips from David Gilmour’s later Pink Floyd work for a very long guitar solo (I’ll admit, at over 8minutes long, I skipped a chunk of it) but it all goes in to making a varied album that may not appeal to everybody but has so much going for it that even if you’re sitting on the fence, you should hear it.