There's a thin line Ambient records have to tread in regards to being boring. As a musical genre, it's charm lies not in really interesting the listener (as bad as that sounds) as it does simply drawing them in and creating a certain atmosphere and mood. It's the perfect background music, yet at the same time it has to be somewhat involving. If a record is a little bit too static, a little bit too one-dimensional, then no amount of atmosphere will help it, but at the same time, it needs to be somewhat static and organic in the way most other music isn't, that's the whole point of Ambient music, it's the reason why people listen to it.
“Voimasuo” is a perfect example of how thin this line can be.
With this album, JÄÄPORTIT haven't quite struck a balance. It creates an Ambient/Post Rock feel that has been done quite a bit before but without really creating a definitely interesting mood. Certain parts are wonderfully created, with interesting dynamics and relaxing soundscapes. The inclusion of haunting vocals in for example in “Hengenvaara” elevate that song to a more unique and engaging level than the rest of the album, while “Suon Sulaessa” has a defiantly brooding and powerful feel throughout, really stretching the whole Ambient tag the rest of the album has.
But with the good comes just as much bad on this record. Certain parts of it are just boring, there's no other way to put it. Opening song “Tuulten Tuoja” takes far too long to get in it's stride and ends abruptly when it does, while the next song “Arvoitusten Luona” lacks any real merit at all, failing to engage or interest the listener. It's an annoying gap between quality on the album, and one that deters enjoyment from listenining to it in it's entirety.
It's not that JÄÄPORTIT can't make good Ambient music, it's just that they have a habit of introducing a lot of filler before getting to the good stuff. “Voimasuo” treads the line between boring and atmospheric and eventually ends up with a foot on each side, maybe next time they'll land where they want.
(Online April 7, 2009)