[Review] Harpo Jarvi – Babushka Noir

Harpo Jarvi is a trio originally from St. Louis, Missouri in the USA that offers a Prog Jams sound ritual, with long running tracks and with 3 full-lengths to their credit. The new album “Babushka Noir” was released on July 22, 2022 and contains 5 long-running tracks including an epic of over 17 minutes with a horn opsite in the last one. The opener “Yakuzapalooza” is a long track that exceeds 10 minutes and begins with sounds that immediately immerse us in the musical context of the album. A solid, slow-moving rhythm session, allowing sounds enriched with emodulation effects to evolve and layered as the vocal adds a ritual touch. The track is enveloping with the keyboards at the center of the sounds, deep and supporting bass lines that give body to the song and a linear drumming that guides us by marking the time. A mixture of multiple genres and styles whose common thread is the personal touch of the band, skilled in adapting Prog and Psychedelia and shaping it through this long jam. The intensity increases with the passing of the minutes, capturing the listener’s attention more and more and guiding him on the trip through the musical plots of the band and the valuable solo inserts that develop in the second part. The shorter track on the “Moonflower Girl” album opens with a warm, expressive vocal and intricate textures with a Jazzy twist that blends with Prog and Psychedelia. A piece that enhances the compositional technique even on a shorter duration, with references to the Canterbury Scene proposed with a modern and personal touch. “Breeders” opens with a hypnotic electronic sound on which is inserted an elaborate drumming and a very intense vocal. The winds that intertwine with the keyboards creating a mystical atmosphere in the melodies, sought after and in continuous evolution. A track pulled with a musical crescendo that reaches its peak in the central part and then develops solo parts in the second part, exploring musical horizons between Space Rock and Prog with the freedom to evolve the central theme of the song. We have come to the epic track “The Boogmoogler” which exceeds 17 minutes in duration and opens with a deep bass line and atmospheric keyboards. The vocal is warm and interprets the lyrics with pathos, while the sound develops during the song all the characteristic features of the band with long instrumental plots. Tepo changes and rich keyboard passages, bass lines and elaborate structures, evolving and modulating the sounds managing to enhance the individual technique of the trio. Electronic sounds, softer parts and accelerations with a tighter second part and distorted sounds with powerful solos and a more energetic vocal. The organ in the second part takes the stage, sumptuous and with a marked retro style that takes us to the golden years of Prog music. A track that never ceases to excite the listener from start to finish in a high-level musical crescendo. The album ends with another track around 4 minutes “Forest Mom, Part II” with Dan Johnson guest on sax and softer sounds. Good vocals and musical plots that remind me of the Canterbury bands with a wide use of winds and excellent keyboard inserts. a piece that pleasantly closes this listening, solid rhythmic session with a killer bassilne and development of the refined and technical theme. An excellent record, full of ideas and with a marked personal style that confirms and evolves for the better the good heard in the previous ones. A trio with solid sounds, which manages to bring the magical atmosphere of the 70s into a modern and original context by building its own style. A listening recommended for lovers of Prog sounds with long instrumental sections and a Canterbury touch, in my opinion it is an excellent and high-level album.

Tracklist

01. Yakuzapalooza (10:41)
02. Moonflower Girl (04:24)
03. Breeders (07:38)
04. The Boogmoogler (17:04)
05. Forest Mom, Part II (04:31)

Lineup

Dan Ilges / Drums
Nick Johnson / Bass, Synth
Jim Miles / Vocals, Fender Rhodes, Hammond B3 Organ, Synth, Alto Sax, Flute

With:
Dan Johnson / Tenor and Bari Sax on Forest Mom, Part II

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Author: Jacopo Vigezzi

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