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Guitarist for a whole string of bands, past and present, including Reverend Bizarre, E-Musikgruppe Lux Ohr, Lord Vicar, Orne and Uhrijuhla (the last four are, I believe, still active entities), Finnish musician Kimi Kärki (once known under pseudonyms of Peter Vicar and Peter Inverted) also has a side career as a singer-songwriter and cultural historian. With one solo album to his name thus far (2013's 'The Bone of My Bones'), here we have the imminent release of his second, 'Eye for an Eye'. Nine compositions that are centred around Kärki's nylon-stringed guitar that glow with a tender warmth. Likewise, the soft, gentle tone of Kärki's vocal delivery is as charming... particularly when in harmony with the frequent passages adorned with ethereal female backing vocals (courtesy of Anna-Elena Pääkkölä and Pirita Känkänen)... albeit the monotony of the sombreness of his voice does start to feel a little lacklustre after a while, as the album progresses.

The opening track, 'Entangled in Pleasure', had me... well.... entangled in listening pleasure. A beautiful opening number. The second track, 'Augurs of Winter', is a step down... wonderfully performed, but not as well composed. Kärki's singing is, perhaps, a little too sombre here. It all picks up again with 'Lustful, Wrathful, Sullen', which sees the instrumentation embellished with other elements - minimalist percussion and fleeting, atmospheric electric guitar. Then there's a burst of vocal magnificence on 'Beyond Distance', courtesy of 40 Watt Sun's Patrick Walker, with a singing performance that really brings the track, and album, to life. Then we're back with a jolt on 'Good Things in Life', as Kärki's soothingly sombre voice makes a return... but, it works a treat here. Perhaps this is helped by the vocal contrast on the previous song, as the next song, 'The Load We Carry', feels too sombre once again.

And that pretty much establishes the pattern of the album... which is one of ups and downs... great compositions mixed up with some lesser (though still likeable) songs that don't really see their full potential realised. I can't help but feel the album would've benefitted from more guest vocal spots, to bring more singing variety and diversity into the mix and breathe some extra life into some of the weaker tracks. However, what holds it all together is the album's emotional sincerity. It all feels incredibly heartfelt. In essence, these are folk-styled songs, with concomitant folk-styled vocals from Kärki over a large number of them (complete with minor dissonance in his voice... such is the nature of folk singing, I guess). All in all, 'Eye for an Eye' is a good album, but not a great one (albeit there are some great moments). Well worth checking out, nonetheless. And, based on 'Beyond Distance', an entire album with Patrick Walker's emotionally rich vocals and Kärki's beautiful guitar would be most welcome. One can hope, I guess.
Svart Records
Review by Mark Holmes
18th August 2017
1) Entangled in Pleasure
2) Augurs of Winter
3) Lustful, Wrathful, Sullen
4) Beyond Distance
5) Good Things in Life
6) The Load We Carry
7) Spearhead
8) The River of Shadows
9) The Last Wave
"...what holds it all together is the album's emotional sincerity. It all feels incredibly heartfelt."