February 23, 2023

For those of you not in the know, HamaSaari is the name of an unexplored island in the land of the northern lights, Finland. Why this should be so, for a French band that is based in and around Le Mans, is intriguing! The island itself, according to the band, is literally Ineffable – in other words they found it indescribable, for them it was /is too beautiful or powerful to be adequately described or expressed in words. What I’m still not sure about is whether they are commenting on the island itself, or an old coal-fired power station at one end of the island which apparently gets decommissioned in April 2023, one month after the release of this little gem….anyway, on with the show!

The band was born from the ashes of the quintet’s previous ensemble, Shuffle, which had been around for nearly ten years. They’d got to the point where they simply decided they wanted to start again, from “ground zero” but acknowledging their collective previous experiences. So – a new dawn…

HamaSaari is deliberately serene and relatively melancholic prog, less Metal than before. Their ‘sombre’ new sound sets listeners adrift on a stormy, cinematic musical landscape that invokes images of a rain falling from a cloudy and dark sky, gradually revealing a scattering of light through the cloud, culminating in a halo of hope. In that sense there’s lots of hints of bands such as Pink Floyd, Porcupine Tree, Klone, Caligula’s Horse or Karnivool in the way that they create a sound that is at once both massive and delicate as they nimbly chisel and polish the twists and turns of a musical journey. 

HamaSaari touch on musical ideas and tones from all of the above artists, playing a sort of sleek, dark, and occasionally explosively emotive modern post-rock – Intrigued?

Line-Up :
Jordan Jupin : Vocals / Guitars
Sullivane Albertini : Keyboards
Antoine Alric : Guitars
Jonathan Jupin : Bass
Élie Chéron : Drums

Ineffable, the band’s debut full-length album, is both delicate and vigorous, with the use of poly-rhythmic bass and drums, vintage keyboards, Fender Rhodes, Hammond organs, Mellotrons all contributing to a dynamic, dark and colourful soundscape. After a meticulous writing and arrangements process, the band opted for organic and forthright production. The talented Guillaume Bernard (Klone, Polar Moon) accompanies them in the arrangements, guiding the band to refine the structures and the melodies. You can clearly hear that hint of Klone thoroughout the album!

Opener Different Time certainly gives you that sense of Porcupine Tree, trademark gentle sections and melodies yo-yoing with some meaty riffs. Crumbs flies that same flag, it’s a tasty, gently building intro, smooth vocals caressing your lobes while synths/ keys bubble away before a full-on rock band does its business. Maybe even gentle hints of Katatonia in these meatier moments? All in all, it’s a great track, combining the best elements of prog with something beefy and energetic!

Lords again captures a bittersweet melody that you can imagine either Bruce Soord or Stephen Wilson singing and playing. I do like the way the composition builds, fades, builds again…beautiful! Next up, Bleak is featured in the video below. The song starts with such a crisp clear set of vocals from Jordan and others, within a superbly balanced mix of percussive sound, before once again unleashing something you can definitely chew on! nearly all of these tracks are in the order of six minutes long, but they pack so much into thir arrangements, you’re constantly waiting for that next heavy/soft/metal/pastoral interlude – it all adds to the enjoyment of this quite enigmatic album!

White Pinnacles is perhaps the strongest post-rock track here, all staccato guitar riffs backed by a nicely rumbling bass, imploring vocals embellished by synths that could almost be Muse at their best! The mood is by turns threatening, epic, powerful, heavily melodic, harsh, with a full-on passage in the middle. Always tuneful, this is post-rock at its best!

Jordan (centre ) even looks like Stephen Wilson!

After all that excitement, Old Memories sort of drifts in, but with that acoustically heavy style Porcupine Tree have mastered – and thats my point, these guys are way up there in that sort of company, in fact perhaps better in that all these seven copmositions remain more accessible than some of TPT’s quirkier moments? Again I love the crispness and variety of instrumentation within the production – think “Deadwing era” and you’re on the right lines!

Prognosis is the last track, sparse and hauntingly beautiful at the outset, I have to say the melodic guitar work on this whole album is wonderful, you’re constantly floating on a wave of delicious anticipation. This one remains semi-acoustic until the end, a sort of serene send-off that perfectly concludes a near-perfect set of the very best “proggy post-rock” – whatever, it’s great!