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Rajaton

Out Of Bounds (2006)

5.0

June 3, 2007

Tuning / Blend 5.0
Energy / Intensity 5.0
Innovation / Creativity 5.0
Soloists 4.7
Sound / Production 4.7
Repeat Listenability 4.0
Tracks
1 Dobbin's flowery Vale (2006 version) 5.0
2 Un-Wishing Well (2006 version) 4.7
3 Butterfly 5.0
4 We Walk In A Fog (2006 version) feat. The Real Group 5.0
5 Vanishing Act 5.0
6 The Wild Song 4.3
7 I Was Brought To My Senses 4.7
8 Lady Madonna 4.3
9 Salty Water 5.0
10 Snow 4.3
11 How Little 4.7
12 Mitä kaikatat, kivonen ? (2006 version) 5.0

Recorded 2000 – 2006
Total time: 44:51, 12 songs


Tuning / Blend 5
Energy / Intensity 5
Innovation / Creativity 5
Soloists 5
Sound / Production 5
Repeat Listenability 5
Tracks
1 Dobbin's flowery Vale (2006 version) 5
2 Un-Wishing Well (2006 version) 5
3 Butterfly 5
4 We Walk In A Fog (2006 version) feat. The Real Group 5
5 Vanishing Act 5
6 The Wild Song 4
7 I Was Brought To My Senses 5
8 Lady Madonna 5
9 Salty Water 5
10 Snow 5
11 How Little 5
12 Mitä kaikatat, kivonen ? (2006 version) 5

What to do with a group that finally releases its first English language CD since 2001 and so much of it is repeated material from their last one? Well, if you've never heard Rajaton, and/or never purchased one of their albums, then the answer is simple: buy it now. It's a no-brainer. Immediately. Right away.

For the uninitiated, there is no such thing as less-than-excellent Rajaton CD. The name Rajaton has become synonymous with all things musically gorgeous: intonation, blend, feel, production. You name it, these Finns have mastered it. Out Of Bounds is another feather in their collective cap and if you don't own one, this is the Rajaton CD to buy.

But what of the rest of us, who know of Rajaton, the award-winning, platinum-selling, sensational a cappella sextet from Finland? Well, that depends on how big a fan of theirs you are. But I still say buy it now. It's a no-brainer. Immediately. Right away.

Why?

Well, if you're cynical about re-buying some of the same material — the similarity in CD names, Out Of Bounds and Boundless, is either purposeful or an accurate coincidence — then I offer you The Wild Song, I Was Brought To My Senses, How Little and the CARA-winning Best Folk/World Song Mita Kaikatat, Kivonen. Are these tracks worth buying the whole CD? I say yes, but it's your call.

As for me, an unabashed fan, the best indicator I can offer is my "Repeat Listenability" score which is a "5" for the first time. The simple fact is that while there are always little gems to appreciate on every Rajaton CD, this is really the one you want to burn to your MP3 player and keep in active rotation.

Besides the new material which is most welcome, the English lyrics for material I appreciated only a distance on Kevat make those tracks infinitely more accessible and enjoyable. Suddenly the funky and intriguing Venelaulu, scoring a 4, becomes the reggae-infused, reflective, alternately melancholy and hopeful Salty Water, scoring a 5. The techno-influenced, seemingly overdone Kivinen Tie, also a 4, is transformed into the powerful, thundering and threatening ballad Vanishing Act, also now a 5. Even Lunta, which I scored a 5 the first time around, proves infinitely more pleasing with its new English lyrics.

And if that isn't enough, how can you resist a collaboration with The Real Group? Sure, We Walk in a Fog is sung down a half-step or two, but that doesn't change how phenomenal it is. Plus, the extra voices make room for a VP track that is a terrific enhancement to the original, as well an even fuller, richer sound that is positively breathtaking.

So as I said, buy this CD now. Immediately. Right away. You won't regret it.


Tuning / Blend 5
Energy / Intensity 5
Innovation / Creativity 5
Soloists 4
Sound / Production 5
Repeat Listenability 3
Tracks
1 Dobbin's flowery Vale (2006 version) 5
2 Un-Wishing Well (2006 version) 4
3 Butterfly 5
4 We Walk In A Fog (2006 version) feat. The Real Group 5
5 Vanishing Act 5
6 The Wild Song 5
7 I Was Brought To My Senses 4
8 Lady Madonna 3
9 Salty Water 5
10 Snow 5
11 How Little 5
12 Mitä kaikatat, kivonen ? (2006 version) 5

Coming out of almost three years of retirement, I was fortunate to receive Out of Bounds for my second debut as a RARB reviewer. From start to finish, I was wholly impressed by Rajaton's precision and musical skill. This Finnish sextet has gone platinum (Finland's version of platinum is 30,000 albums sold) and it is not hard to hear why.

RARB has reviewed four of Rajaton's previous albums: Kevat, Joulu, Sanat, and Boundless. Rajaton received overall scores of 5.0 across the board; this album is no exception.

With Out of Bounds, Rajaton has revisited and rerecorded material from its previous albums. The very helpful liner notes let listeners know that Tracks 1-4, and 8 were originally recorded on Boundless (released in 2001); Tracks 5 and 9-10 are English versions of Finnish songs from Kevat (released in 2005); and Track 12 was originally recorded on Nova (released in 2000).

Rajaton succeeds the most with it ethereal, folky tunes and less with its more contemporary sounding work. In particular, the arrangement of Lady Madonna was a bit jarring and empty when compared with the lush wall of sound Rajaton usually provides.

While folks who own all of Rajaton's previous albums may be disappointed in the lack of new material, I was more than happy with their musical offering. For those of you who have yet to hear Rajaton, this album is a great introduction.


Tuning / Blend 5
Energy / Intensity 5
Innovation / Creativity 5
Soloists 5
Sound / Production 4
Repeat Listenability 4
Tracks
1 Dobbin's flowery Vale (2006 version) 5
2 Un-Wishing Well (2006 version) 5
3 Butterfly 5
4 We Walk In A Fog (2006 version) feat. The Real Group 5
5 Vanishing Act 5
6 The Wild Song 4
7 I Was Brought To My Senses 5
8 Lady Madonna 5
9 Salty Water 5
10 Snow 3
11 How Little 4
12 Mitä kaikatat, kivonen ? (2006 version) 5

Rajaton follows up their well-received album Kevä with another stunner in Out Of Bounds, a collection of some of their favorite music spanning the group's career. Rajaton is at the top of their game and show it in almost every aspect of their performance.

While Kevät was focused on music more traditional to their native Finland, Out Of Bounds offers more for the western listener. First off, the majority of the tracks are in English. Further, Out Of Bounds offers a wide diversity of musical styles: they offer the Latin infused Un-Wishing Well and even a cover of a Beatles tune. The album covers the gamut from traditional folks tunes through pop, rock, jazz and classically infused tracks.

Rajaton sounds as sublime as ever. Tone is focused, perfectly in tune, well blended, and always appropriate to the music they are singing. Production is stellar, adding the right touches of studio magic to their beautiful sound. Arrangements are great, as are the numerous originals presented.

My personal favorite was probably the opener, Dobbin's Flowery Vale, which sounded almost like Native American chant at some points. Another high point is We Walk in a Fog, which features The Real Group, the original Scandinavian supergroup.

Despite all these successes, I found myself not liking Out Of Bounds as much as Kevät, and I think it's because of the English language tracks. There was something about the inaccessibility of the language on Kevät that somehow made the music more beautiful to me. The track Vanishing Act is a perfect example: on Out Of Bounds it's presented as an English language version of a previous release, but I liked it better when it was in the original Finnish. Across the album the lyrics are often awkward and don't live up to how well written the music is. Take the track Snow for instance, which has a chorus that repeats "But you're only made of snow, lonely is my heart when only you are snow." When I focused on the music exclusively I found myself enjoying everything a little more.

On the whole, however, Out Of Bounds is an amazing album. American fans of a cappella would do well to tune in.


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Ordering Information

To order this album, visit A-cappella.com, Primarily A Cappella, Plastinka, or, for autographed editions, the group's website.

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