Brass-illuminated rumination on one’s life journey from a Finnish visionary.
You may read the title of this project as “wine” or see it as a twist on the name of Matti Laine, the man behind LA YNE: either way, there’s perception at play which “La Grande Illusion” is all about. The Suomi collective’s album feels deliciously hazy and piercingly sharp at the same time, the time being another ethereal concept here – vague but obvious in the unhurriedly insistent “5:15” (the cut’s exact duration) or “December 23” clock/calendar notches. As Matti maps out bass throb over ivories’ layers on the two-part title track, a record’s bookend, the mood shifts are shaped by the blistering trumpet shards of Verneri Pohjola, the son of the great late Pekka, for the result to be intimately grandiose.
If it doesn’t seem so in the groove-oriented pieces such as “Par Avion” with its Eastern patterns and mesmeric vocals, once a tune’s turned onto jazz there’s no escaping from the melodic flow, and the chant and wail of “Stigmata” add to the tension-filled magnetic field. That’s why while “Meiko” is rather glossy in its sway, abetted by Pekka Laine’s guitar riffs, “The First Snowfall” wraps a nervous sort of elegy around a quivering voice, before “Unexpected” folds the overall cinematic experience into a homeward-bound shuffle over the dancefloor only to unfurl a lush song with a soaring solo further on.
So however ephemeral this album is – always in the moment – the bliss it creates can’t be less illusory: it’s as grand as life itself is.