I can't remember the last time an artist appeared seemingly out of nowhere and made such a lasting impact on me. Keijo has done this over the past 6 months, and just when I think he couldn't possibly release another album full of brilliant music, he does just that. In less than a year, this is fifth album (counting the double disc on Pseudo Arcana as two), and all of them are nothing short of spectactular.
"Jungle Joy" differs slightly from his past releases in that it is guitar-based. While his previous efforts each had a smattering of guitar playing, none were built around it like this album is. Like his other CD-Rs, "Jungle Joy" is densely textured and unique. On these eight tracks, Keijo explores another side of his native Jyv?skyl?. It's like getting lost in the forests outside the city, with only the trees and woodland creatures to keep you company as you brace for the oncoming cold night. But with "Jungle Joy" in hand, you are led into a deep cave that pierces the earth and provides warmth as the snow builds outside. This music is like being inside a bubble, protected by its warm glow, while chaos runs rampant on the outside.
Most impressive are the acoustic jams where Keijo leads us through conifer trees, calmly looking for a safe place to rest. "Around the Fields" shows keen pop sensibilities throughout it's meandering, melodic trek through tall grasses. Simple, sunkissed guitar chords bake in the summer heat while a lead guitar track floats lazily like a soaring bird. Keijo's trademark over his first three releases was extensive use of bells, chimes, and other metallic percussive-type instruments. On "Around the Fields," chimes and bells rest just underneath the surface, poking their heads above the waves only at opportune moments. This is such a soothing and beautiful track that is perfectly composed.
"Such a Beautiful Piece of Cake" uses a common instrument in a very uncommon way. The bulk of the song is based around an acoustic guitar playing jazz-like melodies. It almost has a laid back spirtual feeling to it. It's beautiful. But not to be satisfied with generic acoustic plucks and strums, Keijo pushes the envelope a bit further. The entire track is overlaid with him scraping the lowest string on an acoustic guitar, in rhythm. It makes the piece almost schizophrenic, with the calm chords on one-side and the erratic scraping on the other. It's a wonderful dichotomy that makes this track stand out. I was also unaware that Keijo was such an excellent guitar player. This is a man that oozes with talent. The title track features Keijo once again collaborating with Matti Pihl (he also appears on the song, "Gleam and Glow"). This piece strays from being guitar-centered and instead focusing on some other kind of instrumentation. I'm not exactly sure what it is, but it produces what I would call aboriginal synth sounds. I think it's a synthesizer, but it sounds so archaic that it is likely something else. This romp features more trademark metallic clangs and crashes in addition to other, tribal percussive elements. As the tension builds and builds, you feel like you will crumble under it's weight. Added marimbas do a fantastic job of evoking images of jungle creatures creeping up on their prey. It's an appropriately titled track.
There is not a weak moment on "Jungle Joy." In fact, I don't think there has been a weak moment on any one of Keijo's records. It's a testament to his ability to craft intricate, beautiful, and brilliant songs. "Shortly Over" is firmly planted in the summer sun, but as it dries in the heat, it longs for the cooler days autumn will bring. "Second Hand," which features help from the Jaarno Saarti Combo, has a dirty blues feeling to it. "Jungle Joy" traverses through numerous musical styles and doesn't miss a beat anywhere along the way.
The world of Keijo is a place I want to visit. Over the course of 52 years, he has amassed an endless amount of influences and has molded them into original ideas. His instrumental music flows from him like prose from a poet's lips. Each song speaks volumes without ever saying a word. When I put on any one of Keijo's records, I am overtaken; I am consumed. Having got to know this man somewhat, the beauty his music exudes is the same beauty he exudes. He loves life and everything that's beautiful about it. His music is a reflection of that love, and as it flows through my headphones into my ears, I feel like this is Keijo's world and we are all just living in it. 8/10 -- Brad Rose (25 May, 2005)