Imaginaerum

All posts tagged Imaginaerum

By Carl Begai

Nightwish keyboardist/founder Tuomas Holopainen’s first official solo album, Music Inspired By The Life And Times Of Scrooge, isn’t metal by any means. The record is full blown big screen soundtrack music, which falls directly in line with Holopainen’s trademark songwriting over the last several years. The fact that its focus is the comic book character Scrooge McDuck in a book penned by artist Don Rosa, on the other hand, is not what one might expect from the man who turned female operatic vocals into a metaldom staple and crossed over into movie-making with the Nightwish epic from 2011, Imaginaerum. Holopainen is unashamed by his pet project and very proud of how it turned out; if the music convinces some fans to go out and pick up the book that inspired him, so much the better.

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“It’s been stated pretty clearly from the start that this is a marginal solo album that has nothing to do with metal or Nightwish,” says Holopainen. “It hasn’t been that big of a surprise to people. The biggest surprise seems to be why I’m being so childish (laughs). Of course, that can be expected if you choose to do and album based on a children’s comic book. It’s just ignorance though, because people don’t know what they’re talking about.”

If you’re a comic book geek you can appreciate the lengths Holopainen has gone to in bringing the Scrooge stories to life, having taken time away from his world famous day job. he makes no secret of the fact that he made the album to satisfy himself and nobody else.

“I wanted to make an album that would do these beautiful stories justice, and an album that I’d care to listen to myself. The music came out incredibly easy. I think it was probably, if not the easiest, one of the easiest albums I’ve ever produced because whenever I read this wonderful book my head is filled with music immediately. It was all about channelling it and getting it out, finding the right arrangements and the right instruments to perform it. I’ve had the dream of doing this soundtrack since 1999, so it’s about time that it saw daylight.” Continue Reading

By Carl Begai

There’s no doubt that the controversial firing of former Nightwish vocalist Anette Olzon in October 2012 made her out to be the bad guy, turning any press she does for her forthcoming solo album into a potential exercise in character assassination. It doesn’t help her situation in that the Nightwish camp has been quick to refute many of her recent accusations of backstabbing and mismanagement that have appeared online. Quite frankly, I was prepared to be stonewalled when asking questions about Nightwish due to the fact Olzon came across as a self-centered diva when she slammed the band for playing to a Denver, CO audience in 2012 with stand-in vocalists Elize Ryd (Amaranthe) and Alissa White-Gluz (The Agonist) after she fell ill. Turns out I was way off the mark and had to give Olzon the benefit of the doubt.

Thus, in the interest of giving her solo album Shine a fair shake we’re getting the Nightwish debacle out of the way first, to be followed soon by a full story on the new record.

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Rather than dig for the scurvy details and assorted dirt kicked up before and after her firing, the focus is on Olzon getting booted in the middle of the North American tour for Imaginaerum. It’s not a move most bands can afford to make in today’s music industry economy, sure as hell not without a back-up plan. And yet, 48 hours after Olzon was cut loose former After Forever vocalist Floor Jansen had taken over her post on stage, becoming the band’s permanent singer less than a year later.

“It’s hard for me to say why the firing happened when it did because I don’t really know what happened behind my back,” says Olzon. “I think there were some thing happening that I didn’t know about. It has become clearer to me now that they had some sort of a plan when I told them I was pregnant. I actually think they had some suspicions I was pregnant during the summer festivals, so I think they may have had a back-up plan.”

Olzon pegs the band’s reaction to her pregnancy as the primary reason for the falling out. She also claims Jansen wasn’t as much of a last minute consideration for the Nightwish line-up as people think, albeit in a temporary capacity.

“We had some discussions during the tour in America about how to cover the remaining gigs for the tours that were coming up, and we did have something of an argument before that. I didn’t want to have a substitute singer in the band, I wanted to do the South American shows. I would have been too pregnant to go to Australia so I wanted to push the dates back, but Tuomas (Holopainen / keyboards, founder) didn’t want that. Discussions about a substitute came up and at first I was like ‘Yeah, well…. okay…’ but when they mentioned Floor it was an automatic ‘No’ from me. I didn’t think it was a good idea because I knew what would happen; I knew the fans would love Floor because she’s a metal singer and I’m a pop singer, and I wanted to keep my job. Because I couldn’t do the Australian tour, I think that’s when they started thinking about a new singer. We had a bit of an argument, then I got ill, and after that…. I don’t know if they planned this.” Continue Reading

By Carl Begai

During a recent interview with Nightwish keyboardist mastermind Tuomas Holopainen about the band’s forthcoming DVD Showtime, Storytime and their decision to make vocalist Floor Jansen a permanent member, he discussed his orchestral project currently on the go, The Life And Times Of Scrooge McDuck. At press time the album was being mixed and a release date was tentatively slated for April 2014. Described by Holopainen as “somewhere between film music, folk and classical, echoing distantly the works of Vaughan Williams, Enya, Mike Oldfield and Michael Nyman”, he’s in the process of bringing another one of his dreams to life.

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“This particular graphic novel called The Life And Times Of Scrooge McDuck would be my desert island book,” says Holopainen. “That or Lord Of The Rings, I’m not sure. It had such a huge impact on me ever since I read it for the first time in 1996, and I had the idea for Scrooge back in 1999. It’s been there for 14 years. Every time I read those wonderful stories by Don Rosa my head is filled with music, and at some point it just needed to come out. Then I had the idea of doing a soundtrack to the graphic novel, and it was an idea that just sounded so awkward and far off that I had to do it (laughs). I can’t think of too many albums that are made as a soundtrack to a book; there was a guy in the ’70s that did it for Lord Of The Rings but that’s the only one that comes to mind. So this project is quite innovative in that sense.”

It sounds like an odd undertaking, no question, but Holopainen is known for thinking outside the box. When word came down that Nightwish would release a movie based on his concept for the Imaginaerum album a lot of people – critics and fans – were left wondering why they’d bother. Ultimately, anyone who asked Holopainen why he and the band would bother to invest time and a couple million dollars on the project received what amounted to “because we want to” as an answer. Continue Reading

By Carl Begai

The long awaited Nightwish follow-up to Dark Passion Play from 2007, Imaginaerum, is a masterpiece. The greatest thing since the creation of fire. Grander the invention of the wheel. A tour de force that has pushed the power metal and classical music scenes to learn French and admit they have no clue what “bombastic” really means. A showcase of musical genius that has composer John Williams considering changing his last name to Holopainen. Better than half-drunk pre-marital sex. So awesome they had to make a movie about/for/with it. Blah blah fucking blah add nausea…

Yes indeed, the media hack hype machine has been puckering up and kissing ass ever since the album was made accessible to the press, likely upping the sales of Chapstick by 200%. Only thing is, Imaginaerum is a bloody masterpiece, particularly if you’re a Nightwish fan that’s been able to see beyond Tarja Turunen’s cleavage.

If not for potential accusations of plagiarism, Nightwish could have gotten away with calling the album Tuomas In Wonderland. Spawned and nurtured by keyboardist / songwriter / founder Tuomas Holopainen, Imaginaerum is his full blown journey into the depths of fairytales and fantasy, something that’s been a here-and-there part of the Nightwish formula from album to album since the band’s inception. It earns the title “epic” before things are even a third done, the majority of the songs being a clear cut and necessary step up and away from Dark Passion Play on almost every count. Just how far one is willing to be yanked down Holopainen’s personal rabbit hole depends on how much time you’re willing to invest in a new, insanely ambitious, and occasionally bizarre take on a traditional soundtrack. Continue Reading

By Carl Begai

Marco Hietala is best known these days as the bassist / male vocalist for Finnish bashers Nightwish, but since hooking up with the band in 2002 fans have learned of his other outfit, veteran straight-ahead metalheads, Tarot. In actual fact, he’s been hammering out albums and low-key tours with Tarot for over 25 years, a truth the metal world has learned more and more about since their international release of the Crows Fly Black album in 2006. A breakthrough that can be credited to his Nightwish day job. Following is an excerpt from my recent interview with Hietala about Tarot’s new and remagined album, Spell Of Iron MMXI, and the forthcoming Nighwish epic, Imaginarium…

With one new album under his belt for 2011 (Spell Of Iron MMXI), Hietala’s focus is now on Imaginarium. Still a work in progress, it’s not expected to surface until early 2012.

“I’ve recorded all my stuff,” he reveals. “All my vocals and basses are done, a couple acoustic guitar things. And the mixes for those parts have also been done, already.”

With regards to the extended wait for Imaginarium, Hietala admits he’s in the same boat as the fans and is chomping at the bit to hear the final product.

“That sucks for me personally,” he says of the wait, “but the reason for that is we still have the movie in the works as well, and it’s going to take some time for it to be finished. The album and the movie go pretty much hand-in-hand because the whole movie is built around the music of the album. We decided to push the release so that we can put them out together.” Continue Reading