Think ‘female-fronted Scandinavian prog band’ and you’ll think of Nightwish and their imitators. Thank Odin then for the jazz-flavoured Paidarion. Taking as its concept a magical circus, their second album avoids overworked horror metal flourishes entirely, using instead moves more akin to Larry Carlton or Pat Metheny. This leads to some awkward moments, not least on the lounge jazz- tastic A Small Wish; The overall effect, however, is a delight.
The real thrill of Paidarion lies in their gift for intelligent improvisation, notably on Trapeze. Vocalist Elina Hatakoshi clearly has a good voice, showcased on ballad A Springtime Meadow, yet this is a band most at ease in the interplay of sax, flute, guitar and keyboards.
Entrance fee to this curious circus is justified by the strength of 10-minute opus A Vertical Rope alone. Guitar, violin and sax fold in and out; Hakatoshi’s vocals are both smooth and edgy enough to suggest the soundtrack for a screwed-up Bond movie. You want pomp? Check out the Bach-style organ intro to A Leap Into the Known.
The name means ‘small child’ in Ancient Greek, but there’s nothing childish about Padairon’s latest effort.