by Madeleine Rice
Release Date: September 11, 2017
The album art for GEA’s Butterflies is minimalist in color, layers of watercolor arranged symmetrically to fittingly create a subtle depiction of a butterfly. The music reflects the nature of the artwork; however, it’s impossible for me to say that GEA has flown to musical heights or even begun to spread their wings. I was unfortunately displeasured by the Finnish electro-folk group that initially intrigued me due to the suggestion that they “sound like” Bjork, a musical gem and unique icon in the realm of avante-garde jazz, rock and experimentation. I didn’t realize upon selecting the album for review that an outrageously bold comparison such as this could mean either surprising beauty or a dastardly mess, the latter far more likely and what happens to be the outcome of this musical selection.
A striking feature of the album is the rather confusing disassociation between the vocal lines and the accompanying instrumental melodies. The ethereal quality of the Finnish folk instruments, the strings, and the piano were well captured in terms of the professionalism behind studio recording as well as emotional impact and musical correctness. Despite sounding as predictable as a soundtrack to a children’s movie, the instrumentation has potential merit. Lyrically, the album is completely turned on its head. There were a few times throughout Butterflies, especially evident in the songs “Friendship Hoax” and “Real You and Me” that I found myself legitimately questioning the possibility of vocal recording taking place in the comfort of a bedroom, edited online after weak expulsions of sound to correct pitch in a disconcerting way. It’s clear that GEA’s vocalist, Laura Avonius has the ability to remain within a key, yet the pitch is consistently compromised, creating unintentional atonal clashes that only serve to call to question the time spent on the songs’ construction and attention to detail. Avonius tends to remain in the higher register which detracts from the potential power she could have as a vocalist and limits her range of melodic motion. “Real You and Me” introduces a second singer, and neither seem to know when to properly breath or how to shift smoothly between notes. Additionally, there’s a lack of harmony, which isn’t always necessary but would’ve helped to mask the obvious and consistent mistakes. The tone of the song arouses the thought of a couple singing together, drunken at a bar on open mic night, except burned to a CD and professionally sold. Still, wherever there’s mistakes, there’s something positive to be said, and the beauty of the trumpet-like instrumentation within “Enemy,” the wistfulness of the violin within “Alone” and even the care taken to create deep thoughtfulness within the vocal lines of “Wind” show a possible brighter future for GEA. If greater attention is paid to production and focus on technicalities within the next album, I may eventually shift my views of the band. Until then, you won’t catch me keeping updated on whether they’ve shed the cocoon.