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UTOPIANISTI

Utopianisti

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.02 | 3 ratings

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Matti
4 stars Utopianisti is a Finnish project of multi-instrumentalist Markus Pajakkala; the second album has just been released (I'll review that later). This debut is amazing and I hope that Utopianisti gets the international recognition it deeply deserves. Avestin's review is very good and I fully agree upon its each comment. Indeed this is music that gets your body shake and makes you feel happy, at least if you listen to it in a suitable mood. Very far from being dead serious! The lively, joyful spirit catches the listener too. Pajakkala is rather young chap but what a talent he is! He plays drums and other percussion, several saxes, flute and keyboards (plus sings on one track) and he's responsible of the arrangements that often approach the big band. All the music is composed by him. Since Utopianisti is not a touring band, he has recruited all the guests for the needs of each individual track, just like Robert Wyatt did after his body injury. The old ace Anssi Tikanmäki has co- produced the album.

'Plutonium Fist' (and its half-minute distorted intro 'Alkusoitto') is like a high speed twist with the emphasis on drums and saxophone. 'Grain de l'âme' is one of my favourites, it shows Pajakkala's versatility as composer and arranger, as it features also more delicate parts starring flute and keyboards. 'Avaruuden shamaanit' (The Space Shamans) is a funky tune built on a baritone saxophone phrase. I find it a bit boring in its repetitiveness.

'Waltz for FZ' (meaning Frank Zappa, naturally) is another highlight. A melodic, lively and richly arranged composition mostly in danceable mid-tempo. I hear some Pekka Pohjola influence. J-P Jääskeläinen has a little vibraphone solo, and on the next short track 'Castro Brothers' he gets the lead on marimba and xylophone.

'Kärry' (Carriage) belongs to my least favourites; I'm not very fond of the funk flavour present on many tracks. 'Markus-sedän letkeämpi klezmer' (The More Easy-Going Klezmer of Uncle Markus; by the way Markus-setä was a legendary person who made radio programmes for children many decades ago) is a fast and playful track with many surprises along the way, such as a sitar/flute dialogue. 'Bordeaux' brings some old-fashioned continental elegance, featuring Markus Luomala on accordion.

'Hopeinen kyy' (Silver Viper; a wordplay on 'Hopeinen kuu', a classic Finnish schlager of Italian origin) is again fast, almost frenzy. A wonderful flute part, perhaps a nod to Ian Anderson? 'Sull on mies joka planeetalla' (You Have a Man on Every Planet) is the only vocal-song, let's say it's a hilarious, swinging rock'n'roll retro-schlager. 'Tuonelan lautturi' (The Ferryman of ... well, Tuonela is the land of death in Kalevala) is yet another funky track with the baritone sax taking lead, but it has also a spooky synth.

Time will tell how this music will taste after becoming more familiar. Either one learns to appreciate all its details even more, or the happiness so strongly present on the first listening will lose some of its spark. Anyway, if you're looking for Zappa-influenced upbeat jazz-rock, check this one out immediately!

Matti | 4/5 |

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