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Haikara - Haikara CD (album) cover




Eclectic Prog

4.23 | 168 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars Lahti-based HAIKARA (= stork) was doubtlessly the most important Finnish seventies prog act outside Helsinki and the Love Records legacy. This dark-toned debut album (compared e.g. to early KING CRIMSON, TASAVALLAN PRESDENTTI and VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR) ranks among the most respected items of the Finnish prog history. Now it has been re-released on vinyl by Svart Records -- with new liner notes by yours truly (that, if I may add, are also written in much better English than my PA reviews!). I won't go here into the band's formation etc, nor am I using the re-release article as a basis of this review.

In short, two of the members (the frontman Vesa Lattunen and saxophonist-flautist Harri Pystynen) were playing also in Lahti Town Orchestra, and the influence of classical music plus the musical education can naturally be heard in Haikara's music. The album was produced by Heikki Virtanen, later best known as the bassist of Tasavallan Presidentti, who however didn't much take part in the artisctic process. The up-tempo opener (= The Begging of a Poor Boy) differs quite radically from the dark and eclectic prog on the rest of the album. The brass section is used cleverly, and especially the little details in the end of this strangely hilarious track show a sense of humour normally not linked to the band. 'Luoja kutsuu' (= God Calls) is nearly collapsing under the preaching pathos against institutionalized religion, but the next one (= One Country - One Nation) reaches up to excellent, dynamic prog in its instrumental sections.

'Jälleen on meidän' (= Is Ours Again) has bluesy jazz-rock riffing and an electric guitar solo that make it resemble Tasavallan Presidentti. The gorgeous closer 'Manala' (= Underworld [of the dead]) builds very effective contrasts between the otherworldly delicacy and the edginess finished by gritty VDGG-like saxes.

Just like the grotesque cover art by Markus Heikkerö, "Haikara" is a strong, deeply impressive and -- despite some recognizable influences from the more forerunning prog acts of Britain and Finland -- highly original prog classic that may require some acquired taste. The masterpiece ranking is justified.

Matti | 5/5 |


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