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Pekka Streng - Pekka Streng & Olympia-orkesteri: Unen Maa CD (album) cover


Pekka Streng


Prog Folk

3.09 | 4 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars Pekka Streng was for many years aware that he would not live long because of his disease. He walked into the record company as a more or less unknown chap with his demos and told that he wanted to make an album, already knowing the short future prediction. Love Records thus found one of their most unique artists and in the years 1970 and 1972 they released Streng's two albums. Several years followed but the third album never materialized even though he kept making demos.

Until in this millennium his son Joonia decided after years of hard thinking, that these tapes do have so much to say that it would be wrong not to bring the best of them to the listeners, even if the result could not be exactly like Pekka himself would have made it. Those demo tapes featuring Pekka alone (voice and acoustic guitar) are far from superb in the sound quality - and actually that feature kept me sceptical about this album for over a year until I finally borrowed it - but in the end it doesn't matter so much. There's no question whether this album deseved to be done. Certainly it did. And it is first and foremost HIS album.

It was mostly in the hands of Jukka Hakoköngäs how to arrange songs for a full group that was named as Olympia Orkesteri (featuring top musicians such as saxophonist Jukka Perko and guitarist Timo Kämäräinen; Hakoköngas is a multi-instrumentalist concentrating on keyboards). He's done a fine job in most cases. Some short solo performances are left more or less as they are, and these I find the weak part of the work. Hey, actually there's an album of slightly similar history: Jim Morrison's American Prayer which was musically realized by The Doors. But really these two albums are not very comparable. First, Jim's spoken word performances were of high artistic and sound quality on their own, and the band was the same as it had been. As I was saying, a large deal of Unen maa needs to be listened as poetry more than as music. I myself have always enjoyed Streng's original albums as music and maybe given less emphasis on the poetic side, so I find these demo-like tracks rather dull.

But some definitive highlights raise from the album already in the first listening. 'Suruperhonen' (Butterfly of Sorrow) and 'Sinä aamuna' (On That Morning) are very beautiful and deeply touching, both as music and as poetry, which reflect the arriving farewell from the world. No, the whole album is not sad or melancholic or even introvert in lyrics. But these two saddest songs I love the best.

The album remains quite short (37 minutes or so) and musically it is not as fully materialized as I wished, but still: thank you for giving this album to all of us. R.I.P.

Matti | 3/5 |


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