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Haikara - Geafar CD (album) cover

GEAFAR

Haikara

 

Eclectic Prog

3.78 | 55 ratings

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ScorchedFirth
3 stars (6/10)

With their second effort, Haikara move away somewhat from their first. There is a lot more fuzzy guitar, and passages that feel like extended jams. There are some good moments, but nothing quite as hard-hitting or dramatic as the best moments of their eponymous first album. There were also some personnel changes, most felt in the vocals. Out go the stronger male vocals (presumably of Vesa Lehtinen), but in come the floating female vocals of Auli Lattunen.

Lehtinen's powerful singing was one of the things I really liked about the first Haikara album (that and the blasting saxophone), and it gave the band more of it's own character, so this is a great loss. Vesa Lattunen handles the majority on his own, and doesn't do enough to retain this key feature. Consequently, songs like "Change" and "Kun Menet Tarpeeksi Kauas Tulevaisuuteen, Huomaat Olevasi Menneisyydessä" lack power.

"Change" (sung in English) sort of meanders in the same tone for a while. The sax is still effective, but there is less variance, less intensity, and the song feels like an extended semi-psychedelic jam at times, more an exercise in fuzz guitar than anything else. The same could be said of the first half of "Kun Menet Tarpeeksi Kauas Tulevaisuuteen, Huomaat Olevasi Menneisyydessä", another repetitive jazz-tinged jam that doesn't really go anywhere. About 5 minutes in though, we finally see some of the edge that made the debut great, the aggressive intent is there, and welcome, especially with respect to the guitar. This is followed by a couple of rather ethereal passage of female vocals accompanied by flute, the saxophone building well in between them.

In fact, the female vocals do add a significant new dimension to the music of Haikara, especially on "Kantaatti", a short, piano led number. Here, the haunting vocals truly float. Violin and flute come in later and make this a compact but beautiful number. They are also used to good effect on "Laulu Surullisesta Pilvestä" (where the soft male vocals are found lacking).

Probably "Geafar", the title track, will bring the most attention. Just shy of 14 minutes, it is Haikara's longest song to date. It breaks down into brooding or mellow quieter passages a lot, but the noisier passages just don't have the energy to make the contrast as effective as the debut. The overall structure is still very progressive and enjoyable though, and some of the parts are really good. As with the rest of the album, the guitar is often prominent, but isn't quite doing enough to earn that status (same with the male vocals). The strength of this track is definitely in the instrumental passages, some of which are really great. Overall the track is good, and I do like it, but at the same time it doesn't quite live up to the standard set by previous longer songs like "Yksi Maa & Yksi Kansa" or "Manala".

Most instruments do still get their time to shine, but it is sometimes done in a casual way, and often without enough drama or drive. "Geafar" is lot less aggressive, a lot less mellow, less sonically broad, and really a bit more middle of the road compared with "Haikara". Much like "Haikara", the album really gets going more in the second half, but "Change" is not nearly as fun as the first track off the first album. It's possible others might prefer this slightly more laid back and straightforward version of the group, but not me.

To me, this was a bit of a step down for individuality, but not a huge disappointment. There is still much to be enjoyed here. There are passages that are a bit of a drag, but nothing bad. In particular, "Kantaatti" and "Geafar" are the best offerings. This would probably be the logical next step for someone wanting more after having enjoyed the first album.

ScorchedFirth | 3/5 |

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