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Haikara - Haikara IV - Domino CD (album) cover

HAIKARA IV - DOMINO

Haikara

 

Eclectic Prog

3.33 | 15 ratings

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ScorchedFirth
2 stars (5/10)

Haikara's 1998 release, "Haikara IV: Domino", was the first from the band in 22 years. Only Vesa Lattunen remains from the original lineup. I went into this with no idea of what I was about to hear (I did not find any reviews). I thought the first Haikara album was excellent, the second was reasonable, and the third was awful. I went in with no real expectations. Where, I wondered, would Lattunen take Haikara now that he had more control again? It turns out, something new.

The first half of the album ("Polku", "Portti" and "Ykseys") takes a soft approach. The guitar is now mostly acoustic, and the saxophone takes an almost smooth jazz approach at times, flowing rather than blasting. It works okay, but I'm left wondering why Kenny G is playing in Haikara? Truth be told these 3 tracks are a little dull, and samey. Well, maybe that's not entirely fair. It can get a bit more exciting/rocky at times, which the saxophone partially matches, though it can also stray into some cheesy territory at times. There are some pleasant melodies, but not much more than that, definitely no drama or bombast.

The second half ("Lady", "Gloria Deo" and "Kultamalja") is much better. There are also some new sounds, the 'monk choir' on "Gloria Deo" for example. Interestingly, Lattunen claims that the choir came to him in a dream. "Gloria Deo" is easily the most exciting track of the album; darker/heavier and more electric guitar driven than anything else on the record. The ominous choir opens the track, and caught me off guard the first time I listened to the album, then we are into the main electric guitar 5/8 riff, injecting a bit of heaviness. The saxophone comes in with a bit of menace over the top, the whole thing has the same dark feeling the first album had! The drums offer some intent as well, at times, and work well with the excellent slightly Frippish guitar over the heavy bass near the end. Personally, I wish I could have heard more from the choir, but even so, this one is really good. There is a real King Crimson vibe to it, more so than any other Haikara song.

Haikara have often had the knack of writing short but effective beautiful little songs. "Polku" doesn't quite live up to this, with its soft recorder tones, but the album closer "Kultamalja" very much does. The acoustic guitar is back to play us out, and the delicate vocals work well. The song end up feeling like a sad lullaby, with a very melancholic slow beauty to it.

Mostly worth checking out for Haikara fans, mainly for the excellent "Gloria Deo", and perhaps "Kultamalja" also.

ScorchedFirth | 2/5 |

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