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Höyry-Kone - Huono Parturi CD (album) cover





4.25 | 158 ratings

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4 stars (8/10)

Things didn't get any less bizarre on Höyry-Kone's second album, "Huono Parturi". In fact, they took a lot of the ideas and approach from "Hyönteisiä Voi Rakastaa", added a bunch more, and pushed it to another level. This time around, the band seems a lot more together too, and the material is a lot more memorable as a result.

Much like 70s Finnish proggers Haikara, Höyry-Kone draws inspiration principally from King Crimson (though probably Haikara too), but Höyry-Kone also branched out enough to make it into the Avant-garde. However, more important than sonic similarities, the levels of creativity and willingness to experiment also remind me of KC. There is just such a feeling of freedom about this album, like they were just going to do whatever they wanted. Oh, and it sounds great too; that always helps.

The core sound to this album consists of a raucous blend of harsh guitars and impressive violin/cello, along with pounding complex rhythms and interspersed with occasional booming male vocals and quieter sections. Well, that still doesn't really encapsulate the core sound, but then there are quite a few songs that are nothing like it anyway. For instance the first song, "Beata Viscera", is a serene Latin opera, completely unlike the rest of the album, and goes on for about 7 minutes. Unlike some other reviewers I definitely enjoy this song, but it is a complete misdirect as to what the rest of the album will sound like. It's even in a completely different language (the rest of the vocals are in Finnish).

After the opening, the album launches headlong into madness with "Terva-Antti Ku Häihin Lähti". The first time I listened to this album, I had turned up the volume quite loud to listen to the quieter parts of the first song, so the harsh strike of the opening riff actually made me jump when it caught me completely by surprise. This song is a dramatic string fuelled gallop, where the guitar sounds like it's in pain at times, the way it screeches. Whilst no song on here could be fully representative of such a diverse album, it nonetheless does give a better indication of what the rest of the album will sound like. The next song, "Karhunkaato", also really rocks. The strong male vocals return, and the violin guides complex rhythms that still manage to be strong and driving.

Things don't let up with "Lumisah", another quite heavy song. The percussion really crashes here and the violin floats around sinisterly as it so often does on this album. Weird but headbangable (yes that definitely is a word)! For me, headbanging then turns to a sort of enjoyable bemusement, with the good humoured interlude "Baksteri". It's a Silly little piece of old school jazz that (at less than two minutes) manages to be a fun interjection without outstaying it's welcome. It provides a brief but welcome break before just ending strangely and without much ceremony.

The title track, "Huono Parturi" takes us back to the hard rocking mix of harsh Frippish guitar riffing and slithering violin. Once again Topi Lehtipuu shows great strength with his vocals, and good range too. As with the rest of the album, Höyry-Kone play very well as a unit, often stopping and starting together, or paying intricately across each other without ever getting into a mess. This leads into another two minute interesting little track, which again is completely different to the rest of the album. "Ullakon Lelut" is an atmospheric ethereal piece, that holds attention intensely, and again is just the right length. It also serves as proof Höyry-Kone can be subtle as well as bold.

Once more, just when they've set you into one mood that's when they slam you in the face with the aggressive heavy stuff, in this case "Tottele". I Think I can hear some growling noises in the background at certain points, which is fun. I also like the thick distorted bass soloing on this song, which puts me in mind of John Wetton. "Tottele" is another short song, but heavy and mad this time, so it feels like a hit and run. The album then continues with "Kala" and "Laahustaja", both of which take their time a bit more and move between slower, quieter, calmer sections and more exciting sections, in quite a natural manner (not an easy feat for weird music like this). "Laahustaja" also features some enjoyable guiding contributions from the flute which I liked.

After an exhausting journey, things finally conclude with "Laina-Ajalla". There are some high quality vocals here, Finnish does really accent the delivery in a good way, I think. It does mean I have no idea what the song is going on about, though according to google translate, some sort of photographer. The other songs appear to be about tipping bears, attic toys and fish, so I can only assume all manner of spectacular nonsense is being sung about. There is some more guitar torturing (definite squeals) and the song (and indeed the album) ends with a crescendo of wailing vocals before fading away to some odd noises. Phew!

Late 90s Finland might not be an obvious place to look for imaginative and exciting Avant-Prog, but this album really impressed me, and you should definitely check it out. It's full of ideas, and great inventive musicianship from all instruments. Even the percussion has some odd sounds (e.g. metal clinks). The mix of shorter pieces and heavy bombardment, along with the variety of music on offer make this a brilliant album to get into. It's such a shame Höyry-Kone ended things here; goodness knows where they would have gone next!

ScorchedFirth | 4/5 |


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