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Mellotron Storm
4 stars FANTASIA were a band from Finland who released this lone album back in 1975. I have to thank Todd for recommending this band to me, he knows my tastes in music quite well. What I love about this album is the melancholy, and it's not that obvious, but that's what really appeals to me.

"Pilvien Takaa" is the only track that really brings WIGWAM to mind for me. Keyboards, drums and vocals lead in this feel good opener. I really like the intrumental section from before 2 minutes to before 4 minutes. "Unikuva" has this intro that is amazing and it comes and goes throughout this track. It's basically drums,bass and guitar but it hits the spot perfectly for me. Some nice guitar before 3 minutes as well. "Huutokauppa" has some good bottom end as the keys and guitar take turns leading over top. So good.

"Suihkuliidolla" features some more great instrumental work. Again it's melancholic. Some violin in this one too. "Hautausmaani Rannoilla" opens with spacey synths then it kicks in at a minute with vocals. "Tulen Pisara" opens with gentle guitar as reserved vocals join in then synths.Keys 2 minutes in then that melancholic mood sets in. Nice. Vocals are back before 4 1/2 minutes. "Agressio" opens with psychedelic sounding guitar then it kicks in with some vigor with prominant drumming and guitar. "Harma Jazz" is a short guitar led instrumental. "Depressio" is laid back with guitar. Synths roll in after 2 minutes then it picks up some. It settles back again as the tempo continues to shift throughout.

A special little album without a doubt. It's great finding these obscure gems. Easily 4 stars.

Report this review (#335439)
Posted Friday, November 26, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Fantasia was and is an obscure little band from Finland with one album self titled released in 1975 at Hi-Hat Records. This album was re issued on CD few years ago and aswell the vinyl, so maybe with this re issues they will be little more popular among prog fans. This is the type of jazz rock/progressive rock that I can enjoy every day, is not overly complex but for sure is not easy listning, something between Tabula Rasa with Wigwam atmosphere. Here are pieces with voice and instrumentals, from mellow passages with melacholic feel because of the violin work to more up beat passages, Fanatasia mange to create a really solid album to my ears. Very nice well performed guitars like on Harma Jazz a very energic instrumental, vintage moog, some sax aswell is present here and there, all in all everything is decent and well played. This is not a groundbreaking release for sure, but is quite enjoyble from start to finish with no weak moments, maybe the vocal parts are not on par with instrumental greatness. 4 stars for this one, very nice art work, remind me at first glance of Nektar - Recycled.
Report this review (#1005092)
Posted Thursday, July 25, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars FANTASIA were a band from Pietarsaari, a small town in the West coast of Finland. Their origins were in St. Marcus Blues Band, formed in 1967. When they changed their style towards progressive rock in 1973, the new name was invented from the Amazing Blondel album Fantasia Lindum. Only vocalist- guitarist Hannu Lindblom and drummer Karl-Erik Rönngård remained from the original line-up, as there were disagreements about the musical direction. The new line-up took part in the national rock contest in 1974 and won the first prize. But in practice they were too late in the game to reach more permanent succes, as the Finnish progressive rock movement was losing popularity. The record company didn't give them a chance to make another album after the eponymous debut which sold 2000 copies. This was all too common story...

On to the music. At the time they were compared to WIGWAM, and that comparison still seems very valid. The cleanly produced sound resembles quite a lot the new "deep pop" era Wigwam (Nuclear Nightclub came out the same year). Keyboards favour Moog, string synth and electric piano, and the electric guitar is not far from the style of the new Wigwam member Rekku Rechardt. Also TABULA RASA were mentioned in the reviews. If Fantasia had a flute too, the resemblance would be obvious.

The songwriting differs more from those contemporaries than the sound. This album is more emphasized on airy instrumentalism. The majority of the tracks are instrumentals. Luckily so, as the vocals are rather mediocre. Mellotron Storm's review underlines the beautiful melancholy. Yes, there is that, and combined with an airy and jazzy elegance it produces music which is easy to enjoy. I don't care to go to the track by track approach as all tracks are fairly good and the album flows nicely in a way it becomes unnecessary to stay on the map all the time. I really love the Fusion elements in this relatively peaceful album. The closing instrumental 'Depressio' is excellent.

This isn't necessarily one of the very finest Finnish prog albums, but definitely too unnoticed here.

Report this review (#1237578)
Posted Thursday, August 7, 2014 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Finnish act Fantasia came out of the ashes of the Blues Rock band St. Marcus Bluesband in 1973, at a time when the members were experimenting with multiple music forms.They were Hannu Lindblom on vocals/guitar, Jukka Halttunen on guitar, Markku Lonngren on bass, Paavo Osola on keyboards and Karl-Erik Ronngard on drums, but soon Lindblom and Ronngard were left alone due to direction conflicts.They were joined by Harri Piha on bass and Roul Helantie on keyboards/guitar/violin and in 1974 they won the first prize at Finnish Rock Championship contest.This led to their signing by Hi-Hat, a company fighting Love Records for the best prog label in the country.With the help of Mikael Wiik on guitar and Pekka Poyry from Tasavallan Presidentti on sax they recorded their self-titled debut at Finnlevy's Studio in Helsinki, produced by Wigwam's drummer Ronnie Oesterberg and Mikael Wiik.The album came out late in 1975.

''Fantasia'' draw influences from the jazzy sound of WIGWAM, no doubt about it, but it was more in the vein of Classic Prog in terms of structures.It's actually a soft, jazzy Prog Rock album with detailed arrangements and multiple sources of inspirations with the jazzy elements dominating the music, but there is also space for psychedelic textures. Fusion parts and even some light symphonic keys in the process.The varied influences led to a deep instrumental background, which included organ, sax, synthesizers and electric piano, eventually creating music with lots of variations and diverse moods.Mostly instrumental, this one explores the more mellow side of Progressive Rock with an impressive rhythm section, swirling around jazzy patterns and more groovy, psychedelic beats, surrounded by the careful guitar plays of Hannu Lindblom, somewhere between PEKKA RECHARDT and JAN AKKERMAN, and the beautiful keyboard moves of Roul Helantie, characterized by atmospheric synths, soft organ washes, jazzy electric piano and more Fusion and intricate flashes.The atmosphere is pretty dreamy, getting even more ethereal with the use of sax and violin in a couple of tracks, and the arrangements are always nice and flawless, albeit less energetic than expected.

The album sold about 2000 copies, which were not the anticipated number by the Hi-Hat management.Thus Fantasia never made it to a second album.They still toured in Soviet Union in 1976, but changes in styles and line-ups led to incosistent musical results and they broke up in 1979, giving birth again to St. Marcus Bluesband and its more solid and accesible bluesy sound.

Cool jazzy Progressive Rock with interesting arrangements.Elements of Fusion and Psych Rock are all over the place for a fine discovery from 70's Finland.Warmly recommended.

Report this review (#1290355)
Posted Sunday, October 12, 2014 | Review Permalink

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