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Pekka Pohjola - Flight Of The Angel CD (album) cover


Pekka Pohjola

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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5 stars By this point of his career Pohjola has changed his approach to compositions and arrangements. His last few albums have increasingly displayed gloomy, darker and melancholic moods that I didn't find very uplifting when compared with earlier works. Then again, the odd, lively tune with screeching guitars would emerge unexpectedly here and there.

On "Flight of the Angel" he seems to excel yet again, quite successfully combining markedly different moods on the same all instrumental album. A quirky, jumping starting track soon turns into a serious workout followed by the beautiful, haunting melody of the title track. "Il Carillion" provides an interesting bridge to "Pressure". True to its title this throbbing, pulsating piece is soon turning into spirited playing laced with mega heavy and furious guitars that - surprisingly - don't come across as anything to do with Metal at all. "Beauty and the Beast" starts with dramatic sounds that would serve as an appropriate backdrop to a modern ballet of such title. Again, this tune also culminates with dynamic, but somewhat more structured playing.

Excellent compositions with a good balance and professional delivery represents Pohjola's last truly great album. Highly recommended.

Report this review (#1197549)
Posted Tuesday, June 24, 2014 | Review Permalink
4 stars Flight of the Angel ended PEKKA POHJOLA's most productive era that had started in the seventies; his next album would be Symphony No. 1 (1990), an attempt to be a serious art music composer. Haven't listened to it, but I have heard quite unfavourable criticism from experts. Elements from the classical music have naturally always been present in his unique Fusion, also in this album that features some strings too (though not very notably). As a side note, my friend had a conversation with Verneri Pohjola (jazz trumpetist-composer) and asked about his favourites of his father's discography. If I remember correctly, this was the other of the two that Verneri named.

'How About Today?' is a tight, rollicking, up-tempo composition, very rock oriented in sound; Seppo Tyni's electric guitar is in the centre. I wouldn't place this one high in Pekka's scale, or in fact, in the scale of Jazz-Rock / Fusion in genera, newcomers included. The title track is a delicate and more thoughtful piece as its name would suggest. It's built on a simple melody (not unusual in his composing style) but the way the music grows grander before returning to gentler touch is really fine. One could think there's not enough substance for 6 ˝ minutes, but there is. 'Il Carillon' is a solo piano composition (played by the respected pianist Liisa Pohjola from the same big musical family). It seems to have some Sibelius influence and Debussy-like impressionism. I believe it would be considered very convincing by the art music critics too.

'Pressure' is very easily recognized as a typical Pekka Pohjola composition with the heavily repeated leitmotif and its stretching to the limit. It may be a matter of taste are there enough ideas for 10 ˝ minutes or not. Well, he's done similar things more succesfully too. The synths are central in the sound. The progressivity comes mostly as dynamic changes, not in the melodies. But the best is saved for last: 'Beauty and the Beast' (10:54) is a highly progressive track full of rich details; the arrangement is very many-sided, from the funkiness of brass to the exciting synth patterns and the strings in the final section.And above all is the gorgeous bass playing! This is the masterpiece that justifies the four-star rating, even if the album as a whole is more uneven than most of his earlier works.

The 2002 CD edition includes also a brief summary of Pekka Pohjola's career up to that point.

Report this review (#1213387)
Posted Monday, July 14, 2014 | Review Permalink

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