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Pekka Pohjola - Changing Waters CD (album) cover


Pekka Pohjola

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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3 stars After taking time off from band work to compose a symphony at the turn of the decade, Pekka Pohjola returned to the familiar jazzprog scene with 1992's Changing Waters. Much of his 80s material was plagued by the usual flaws of the decade: plasticish and cheap-sounding keys and drums, but this album is a return to a somewhat more organic sound. The synths are still there and even some electric drums are audible, but they're not on the centre stage, which is very much taken up by a glorious piano, especially on the grandiose opener Benjamin (introduction).

Waltz for Iikka brings forth the familiar playful mood, and Innocent Questions is basically a classical piece with piano, violin and classical guitar. Fanatic Answers sounds exactly like you would imagine compared to the preceding track, with some piercing guitar lines. This is the most 80s sounding piece on the album with heavy pounding lifeless drums, but they are contradicted nicely by calmer, yet tension-building sections with strings and a clarinet. However this piece ends up overstaying its welcome by not changing all that much during its ten minute run, until the very end when the overlapping guitars introduce a nice bit of chaos.

The title track is another handsome piano-based piece, and in fact a reworking of a piece originally found on the Space Waltz album. Waltz for Outi is another playful piece, but it too overstays its welcome pretty badly, with seemingly endless variations of the same theme with different instrumentation. But Benjamin brings the album to a close on a high, the two part track spread in the beginning and end being among Pohjola's masterpieces. The piano melodies are beautifully accompanied by other instruments before the guitar picks it up to new heights with massive drum backing. This guy understands dynamics.

An uneven, but good album. A step up from some of the weakest moments of the previous decade.

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Posted Tuesday, November 23, 2010 | Review Permalink

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