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Tasavallan Presidentti - Milky Way Moses CD (album) cover


Tasavallan Presidentti

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This Finnish prog/fusion/jazz band can make complex and loaded patterns here! Indeed there are some bits where the drums and bass combination can easily be compared to the peak moments of Frank ZAPPA and BRAND X. The music itself sounds a bit like Canterbury bands (CARAVAN), at least the keyboards and guitars. Only 3 weak points: the guitar sound is very gross and bland, despite the guy gives elaborated wah wah effects; the lead vocals are very ordinary; the compositions, apart the outstanding technical performance, does not seem to retain the attention. There are many saxes and flute parts which give a jazzy tendency to the ensemble. The bass is never timid, it is the main attraction here: it is some sort of mini GRAND FUNK or Il VOLO bass.
Report this review (#27718)
Posted Sunday, August 15, 2004 | Review Permalink
Eetu Pellonpaa
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The last 1970's studio album done by the fabulous Finnish jazz rock band offers a bit more psychedelic and culminated grooves than their three previous albums. The peaceful pastoral elements of their personally most favored album "Lambertland" have dissolved, and I can understand why some fans of this band do not appreciate this record. There has been a two year's gap between their previous studio album, and the bassist player has been changed. Heikki Virtanen (Jukka Tolonen's cousin I recall?) has replaced Måns, and Tolonen and Pöyry also do some keyboard playing. Possibly these changes of personnel and time has affected the music, pushing it towards more spontaneous jazz solutions and acceptance of striking harmonies. The opening title track "Milky Way Moses" has catchy grooves and good melodic passages, representing the most accessible side of this record. The following track runs over ten minutes, "Caught from The Air" has hypnotic, pulsing tones, and some wah-wah treaded bass lines creating powerful psychedelic feelings. If one is interested of this stuff, I would recommend hunting down the 4CD box "Anna Mulle Lovee", which has some archive material of different Finnish bands. There's a cool live version of this song titled "Lennosta Kii!", revealing original Finnish lyrics of this Eero Koivistoinen composition. That song was originally on Mr. Koivistoinen's "Valtakunta" album from year 1968, on which I think Eero Raittinen was also featured as a singer. In addition of the two shorter tracks I would mention song "Confusing the Issue", which resembles the title track by its acoustic rhythm guitars, saxes and bold singing of Mr. Raittinen. His voice does not feel as pleasant as Frank Robson's tone to my ears, but he's a good singer though and knows "How to start a Day" after paranormal nights.
Report this review (#78443)
Posted Wednesday, May 17, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars This was my first album from Tasavallan Presidentti. I have all of their releases now, but this is still my favorite. It is a classic! I love it. It has such a great jazzy, prog feel to it, especially the longer songs. I love the groove that permeates "Caught From the Air" and "How to Start a Day." Wonderful instrumental work from everybody, although the vocals my take some getting used to. If you like Wigwam or Pekka Pohjola, then this is an essential one to get.
Report this review (#82978)
Posted Thursday, July 6, 2006 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
3 stars Last album from this second-most successful Finnish prog band after Wigwam, Milky Way Moses is more or less well in the line of its predecessors, but like everyone of them , has its own characteristics. Indeed, a further line-up change sees original bassist & organist Groundstroem leave (for crosstown buddies Wigwam) and be replaced by Heikki Virtanen, and leaving guitarist Tolonen and saxman Poyry to play keyboards. Graced with a bucolic forest artwork, MWM is a rockier and much more straightforward album than its predecessor. Surprisingly enough, Tolonen doesn't control the songwriting as much (Poyry does) and the lyrics were delegated to their crosstown rivals Wigwam's singer Jim Pembroke.

Opening on the up-beat title track, the musical mood is a hard-rocking one, where Raittinen's vocals are much more at ease (read don't shock or raise eyebrows) than on the previous Lambertland album. The following Caught In The Air track is penned by jazzman Koivistonnen (who released a few good JR/F albums during that era), and it is the MWM track that is most reminiscent of the LL album, because jazzier, but a tad repetitive. The album-shortest collectively-penned Jelly is a 100 MPH hard-jazz-rock track that will knock your socks off, despite being complex.

The flipside opens on the little-more-than-average rockier Confusing The Issue, but follows with the slow-starting electric piano driven almost 14-mins How To Start A Day, which slowly crescendos, but forgets to go places. As for the closing mid-paced Piece Of Mind, it opens on guitar arpeggios and a pedestrian bass, it's not exactly going out with a "bang".

I'm not exactly on how or why the band stopped, but the present ended up being their last, but guitarist Jukka Tolonen would carry on with his solo career (started during the TP tenure) Not nearly as successful as its predecessor, MWM might have a better chance to please the rockier progheads, but IMHO, I even prefer their still clumsy debut to this largely less-inspired but still worthy album.

Report this review (#658692)
Posted Wednesday, March 14, 2012 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Ever ponder on some mysterious album that somehow, for no apparent reason, becomes a mythical icon and you don't even know why? That is how I feel by Tasavallan Presidentti's Milky Way Moses, an LP I bought back in 1974 or so, initially enamored by the lovely cover art of bright green and sharp yellow trees and finally enthralled by the cool jazzy prog within the grooves. I finally nailed a CD copy and was immediately plunged into a drenching pool of self-inflicted nostalgia that has me beaming. This album remains my favorite Finish prog recording (though the recent Moonwagon albums come awfully close). Jukka Tolonen needs no introduction, a legendary guitarist closely associated in my mind with vintage Jan Akkerman, where robust jazzy chords and slick leads conspire to woo the casual listener and convert them permanently. Together with bassist Heikki Virtanen, sax/flute master Pekka Pöyry and drum king Vesa Aaltonen, Tolonen provides a shimmering glide for singer Eero Raittinen to show off his vocal skills. A nice mix of short and long tracks makes for a delightful menu.

There is little pussyfooting here as title track takes off from the get-go, a flick of the wrist envelops the axe strings with confident technique allied with intense feeling and you just know this will be fun. Breezy, airy jazz- rock, a cool urban vibe where blaring saxophones, tingling piano and that dogged riff keep it all hanging tight. Eero vocalizes nicely in a semi-trembling yelp that is actually quite striking. The stage is set for some soloing, well anchored by the rhythm tandem. Jukka then takes the spotlight and delivers a wah-wah duet with Pekka's squeaky sax, a true masterpiece moment where both maul each other with clever mini blasts, a delirious little musical game. Another vocal refrain which veers into a heavier raging funk and the deed is done. Excellent!

The stunning 11 minute+ epic "Caught from the Air" is another highlight moment, a thrilling musical escapade that swerves in a myriad of directions. Feline guitar and fluttering piano combine to create a jazz tornado that ultimately permits Pekka to go bananas on his sax, in a very overt Didier Malherbe style. Midway through, the groove goes from very relaxed, almost like instrumental Stealy Dan, to more hysterical, notes blasted at a furious pace and decidedly jazz where screeching organ, pounding piano, irate sax and mad guitar rule the waves. The vocals return to that familiar exuberance and the whole just glides along with zest to an effortless finale.

On "Jelly", Virtanen and Aaltonen propel the jiggly jello-jazz with syncopated mayhem, a delightful turbo- powered lightning bolt that knows no respite just finality. Disjointed yet controlled, the manic 3 minute + piece shows off the talents of all involved. The Focus parallel is evident in both the guitar and the turbulent drumming.

A true 70s vibe appears on "Confusing the Issue" which incorporates some odd stylistics, a Planet Gong cabaret meets Frank Zappa feel, with Eero doing odd things with his voice ("Cucumber Stew"?), not unlike the zealous Canterbury lads. Tolonen rips off an acid-drenched solo, making anyone within earshot to giggle nervously.

The longest sucker is the nearly 14 minute "How to Start a Day", a weird introduction that has some Gong meets the Legendary Pink Dots facets, which then prompts bassist Virtanen to shovel along a clearly defined but relentless groove, flute spiraling above the fray. The subsequent massive jam explosion just creams the jeans! Tight and sublimely crazy! Eero even dares to pull off a cheeky Jim Morrison imitation that will make anyone smile. Hilarious! Fill in that damn sax blare and people will glare. Tubular bells arrive just in time to save the gong, literally!

"Piece of Mind" is led again by that thrilling bass in that classic Howlett/Rowe style, a loopy construction that keeps the imagery flowing. Short sweet and effective.

Like I stated earlier, not the best jazz-rock album, nor is it Tasavallan Presidentti's best but there is something about the pervasive comfort of nostalgia that needs not to be explained and just is. Yes, it sounds dated and perhaps not very relevant but I like it. Always have and forever will. Sax is everything!

4 Starlit prophets

Report this review (#1319654)
Posted Wednesday, December 3, 2014 | Review Permalink
3 stars In 1973 hardly anyone would guess that TP would be history within one year (for two decades). The previous year saw the departure of the original bassist Måns Groundstroem and the arrival of Heikki Virtanen, who happened to be Jukka Tolonen's cousin. The band continued as an internationally respected live act. The fourth album was recorded in London, August-September 1973, and produced by the established Peter Eden. This time the lyrics came from the pen of Jim Pembroke (WIGWAM), and the reeds player Pekka Pöyry - a notable figure in the Finnish jazz scene - stepped more into the light as a composer alongside Jukka Tolonen.

The 8-minute title track is instrumentally oriented, typical slice of TP's jazz-rock, more ballsy than focused or melodic. It seems Eero Raittinen as a vocalist is not at his best on this album. 'Caught in the Air' originates from EERO KOIVISTOINEN's groundbreaking avant/proto-prog album Valtakunta (1968), in which the fancy lyrics of the poet Jarkko Laine were sung by Eero Raittinen. The track is stretched up to 11:37 with wandering instrumental sections; I'd say there's not enough proggy innovations to justify the length of this version that clearly loses to the fantastic, psychedelically coloured original.

'Jelly' is an instrumental group effort, not much more than a jam. Pöyry's two compositions are placed in the end. 'How to Start a Day' is quite interesting especially for the paranoid vocals that approach whispering and muttering. But again, 13:47 is way too long for the thin musical contents. The most economic song 'Piece of Mind' is rather calm; nice, but unspectacular. The album came out in April 1974 when the spark had begun to die out. Tasavallan Presidentti collapsed after the summer's tours, and JUKKA TOLONEN continued his solo career with excellent Fusion albums.

Report this review (#1402805)
Posted Thursday, April 23, 2015 | Review Permalink

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