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UTOPIANISTI

Utopianisti

Jazz Rock/Fusion


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Utopianisti Utopianisti album cover
3.69 | 15 ratings | 3 reviews | 20% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 2011

Songs / Tracks Listing


1. Alkusoitto (0:25)
2. Plutonium Fist (4:17)
3. Grain de L'âme (5:33)
4. Avaruuden Shamaanit (4:47)
5. Waltz for FZ (6:13)
6. Castro Brothers (2:14)
7. Kärry (6:54)
8. Markus-Sedän Letkeämpi Klezmer (4:59)
9. Bordeaux (4:22)
10. Hopeinen Kyy (4:08)
11. Sull'on Mies Joka Planeetalla (3:56)
12. Tuonelan Lautturi (4:55)

Total Time 52:43

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians


- Markus Pajakkala / drums, percussion, keyboards, flute,
soprano-, tenor- and baritone saxophones, vocals

...with
- Ville Rauhala / double bass
- Timi-Artturi Mäkelä / bass, synthesizer
- Jukkis Virtanen / bass
- Ville Kyttälä / bass
- Anssi Salminen / guitar
- Tom Gardiner / guitar
- Antero Mentu / guitar, sitar
- J-P Jääskeläinen / xylophone, marimba, vibraphone
- Masa Orpana / clarinet, alto saxophone
- Olli Helin / trumpet
- Juho Viljanen / trombone
- Ilkka Puputti / french horn
- Markus Luomala / accordion
- Tero Hyväluoma / fiddle

String quartet:
- Annica Brännkärr / 1. violin
- Juho Puronaho / 2. violin
- Tero Hyväluoma / viola
- Veera Perkola / cello

Thanks to Evolver for the addition
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UTOPIANISTI Utopianisti ratings distribution


3.69
(15 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(20%)
20%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(53%)
53%
Good, but non-essential (20%)
20%
Collectors/fans only (0%)
0%
Poor. Only for completionists (7%)
7%

UTOPIANISTI Utopianisti reviews


Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by avestin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Finland is a cold place. It's also dark for a lengthy period of time. In fact, that's exactly the kind of place I'd like to live in! With a depressive atmosphere and gloomy music being played by the local bands and musicians. But then you have folks like Markus Pajakkala, who come and ruin the whole thing for you? They play this upbeat and energetic music that makes you want to move your head and feet, music that you can't help but have your senses shaken and your spirit lifted upon listening to it. Damn it, I'm trying to be depressed here! Those young kids and their damned upbeat and excellent music!

Ok, Let me start again. Allow me to ask you a few questions before proceeding: Have you ever wanted to hear a heavy and eclectic Big Band performance? Are you curious as to the possibilities of having a large ensemble of musicians, practically an small orchestra, playing a mix made up of blues, jazz and rock with a little metal-ic leanings as well as some electronic effects added for good measure? Do you like the sort of music from Frank Zappa, Alamaailman Vasarat, Mr. Bungle, miRthkon, Zorn's Dreamers, et al.? Is the notion of an instrumental extravaganza beating your ears constantly, excite you? If you've answered Yes to any of the above, you might want to give Utopianisti a listen!

Markus Pajakkala has assembled a full orchestra around him and recorded a fabulous diverse album. By now you get the idea of what kind of sounds and styles to expect; while you can hear influences or similarities to the afore mentioned groups and musicians, Markus has done a stellar job at bringing his vision to life and creating fresh and uplifting music. Indeed, there is much to rejoice for those who love their music being a mix of various styles, but done effectively and in good measure. Moreover, if you like your music to be engaging, energetic and at fast pace, this would make you happy as well. I particularly liked the more exotic sounding tracks, like Kärry, with fantastic percussion and groovy beat and rhythm. Another magnificent track was Markus-sedän letkeämpi klezmer with it's various styles interjectd within the composition ? this track alone shows the diversity of Markus and his talent at combining various approaches into a wholesome piece. Markus also reaches out for a French flavour in the cool track Bordeaux, with the requisite accordion and the sentimental string instruments. But if you want a more representative piece of the album, try the second aptly named track, Plutonium Fist. As the name suggests, it is a punch to the face with its ferocious and aggressive beat and tune. This radioactive track holds together touches of blues, jazz-rock and a little metal-ish touch. Or you could go for some gypsy and folk inspired powerful pieces like Hopeinen kyy with extraordinary drumming and percussion that underlie demented and superb violin playing. I wrote that this is an instrumental album but there is one sung piece, Sull'on mies joka planeetalla, in which Markus sings and he does so well. A bluesy and hard rock piece, but with the brass instruments playing along, this sounds so much richer than an average blues/rock song. I also need to mention the great guitar solo played in the middle of the song.

It is a dense and heavy album, due to the massive sound of the orchestra and the nature of the music. I felt exhausted after each listen, but then I always wanted more of it immediately after.

I'm so happy to have found an album, so early in 2011, that made me go "Wow!! This is incredible". This is an early contender for the top 2011 albums list. To be played loud!

Review by Matti
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Utopianisti is a Finnish project of multi-instrumentalist Markus Pajakkala; the second album has just been released (I'll review that later). This debut is amazing and I hope that Utopianisti gets the international recognition it deeply deserves. Avestin's review is very good and I fully agree upon its each comment. Indeed this is music that gets your body shake and makes you feel happy, at least if you listen to it in a suitable mood. Very far from being dead serious! The lively, joyful spirit catches the listener too. Pajakkala is rather young chap but what a talent he is! He plays drums and other percussion, several saxes, flute and keyboards (plus sings on one track) and he's responsible of the arrangements that often approach the big band. All the music is composed by him. Since Utopianisti is not a touring band, he has recruited all the guests for the needs of each individual track, just like Robert Wyatt did after his body injury. The old ace Anssi Tikanmäki has co- produced the album.

'Plutonium Fist' (and its half-minute distorted intro 'Alkusoitto') is like a high speed twist with the emphasis on drums and saxophone. 'Grain de l'âme' is one of my favourites, it shows Pajakkala's versatility as composer and arranger, as it features also more delicate parts starring flute and keyboards. 'Avaruuden shamaanit' (The Space Shamans) is a funky tune built on a baritone saxophone phrase. I find it a bit boring in its repetitiveness.

'Waltz for FZ' (meaning Frank Zappa, naturally) is another highlight. A melodic, lively and richly arranged composition mostly in danceable mid-tempo. I hear some Pekka Pohjola influence. J-P Jääskeläinen has a little vibraphone solo, and on the next short track 'Castro Brothers' he gets the lead on marimba and xylophone.

'Kärry' (Carriage) belongs to my least favourites; I'm not very fond of the funk flavour present on many tracks. 'Markus-sedän letkeämpi klezmer' (The More Easy-Going Klezmer of Uncle Markus; by the way Markus-setä was a legendary person who made radio programmes for children many decades ago) is a fast and playful track with many surprises along the way, such as a sitar/flute dialogue. 'Bordeaux' brings some old-fashioned continental elegance, featuring Markus Luomala on accordion.

'Hopeinen kyy' (Silver Viper; a wordplay on 'Hopeinen kuu', a classic Finnish schlager of Italian origin) is again fast, almost frenzy. A wonderful flute part, perhaps a nod to Ian Anderson? 'Sull on mies joka planeetalla' (You Have a Man on Every Planet) is the only vocal-song, let's say it's a hilarious, swinging rock'n'roll retro-schlager. 'Tuonelan lautturi' (The Ferryman of ... well, Tuonela is the land of death in Kalevala) is yet another funky track with the baritone sax taking lead, but it has also a spooky synth.

Time will tell how this music will taste after becoming more familiar. Either one learns to appreciate all its details even more, or the happiness so strongly present on the first listening will lose some of its spark. Anyway, if you're looking for Zappa-influenced upbeat jazz-rock, check this one out immediately!

Review by siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR PSIKE & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
3 stars UTOPIANISTI is the project of Markus Pajakkala emerging from Tampere, Finland where he hunts down the absolute most brilliant musicians from every nook and cranny of the musical world and gives a serious boost to the jazz-rock fusion scene with some of the most addictive creative compositions that i've experienced this decade. Every album is designed for a rotating cast of musicians on each album. While the project only began in 2010, fertile grounds were afoot and the project released it's very first eponymous album the following year. While Pajakkala appears alone on the album cover, this is hardly a one man show but includes a huge cast of no less than 18 musicians covering bass, guitar, sitar, xylophone, marimba, vibraphone, clarinet, alto sax, trumpet, trombone, french horn, accordion, fiddle, violin, viola and cello. However when it comes to writing the music itself, this is Pajakkala's baby and he plays band directer much like the role of Frank Zappa in the day. This album is his early work that emerged as a school project while he was studying music at the Sibelius Academy, a prestigious music school in Helsinki.

Despite being a mere debut, Pajakkala had a firm grip on his vision and worked it out meticulously. While his main instruments are the flute and saxes, on this one he also plays drums, keyboards and contributes vocals as well where they show up. The music is mostly based in jazz-rock fusion but this is really a smorgasbord of genres that incorporate everything from Balkan gypsy, klezmer and heavy rock to heavy doses of experimental touches. Tracks range from the heavy rock oriented "Plutonium First" that has a rather 50s rock 'n' roll feel to it with a heavy brass and rock section making it feel more like a 70s TV adventure show theme to the funky bass chop led "Avaruuden Shammaanit" which sounds like a swing band got a sudden itch to incorporate 60s style funk into the mix although the jazzy time signatures keep it all in the grounds of challenging music despite the instantly addictive grooves. While most tracks are fairly upbeat with heavy percussive and bass driven rhythms accompanied by heavy brass section, a few tracks like "Waltz For FZ" are more laid back without feeling too slow or sappy.

I have to admit that i'm not as keen on this debut since my UTOPIANISTI journey began with perfection of "The Third Frontier." While everything on this debut is extremely professional and well executed, the album as a whole doesn't come off as outstanding as the following releases. While i'm totally impressed that this album was basically a school project brought to fruition via the passionate conduits of quite the number of musicians involved, i don't think the compositions are as well developed and of the caliber that the next couple albums would include. This one has plenty of excellent fusion ideas stirring in the pot but no one has quite turned up the heat enough just yet to fully unify the possibilities that can be heard in the nascent processes. Still though, an impressive debut that paves the way for things to only get better. Personally i'd probably skip this and head straight to the second album modestly titled "UTOPIANISTI II" since most of the ideas presented here are present and perfected later. It should also be stated that this is melodic jazz with syncopation, dissonance and other jazzy characteristics but much more on the accessible side of the fence with groovy, funky rhythms that are designed to be addictive upon first listening. Those seeking a psychedelic detachment from reality should look elsewhere.

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