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Utopianisti Utopianisti II album cover
3.99 | 26 ratings | 4 reviews | 35% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
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Studio Album, released in 2013

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Mekonium Fist (3:51)
2. The Vultures Were Hungry (2:56)
3. Pohjola (8:09)
4. Tango Succubus, Pt. 2 (5:10)
5. The Forest of the Bald Witch (6:47)
6. Bisphenol A (4:12)
7. Kynttiloitakin Vain Yksi (6:16)
8. Spanking Time (6:02)
9. The Sundays of Love and Peace (5:14)
10. Mechanoid Makeout Music (4:54)
11. Too Many Eyeholes (4:07)
12. Derelicts in Space (11:35)
13. U.L.J.C. (The Unnecessary Leftover Jam Compilation) (bonus track) (9:38)

Total Time 78:51

Line-up / Musicians

- Markus Pajakkala / drums & percussion, soprano, tenor & baritone saxophones, flute & alto flute, bass clarinet, Mellotron, various ethnic instruments, programming, additional keyboards, vibraphone

- Jaan Wessman / electric bass (1,3,5,6,8)
- Ville Rauhala / upright bass (4,7,8-13)
- Mika Tyyskä aka Mr. Fastfinger / guitar (1)
- Antero Mentu / guitar, sitar (3,5,6,8,13)
- Anssi Salminen / guitar (7,8,13)
- Juha Savela / guitar (4)
- Kalle Elkomaa / organ, electric piano (1,3,5)
- Tuomas Marttila / marimba, vibraphone, congas (3,4,6)
- Harri Kuusijärvi / accordion (4,7)
- Tero Syväluoma / fiddle (7)
- Waltteri Torikka / vocals (2,4)
- Suvi Väyrynen / vocals (2)
- Pharaoh Pirttikangas / vocals (8)
- Tommi Kolunen / trumpet (1,3,6,8)
- Olli "Trumpetnator" Helin / trumpet (1,3,6,8)
- Jussi Toivonen / trumpet (1,3,6,8)
- Antti Hirvonen / trombone (1,3,6,8)
- Petri Juutilainen / trombone (1,3,6,8)
- Ulla Ahonen / trombone (1,3,6,8)
- Aulis Pöyhönen / bass trombone (1,3,6,8)
- Kasper Haikonen / alto saxophone (1,3,6,8)
- Masa Orpana / alto saxophone (1,3,6,8)
- Petri Nieminen / tenor saxophone (1,3,6,8)
- Maiju Virtanen / tenor saxophone (1,3,6,8)
- Sami Sippola / tenor saxophone (9-13)
- Simo Laihonen / drums (9-13)
- Jon Ballantyne / electric & grand piano (9-13)

Releases information

November 5, 2013

Thanks to mbzr48 for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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UTOPIANISTI Utopianisti II ratings distribution

(26 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(35%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(38%)
Good, but non-essential (19%)
Collectors/fans only (4%)
Poor. Only for completionists (4%)

UTOPIANISTI Utopianisti II reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Eetu Pellonpaa
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Utopianisti's second artifact for the music markets resonates vibrantly, featuring a vast concentration of other local musicians, reaching nearly strength of thirty talented players (!). With the vivid bombast of the record´s personal style, having elements from jazz fusion, prog rock standards, folk music leanings of different cultures, avant-gardist solutions and even some heavy metal licks, I believe the owl, rabbit and fox presented on the cover could blow out the Musicians of Bremen to some other fable. Frank Zappa has been mentioned as a source of inspiration for the album: an artist certainly being an idol for Mr. Pajakkala, as there was even a song credited for his honor on Utopianisti's debut album. However this fascination has not been a motive to mimic the style of Frank, but to create something own with similar courage and intelligence as the mentioned innovator.

The album seems to be segmented in three phases, starting with Pajakkala's solo own compositions. Begin is rough; A song inspired by messy diaper change oppresses the listener immediately with trumpeting stampede, associating for me due their tonal resemblances to Stabath Akish's rampage, and having hints of Kauhukakara's cavalcade of different animal forms expressed through logical sonic idioms. Some heavier guitar driven sequences blend in pleasantly to the horn dominated starting motives, and turn the feeling from cinemascopic feelings towards new territories. The second track brought me some memories of Höyry-Kone's mixture of sung classical music and heavy prog or Zappa's vocal classical sequences from the film "200 Motels". This song also features two uprising operatic singers, soprano Suvi Väyrynen and baritone Waltteri Torikka. The third song "Pohjola" ("Northern Land") is a mournful and beautiful lamentation for the late Pekka Pohjola. "Tango Succubus pt.2" reminds then again the more disorderly second composition of the record, but the fifth track "The Forest of The Bald Witch" rose for me as one of the highlights of the album, having some Jethro Tull reminding motives, fine guitar solo explorations and Mellotron carpets decorating the black woods of the hair-lost conjurer. The organic sounds and compositional varieties are first countered with the electronic minimalism of "Bisphenol A", which later succeeds to annihilate the presumptions from the song by discarding the electronic pulsing with a electric guitar power and weird tricks from the arrangement level. "Kynttilöitäkin on vain yksi" rejoices in acoustical, almost klezmer oriented moods, and the final track on this first phase of the album sums up the heavy metal jazzcore fusion adventures, and passes the microphone to Finland's own Captain Beefheart, Mr. Pharaoh Pirttikangas.

The second phase of the record locates at the JJ Studio in Tampere, being recorded with group Black Motor and pianist Jon Ballantyne. Possibly the setup forced the studio session master Pajakkala on direr proposition with levels of dominance and risk-taking impulsiveness on the takes captured with live playing method. This area oscillates with more relaxed feelings and the already familiar aggressive gonzo-attacks than the carefully recorded studio takes; "The Sundays of Love and Peace", "Too Many Eyeholes" and "Derelicts of Space" linger on the bar stand with serene jazzy lounging, only "Mechanoid Makeout Music" blends more the avant elements familiar from the record's first phase. I would recommend the featured group Black Motor to anybody interested in fine free jazz, the group has reached very convincing merits at Finland through several releases, collaborative projects and awards.

The third phase of this trip is a long improvisation mash-up, featuring some interesting raga-rock contemplations from Mr. Mentu known also from the local group Aalto. Ca. ten minutes long afterquake sums up the two first phases of this album, and leave an appetite for later listens. Personally the softer pieces from the middle of the record were first easier to digest, but having history of rejoicing capabilities of late Mr. Zappa's chaotic productions, the more vivid rootin' tootins' opened up after some listening.

So according my own judgment, this CD is a warm-hearted and personal recording from talented musicians, meeting certainly the standards of global interest from direct local activity and presence is on the edge of your current awareness. Also the goal of the composer of doing music by avoiding some conventional rules of music and thus reaching new angles to sonic arts is in my opinion reached. What matters more to me is a hope of honesty on art creation process, a spiritual factor I believe shimmering from this album. During year 2014 there should be also a line-up formed from this collective ready to perform on concert venues, and it would be delightful to see them doing their thing on a stage.

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Another submission of quirky avant music that people are allowing to be included into the "progressive rock" genre with similarities to Pingvorinkestern, Humble Grumble, UneXpect, Atomic Ape, Major Parkinson, Knifeworld, and even the modern Univers Zero--though Utopianisti is much more closely aligned to true jazz, if of the avant-garde stylings. All these groups are very talented, very tight, and very entertaining. But, gone are the smooth, slow developing songs--especially the long-playing "epics." Now seems to be the new era of staccato, stop and start, avant-garde and theatric production. It's as if today's bands are trying to pack nine minutes of music, story, and emotion into four minute songs. Is this the new prog?

My favorite songs include: "Pohjola" (8:09); "Bisphenol A" (4:11); "The Sundays of Love and Peace" (5:14);"Kynttiloitakin Vain Yksi" (6:16), and my favorite; "U.L.J.C. The Unnecessary Leftover Jam Compilation" (9:38).

A masterpiece of modern avant-jazz composition and performance. Upbeat, quirky, and unusual. However, this is just not my favorite kind of music.

3.5 stars rated up for quality.

Review by Matti
4 stars (My apologies that a whole year passed before I finally reviewed this album.) UTOPIANISTI is the artist name of Finnish multi-instrumentalist and composer Markus Pajakkala. He plays primarily drums and reeds, plus additional keyboards, vibes, programming and "various ethnic instruments". The debut (2011) made it very clear that music can be simultaneously funny and technically impressive; that it feels good for the musician to follow creative madness wherever it leads and to give 110 % commitment to it all. Naturally the listener is free to think that the results are sometimes rather irritating, but the sheer joy of music cannot be denied. This nearly 79-minute second album is even more ambitious, fuller of ideas and containing bigger arrangements. And with a charming hand-drawn cover art!

The tracks 1-8 are the album's main body "which took a year to carefully form and craft itself", and in contrast to that, the next four pieces under the moniker UTOPIANISTI MEETS BLACK MOTOR & JON BALLANTYNE were composed in a day and recorded live at JJ Studio, Tampere, August 2nd, 2012. And as a "bonus track" there's nearly 10-minute, breathtaking 'U.L.J.C. (The Unnecessary Leftover Jam Session)' which definitely sounds better than its title. But let's return to the start, to the main tracks each with a different line-up of guest musicians.

'Mekonium Fist' (according to the foreword "inspired by our first diaper change where four hands weren't enough") is hectic and fast. 'The Vultures Were Hungry' mixes opera vocals with ZAPPA- like avant-rock. 'Pohjola' is probably the best track, a gorgeous Fusion piece in the spirit of PEKKA POHJOLA to whom it is dedicated. It stays more serious than the album as a whole, without losing freshness and certain musical joy. 'Tango Succubus pt. 2' is sung in Finnish by opera baritone(?) Waltteri Torikka. This very angular piece featuring also an accordion reminds a lot of the 90's cult band HÖYRY-KONE.

On the meaty jazz-rock number 'The Forest of the Bald Witch' there are delicious contributions for e.g. flute, organ and guitar. Like three other tracks, 'Bisphenol A' features The Utopianisti Big Band, and has an emphasis on heavy brass and programming. It is my least favourite, as well as the 7th one, a hilarious, ethnically oriented (Balkanesque) tune featuring accordion and fiddle among others. ALAMAAILMAN VASARAT, the instrumental descendant of Höyry-Kone, did enough of this kind of silly crap (sorry).

If there had been only these eight tracks, I wouldn't much like this album with so many annoying things in it. The live tracks featuring Jon Ballantyne on piano and electric piano are airier, jazzier and more thoughtful, in other words quite free of the silliness. With a suitable use of skip button you'll have a wonderful musical trip with this extraordinarily brave release. My subjective rating would be three stars, but for the masterful musicianship and some amazing highlights it deserves four.

Review by siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
4 stars UTOPIANISTI II picks up where the eponymous debut left off only this time main man / band leader Markus Pajakkala got even more ambitious with his number of guest musicians and there are no less than 31, yes! 31(!!!) different vocalists and instrumentalists including an entire big band section and opera singers. The album is completely a studio album and many of the musicians had never even met, so UTOPIANISTI II was truly the studio project of Pajakkala taking his project that he began as a student at Helskinki's Sibelius Academy to the next level. And what a big fat sound this one has! Pajakkala himself plays drums, percussion, tenor and baritone saxophones, flute and alto flute, bass clarinet, mellotron, various ethnic instruments, keys and vibraphone. The rest of the band includes 2 bassists, 4 guitarists, an additional organist, tons of vocals and others who play sitar, marimba, vibraphone, congras, accordion, fiddle, trumpet, trombone and extra saxophones! Whew! No they don't play everything at once! The music is designed for a rotating cast of musicians to play their parts at select times but this is indeed a big band style of jazz-rock fusion so it indeed has a big, fat, beefy sound. Once again the jazz-rock basis is mostly based in easily accessible swing style where groovy, funky rhythms are easily digestible and the avant-garde comes in with the other instruments interacting. Although strange time signatures and other-worldly segments aren't totally eschewed, this type of sound rests squarely in hooking you and taking you for a ride.

Right from the beginning with "Mekonium Fist" it's apparent that this album is a huge step up from the first with not only more palatable grooves and rhythms but by the sheer force of the musicians on board. The beat is strong and so is the brass. This first track comes off as some 90s swing revival on steroids only has a heavy rock guitar added to the mix with a sizzling guitar solo that could rightfully grace any particular heavy metal sound. The second track "The Vultures Were Hungry" plays a rather Diablo Swing Orchestra move and adds a group of opera singers to the big band swing section only they up DSO and have not only female divas but a male baritone as well! The tracks are quite varied and laid out quite well so the listener remains thoroughly entertained. Next up is the tender starting "Pohjola" which is obviously a tribute to the great Pekka Pohjola in not only the title but in jazz-fusionist compositional style taking the music back to the 70s complete with appropriate organ runs and the proper zeitgeist touches. The next track "Tango Succubus Pt 2" changes things up totally and as you can probably guess is a tango only with a male opera singer and vibraphones joined by the brass section. And such is the entire album, chock full of hitherto unthinkable possible fusion where the world is a grocery store and UTOPIANISTI II is the shopping cart where all of the genres and styles play together awaiting check out.

While UTOPIANISTI II is a major step up from the less ambitious debut, this one suffers from being bloated with way too much of a good thing with a whopping time length of near 79 minutes of jazz-fusion doing a dance with almost every type of musical genre imaginable. Inevitably unless done to perfection an album this long loses steam at times. For example, certain tracks like the traditional Finnish folk track "Kynttilöitäkin Vain Yksi" sound out of place and frankly unnecessary as do some of the lesser tracks that fail to have strong hooks. Not to mention that some of the tracks just don't gel so well next to each other. Despite the album not being perfect however Pajakkala paints the picture of what jazz-fusion dreams are made of. Great care is paid to the details with a crystal clear production and so much creative prowess lurks around every corner that it becomes dizzifying. Not only are there references to the jazz-fusion and swing greats of the past but surprises such as the Captain Beefheart inspired segments on "Spanking Time." There are plenty of tributes to jazz greats themselves with John Coltrane being heavily represented as well. Some tracks like "Mechanoid Makeout Music" show not only a Canterbury type of whimsy but the music itself is quite unorthodox with a jittery almost Latin-jazz rhythmic type of freneticism with an Ornette Coleman type of free-jazz sax attack. "U.L.J.C. (The Unnecesssary Leftover Jam Compilation)" that ends the album is quite fun as is this album for the most part. While UTOPIANISTI II isn't perfect by any means but there is more than enough strong material on this one to entice any enthusiastic jazz-fusion freak out there and while not as well polished as the followup "The Third Frontier," UTOPIANISTI II is an extremely strong set of eclectic numbers just waiting to blow your mind.

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