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Aalto Ikaro album cover
3.96 | 10 ratings | 3 reviews | 20% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 2014

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Ikaro (8:12)
2. Vapahtaja (07:29)
3. Heijastumia (5:18)
4. Kastepisaroita I (4:15)
5. Kastepisaroita II (5:22)
6. Sateentuoksuisia unia (4:54)
7. Hetsätaloushöömei (6:26)
8. Kuun tytär (10:39)

Total Time 52:41

Line-up / Musicians

- Marko Niittymäki / mandolin, banjo, percussion, mandola, guitar, vocals
- Petra Poutanen / vocals, kantele
- Antero Mentu / guitar, sitar, tambura, vocals
- Sampo Salonen / vocals, didgeridoo, doshpulur, percussion
- Panu Ukkonen / clarinet, vocals
- Kusti Rintala / drums, percussion

Releases information

Uulu Records UULU0009

Thanks to Eetu Pellonpää for the addition
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AALTO Ikaro ratings distribution

(10 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(20%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(50%)
Good, but non-essential (10%)
Collectors/fans only (20%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

AALTO Ikaro reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Matti
4 stars The ethno-oriented group AALTO from Tampere, Finland, has released their second album. Let's start by listing the instruments, because in this case it is very revealing: Marko Niittymäki plays mandolin, banjo, percussion, mandola and guitars, the only female member Petra Poutanen plays kantele, Antero Mentu plays guitar, sitar and tambura, Sampo Salonen didgeridoo, doshpulur and percussion, Panu Ukkonen clarinet, and finally Kusti Rintala plays drums and percussion.

All except Rintala also use their vocals. In some cases it's Tuvan throat singing! All in all Aalto's music has not much emphasis on vocals, in the traditional song sense. The band themselves speak of tying together ethnic music and prog-psychedelia. Some of the members have studied ethnomusicology and the influences from e.g. Tuva and Northern India are strong. However they wish to point out that "it's not self-poignant exotism but making beautiful and personal music with an unusually wide range of influences". I may not be the biggest fan of ethnic music and have never been, but I do sense that they make their music sincerely and with a real passion to what they do. That's very valuable indeed, and if the listener is open-minded enough, the music feels good.

I like the many, seldom heard colours in the sound. For example 'Kastepisaroita II' has a nice bright kantele playing among other ethnic intsruments, and the track builds up a hypnotic atmosphere in its repetitiveness. Petra's Finnish-language vocals on tracks such as 'Vapahtaja' and 'Sateentuoksuisia unia' (= "Rain-Odoured Dreams") adds the accessibility, and the lyrics seem to be full of poetic nature themes. Also her voice is beautiful. The title of the closing track (written by Antero Mentu who is the most productive composer in the group) means "The Daughter of Moon". It's ten minutes of calm and atmospheric beauty. The flowing clarinet brings even some jazzy flavour into it.

Of course this music is not necessarily "excellent addition to any prog rock music collection", being so far from rock in the first place, but in its own field it is very well made and pure music easy to surrender to. Hence four stars!

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Prog Folk coming out of Finland. The blending of what sounds like Arabian and Indian instruments with the gut-stringed instruments and shamanic voices native to Finland, plus Didgeridoo, banjo, a kind of zither/autoharp, reed instruments, and "Tibetan" or "Tuvan" (or Sami? or some other Siberian tribe's) vocal overtone singing make this more of a blending of ancient and sacred intercontinental indigenous traditions. Coming from North America, I am biased in that I think I am hearing First American rhythms and vocals, too--especially songs like the album's opener, "Ikaro" (8:12) (8/10). The second song, "Vapathaja" (7:30) (9/10) presents with a jazzy Eastern European/klezmer sound. Sultry female lead vocalist, Petra Poutanen, the delicate acoustic stringed instruments, along with the virtuosic clarinet performance give it a bit more of an international flavor. Sitar-, doshpuluur- and mandolin- dominated "Heijestumia" (5:19) (9/10) has quite a fun minstrel/troubadour feel to it, though is quite Indian-sounding. The "Tuvan" throat singing adds a mystical quality to the song's feel. 4. "Kastepiesaroita" (4:16) and 5. "Kastepiesaroita II" (5:23) present as an ethereal pair of Eastern-spiced meditative songs. The first is dominated by an effluent, hypnotic female voice singing as if trying to lull the listener into a trance or some receptive state. Part II continues the hypnosis using only instruments. (8/10) "Sateentuoksuisia Unia" (4:55) is for me one of the albums high points. Beautiful melodies, almost a Cassandra Wilson feel to the banjo, baritone guitar, didgeridoo and hand drum foundation with some great vocals, lead and harmonies, throughout. (10/10)

7. "Metsätaloushöömei" (6:26) has quite a shamanic story-telling sound to it as male vocalist alternates between throat singing and pleasant tenor folk singing. The 'shout chorus' and female 'yodeling' take the song into even stranger territory. Ends like a front porch bluegrass jam straight out of the Ozarks! Not a song for the faint of heart! I like it! (8/10) The album's closer--and its longest song at 10:39--"Kuun Tytär" is its best. Opening with didgeridoo, subtle background strings sounds and harmonics all playing over the syncopated rhythms of a hand drum. At 1:28 a clarinet enters, claiming the melodic lead with repetition of its simple ascending note sequence. At 2:10 the etheric, delicate voice of Petra Poutanen again graces us with its present. I wish I could find the translation to the Finnish lyrics here because they must tell quite a powerful little story. The song is mesmerizingly beautiful and haunting in a very MEDIÆVAL BÆBES kind of way. (10/10)

Overall this is an interesting album of unusual and often beautiful, hypnotic, and joyful songs. I can't remember the last time I've ever come across such an eclectic blend of world instruments into the songs represented here. But it works! I have been listening to this album over and over for several weeks now and each listen only seems to deepen my immersion and enjoyment of them. I'm not sure this is a "masterpiece of progressive Folk music" but it is definitely worth checking out. If you're looking for something different, something out of the ordinary and entertaining, I would highly recommend that you check this one out.

Review by Windhawk
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Finnish band AALTO was founded in 2007, and following an initial demo release in 2008 they made their debut with "Tuulilabyrintit" in 2012. "Ikaro" is their second full-length production, and was released through the Finnish label Uulu Records in 2014.

Elegant, sophisticated, dark and mystical progressive folk music with a touch of jazz, thrown in for good measure, pretty much sums up the material Aalto explored on their second studio album "Ikaro". And while the album isn't quite perfect overall, there are plenty of blissful moments of pure magic at hand here, in a world music and ethnic Asian inspired music kind of way. Those fond of mystical atmospheres explored within a world music context should take note of this production straight away, especially if they are fond of excursions of this kind that also incorporate a few jazz-oriented details here and there.

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