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Alamaailman Vasarat


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Alamaailman Vasarat Vasaraasia album cover
3.27 | 61 ratings | 14 reviews | 18% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 2000

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Mamelukki & musta leski ~ Mameluc & black widow (2:45)
2. Perikunta ~ Heirs (3:57)
3. Lakeus ~ Open field (3:22)
4. Unikkotango ~ Poppy tango (2:46)
5. Asuntovelka - mortgage (3:05)
6. Kebab tai henki! ~ Your kebab or your life (3:02)
7. Jano ~ Thirst (3:21)
8. Tankkaustunti ~ Drinking happy hour (4:42)
9. Merikäärme ~ Sea serpent (4:09)
10. Häntä hellii käärme ~ Caressed by snake (4:07)
11. Hakumies ~ Grim reaper (7:51)
12. Delhin yöt ~ Delhi nights (3:04)
13. Siltojen alla ~ Under the bridges (5:28)

Total Time: 52:19

Line-up / Musicians

- Jarno Sarkula / Soprano & Tenor saxophone
- Erno Haukkala / trombone
- Miikka Huttunen / pump organ, grand piano, keyboards
- Tuukka Helminen / cellos
- Marko Manninen / cellos
- Teemu Hänninen / drums, percussion

Releases information

CD Laskeuma Records

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
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ALAMAAILMAN VASARAT Vasaraasia ratings distribution

(61 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(18%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(43%)
Good, but non-essential (36%)
Collectors/fans only (3%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

ALAMAAILMAN VASARAT Vasaraasia reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
3 stars 3.5 stars really!!!

This absolutely crazy acoustic band is one of the legacy of the crazed Hoyry Kone . Somehow relatively close to the spirit of the now defunct HK, three members united (though not necessarily as musicians) to make some totally acoustic fusion music not far removed from the Gypsy Jazz music that you would hear from an Emir Kusturica movie (Underground or Time of the Gypsys). A completely acoustic quintet, where the duo brass attack (I know the sax is a wood, but WTH), much of the rhythm comes from Maninen's cello replacing the bass and rhythm guitar (ac or el) and is part of much of the group's original sound, especially in the manner of recording the cello, although they will fine-tune that later on. The frantic drumming is provided by Haninen and often comes to the festive mood that was HK's. Completing the quintet is Huttunen on piano, but also the pump organ, which provides again a weird personality to the group, often between the accordion and the harmonium. Their first album is adequately released on the highly-specialised Swedish label Silence (thinking of Von Zamla etc.) and comes in a superb digipack with an intriguing escalator artwork and in the booklet itself, a wintery and night urban décor that fits the music rather well.

As said above, the musical directions heads out east and southbound, to the eastern European soundscapes of the Gypsy and Jewish traditions, adding a certain rock feeling and energy that would make a rear granddad raise from his grave and dance once more one of those polkas of yesteryears. There is an unreal and slightly grotesque/satirical facet of their music (much as you'd find on most of Zappa's music) that can eventually tire out quickly some progheads, especially those who are more prone to symphonic soundscapes. Personally I prefer AV's slower (and usually longer) tracks, rather to the all-out cosmic-speed playing of the faster (and shorter) polkas. The general AV canvas is alternating between the two types of extremes, with no middle ground.

Some tracks provide a welcome rest between the relatively similar polka to avoid repetition but ultimately, given the full duration of the album, it is relatively ineffective in the long run. Highly atmospheric (even gloomy ala UZ) tracks like Hakumies, an impressive crescendo that transforms into a sort of tango, or the dramatic finale Siltojen Alla, with its almost metallic doom-metal cello alternating with speed-thrash-metal polka played at breakneck speed. My personal favourite track on this album is Tankkaustunti, where Haukkalla's trombone teams up with Maninen's cello to give crunchy riffs and chords (that most metalheads would love to invent acoustically) over an eerie pump organ in the background, the whole thing turning almost in a bolero with its war-like drumming. Lakeus also draws an honourable mention.

But once the surprise gone, in regards to repetitive listenings, the music settles is a sort of monotonous way to become relatively quickly uninteresting (even though it is impeccably played) and really tiresome as the album reaches the last track. The fact that this is totally instrumental does not help as you need to constantly look up to the deck display to see which track is playing. Though the follow-up is better, if you're a glutton for punishment, I'd tell you to start with that one, knowing that this one is much less inventive, therefore you'll save yourself a bit of enjoyment for their marginally better second album.

Review by Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Just like a fellow Prog Collaborator so accurately stated before me, Alamaailman Vasarat's music is heavily rooted in the Eastern European gypsy folk, not unlike their more rock-oriented precursors Höyry-Kone: a fact undisputedly evidenced from the opening track of their debut "Vasaraasia". In fact, the typical exotic drive from gypsy folk is magically enriched by a sense of genius folly which seems to arise not only from the influence of HK, but also Samla Mammas Manna, Slapp Happy, and in general, the most satirical side of RIO. There is also an aggressive facet in AV's music, which is provided mainly by the two cellists. Here and there you may hear what seems to be a series of quasi-punk fuzz guitar riffs, but what is really going on is that the cellists are playing powerful chord progressions on their instruments, previously supplied with bizarre effect tools. The opening track 'Mamelukki & Musta Leski' is a wonderful source of motivation: its beautiful melodic lines and the contagious electricity emanated by the performers, all at once, make it a recommended listen for those minutes after you've just awakened, and still haven't made up your mind to get up our of your comfortable bed. Track 2 keeps the good vibrations working, with a slightly lesser degree of intensity. Even though there is a large amount of fast numbers in "Vasaraasia", there are others that don't feel so uplifting: in fact, there's also room for some languid, dark pieces, at times bordering on the somber - 'Jano'/'Tankkaustunti' and 'Hakumie' are IMHO the most accomplished dark pieces. All things considered, though, the listener is likely to find himself in awe of the frontal candor exhibited in most parts of the album, especially the interplays between sax and trombone and the well articulated complementation of the pump organ chords with the rhythm section. There's tons of electrifying energy condensed here, and yet there's more electronic stuff in the effects than in the instrumental arsenal itself. Well, eventually the circus has to leave town to take its tricks and gags somewhere else, but the circus caravan won't leave quietly: the ultra-fast 'Delhin Yot' seems designed to cause the audience's farewell applauses, while the finale serves as a musical background for the technicians dismantling the stage and quickly picking up all packages into the trucks. Overall mark: 3 ½ - 4 stars.
Review by Eetu Pellonpaa
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars The aggressive and unique blend of avantgarde rock and klezmer folk influences show a huge amount of uniqueness, but what here hits to my ears is the sense of humor following from their predecessor band Höyrykone, which I personally do not like. The greatest innovation here in my opinion is the amplifying of cellos with fuzzbox, making a real killer sound. But this solution would have helped to create a more memorable end result if the basic philosophy of the group would be more solemn and serious. It is very possible, that I characterize more myself by disliking this "crazy" humor present in artistic music than this record, but it does not contain the substances which I seek from arts, and thus this record nor band never grew dear to me.
Review by progmonster
3 stars On the aftermath of Ho’ry-Kone, there was much to expect from the now called "Hell's Hammers". The first striking difference between the two bands is the absence of singer Topi Lehtipuu, but then we should enter on this album for what it has to say, not necessarily for what we want to ear from it. Alamaailman Vasarat gained a strong jazz inclination in opposite of Ho’ry-Kone, but like the latter they seem to have this amazing ability of making things collapse together to create their own grammar. You'll find hints of klezmer music, jazz as said earlier, but also a touch of metal. The contrasts are not so obvious than what they did with their former band but "Vasaraasia" is a promising debut that certainly hooked the attention of Naked City, Creedle and Mr.Bungle's enthusiasts.
Review by Yanns
3 stars Rejoice, all prog fans! Here we have some good music that, on top of it all, you can dance to!

All seriousness aside, this is a very very good album. I've been spinning a lot recently, getting used to the intense craziness that this band offers. Up until this point, I've never heard any band with this type of style of music. They have the really fast point where you lose your head in the intensity (usually a good thing here), and you have the slow parts with the inventive themes that pull you in. Even though not every track is a full winner, they are basically all fun and, as I said before, you can dance to almost every one of them. And who doesn't love that.

My favorite song on the album is, probably, the very first song, kicking off the album in a whirlwind of crazy polka-ish music. The other songs cover many different music forms as well. Slower songs like Lakeus have slow, building themes, which is followed right by Unikkotango, and you don't need to know Finnish to know that this is indeed one unique tango (even though I don't think that's the actual translation, according to the above track listing). And of course, there's the insane fast happy-go-lucky march of Kebab tai henki! Tankkaustunti just scares you to death with its opening riff, and so on and so forth. Of course, the other songs are worthwhile, but these just show the different form of song on the album.

If you have an open mind, get the album and see what you think. It is one unique experience, I can tell you that much. 3/5 stars.

Review by TRoTZ
3 stars Taking from the point Morphine managed in the 90's, in their sax-driven rock, Alamaailman Vasaria messed up even further rock's structure. Adding this, guitars and bass were abandoned and substituted by a crafted crusade of cellos and trombones. Music was an amalgam of genres, from progressive rock, folk music, eastern popular orchestral music, even a touch of tango and a gypsies/post-circus fragrance all over. The result lyes between the boundaries of an odd, dissonant paranoia, an elegy relying much more on a mesmerizing humorous craziness than on elegance.

Nevertheless the band doesn't neglect the most subtle side of music, "Lakeus" or "Hakumies", it is not as particularly effective as it would expect from the combination of these instruments. Few times the effort is compelling and memorable, like on "Memelukki & Musta Leski", while many other moments seem to be a parody carillon: "Perikunta", "Kebab tai Henki" or "Delhin Yöt". They inevitably couldn't avoid touching Scandinavian death metal on "Asuntovelka", with the intelligently distorted effects on the cello almost resembling heavy guitar riffs.

While mixing all those influences in this eclectic melting pot, they recreated something somewhat original but, nonetheless, ended to be a failed intent to make a revolution: it is not convincing enough to please the masses, nor sufficiently intriguing to captivate the intellectual elite. 3,5 stars.

Review by James Lee
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars It is almost inconceivable to me than anyone wouldn't love this band. Imagine a Bar Mitzvah played by Apocalyptica...or Finntroll with 60% less Black Metal and 80% more authentic instruments...or even John Zorn with a Gypsy fetish. How about Tom Waits' backing band doing Univers Zero cover tunes? What's not to love?

Seriously, though, I do understand that insane ethnic party jazz metal isn't everyone's cup of tea. Still, I dare you not to get a smile on your face from the very first few seconds. And I dare you not to be blown away by the sheer proficiency of the musicians (whether you approve of their choice of instruments or not).

And it's not all party. There's plenty of dramatic, even dark moments on the album ("Lakeus" could scare the pants off of you if you were in the right frame of mind, and some of the other songs can certainly evoke a sinister circus or a New Orleans funeral from time to time). The dynamic and thematic range is pretty broad, given the specific genre (a genre of one? Who else sounds quite like this?). From intricate blazing exoticism to death-metal-heavy martial moments ("Tankkaustunti" is an excellent example), this is one band that can cover a lot of exotic territory (like a wave of Cossacks, raping and pillaging across the musical Eastern landscape...okay, now I'm getting carried away with the metaphors).

I'm always raving about Comus, but it's not all that strained a comparison; though drastically different in form, the two bands manage to achieve the same ecstatic menace, that evil abandon that you just know is going to lead impressionable youth to kinky bonfire scenes and maybe a blood sacrifice or two...if only enough impressionable youths would listen to this kind of music (unlikely, for better or worse).

No, really, this is mostly just good crazy fun. Does humor belong in music? If you've checked yours at the door, don't bother with this band. Just give your copy to the next acidhead Rabbinical student you meet (and hide the cutlery!). Freedom Freedom Freedom Oy!

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Vasaraasia is the debut of Alamaailan Vasarat, a Finnish band with a fine mix of kletzmer-styled RIO with dots of 'metal'. This could potentially turn into a kind of a gimmick, and it kind of does. But I believe the material and musicianship remains strong and varied enough to support continued listening pleasure.

The band really fires through all sorts of instrumental polka and gypsy tunes, they add some jazz, a hint of avant-rock, and something that sounds like heavy metal guitars. Not too much, not even in every song, but where applied it gives this already very dynamic music another boost of energy. Surprisingly, the heavy sound is created with cellos and low-key trombone, but it sure sounds like distorted electric guitar to me.

The closest bands to compare them with would be Von Zamla, or Zorn's Masada injected with a shot of punk energy and aggression. Also the Norwegian polka-indie-rock of Kaizer's Orchestra comes to mind, be it that that band has vocals, use electrical guitars and are generally much better songwriters.

Alamaailan Vasarat's debut makes for an interesting listen where kletzmer folk music meets the energy of rock, a very alluring combination of sadness and vitality, perfect for my taste. With a keen eye for good hooks and the high level musicianship they've kept me engaged for the entire 51 minutes of this album. A great find. 3.5 stars

Latest members reviews

3 stars I just heard the sad news regarding the passing of Alamaailman Vasarat's Jarno Sarkula at the age of 47. He was the saxophone player (alto and tenor) for the band who's name translates to "hammers of the underworld" in English. I am not typically a huge fan of RIO or avant garde music but can a ... (read more)

Report this review (#2420049) | Posted by AFlowerKingCrimson | Thursday, July 16, 2020 | Review Permanlink

3 stars On their debut album, Alamaailman Vasarat doesn't waste any time letting you know they play a completely different breed of music. Alamaailman Vasarat play very fast and chaotic acoustic gypsy folk with a bit of metal with saxophones, trombones, organs, pianos and two cellos that are often elec ... (read more)

Report this review (#126222) | Posted by Arsillus | Monday, June 18, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars welcome to the fun world of alamaailman Vasarat, enjoy this musical gypsy circus. Fabulous highly skilled musicians in a pandemonium of cheerfull tunes and fast paced delightfull tunes. Even the more sad songs can't escape a cheerfulness unmatched before. Fabulous and fun to listen. ... (read more)

Report this review (#103030) | Posted by tuxon | Wednesday, December 13, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I cannot imagine giving this colossal mindblowing finnish weirdos less than 4 stars. I bought this album 2-3 years ago and it is still spinning in my CD player regullary. It even appeals to most of my friends and peers, who are not easily convinced by my taste of music. The reason for that ma ... (read more)

Report this review (#75345) | Posted by Rapataz | Tuesday, April 18, 2006 | Review Permanlink

3 stars It's a nice album, but it has a bit too much of useless try-outs on it. Some of the song sound too much like party music to make a real impact. The general atmosphere of the album is quite nice however. Sometimes loud, sometimes softer, some nice change. But the songs don't stay with me, 3* ... (read more)

Report this review (#63588) | Posted by the scientist | Saturday, January 7, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars 01. Marmelukki & Musta Leski (9.5/10) 02. Perikunta (8/10) 03. Lakeus (7/10) 04. Unikkotango (7.5/10) 05. Asuntovelka (9.5/10) 06. Kebab Tai Henki! (9/10) 07. Jano (6.5/10) 08. Tankkaustunti (7/10) 09. Merikaarme (7/10) 10. Hanta Hellii Kaarme (10/10) 11. Hakumies (7.5/10) 12 ... (read more)

Report this review (#41882) | Posted by | Saturday, August 6, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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