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FINNFOREST

Jazz Rock/Fusion • Finland


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Finnforest biography
FINNFOREST were formed in the mid-70's by Finnish brothers Pekka (guitar, bass) and Jussi Tegelman (drums) with synthesizer and keyboard player Jukka Rissanen. Mostly influenced by the MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA, their style also evokes early CAMEL, FINCH and CARAVAN. Their music is characterized by energetic and spirited guitar/organ interplay, interesting compositions and very good vintage 70's jamming overall. Unlike many fusion bands of that era, their (3) albums have a very under-produced, spontaneous feel.

Their eponymous album, released in 1975, is perhaps their most MAHAVISHNU influenced, with Rissanen sticking largely to his Hammond organ and using his synths sparingly, to mostly good effect. "Läthö Matkalle" (76), considered their best effort, boasts the contribution of two extra keyboard players, an additional bassist and a string quartet. You'll sense both a MAHAVISHNU and WEATHER REPORT influence on this one, which contains some mighty fine guitar work as well as some very good compositions. "Demon Nights" (79), with its two saxophonists and additional guitarist, has an even more fusion feel, with the WEATHER REPORT influence looming larger than ever, perhaps even a bit too much (some cuts come dangerously close to plagiarism).

Fusion afficionados in general as well as fans of FOCUS and ARTI E MESTIERI should definitely check these guys out, particularly the album "Läthö Matkalle".

: : : Lise (HIBOU), CANADA : : :

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FINNFOREST discography


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FINNFOREST top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.88 | 50 ratings
Finnforest
1975
3.94 | 40 ratings
Lähtö Matkalle
1976
3.25 | 16 ratings
Demon Nights
1979

FINNFOREST Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.50 | 2 ratings
Pop-Liisa 6 (Finnforest / Elonkorjuu)
2016

FINNFOREST Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

FINNFOREST Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.85 | 26 ratings
Finnforest / Lähtó Matkalle
1996
3.95 | 3 ratings
Alpha to Omega - The Complete Studio Recordings 1973-1980
2017

FINNFOREST Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.09 | 4 ratings
Tyhjyyteen, Syvyyteen
1973
2.14 | 3 ratings
Ketto
1976

FINNFOREST Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Demon Nights  by FINNFOREST album cover Studio Album, 1979
3.25 | 16 ratings

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Demon Nights
Finnforest Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

4 stars The right album title is actually Demonnights (no two separate words), and it simply referred to Jussi Tegelman's habit of making demos at night time.

The two earlier albums by this instrumental prog group from Kuopio, Finland, are highly respected even internationally, whereas this third and final one -- which came out just before the legendary Love Records went bankcrupt -- is generally seen as a notably weaker work, or at least as an unoriginal Weather Report imitation. I like WR but it's been too long since listening to them to be able to spot the suggested striking similarities between WR and this album. But perhaps the other way of seeing it is that the jazz fusion on Demonnights is so good that it's on the level of Weather Report. The playing is brilliant to start with.

BTW, I'm listening to the complete Finnforest 3-cd set "Alpha to Omega" featuring lengthy liner notes. An excellent package to have, even if you already owned an album or two by Finnforest.

The most obvious difference between the preceding Finnforest albums and Demonnights is that here the saxophones (mostly played by the legendary jazz veteran Juhani Aaltonen who has also played in Tasavallan Presidentti) are in a very central role. The band's line-up had also changed, new members including Jarmo Savolainen on Arp Odyssey, piano and Fender Rhodes plus guitarist Jari Rissanen. The former main composer, guitarist Pekka Tegelman has composed only one track here, the Victor Jara inspired 'Fighter' with a fiery guitar solo and a more mystic solo for bass flute. It's his twin brother Jussi (drums) who led the project at this point and wrote seven of the nine tracks.

The opening track is an upbeat and groovy fusion piece with delightful soloing for synth especially. 'Ann' is a moody, beautiful slow- tempo ballad. The airy title track focusses mostly on Aaltonen's sensual sax melodies, whereas the 2-minute 'Half Blues' is basically a freaky free-jazzy sax solo backed by piano and drums.

The liner notes reveal that 'Religions' was gloomily inspired by the Jonestown tragedy in Guyana (an organised mass suicide of over 900 people); it begins quite joyfully but turns into a distorted mayhem. 'Firth' is a sax- oriented and almost meditative piece that reminds me of Jan Garbarek. 'Far Away From' is a tender duet for sax and piano, and the album closes with 'Pablo' which is a definite highlight. The bass of Tuomo Helin sounds gorgeous and Jari Rissanen's guitar solo is impressive. I expected Petri Pettersson's wordless vocals to be more audible, but a great track anyway.

So, I'm pretty much opposing the rather negative reception and claim Demonnights to be a great and underrated item of the late 70's Finnish fusion scene.

 Finnforest by FINNFOREST album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.88 | 50 ratings

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Finnforest
Finnforest Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by friso
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Finnforest is a fusion / symphonic prog group from Finland that recorded its debut with the twin brothers Pekka Tegelman (guitars) and Jussi Tegelman (drums) at the age of seventeen! Love records had high hopes for this group and gave them two weeks of recording time in one of Scandinavia's best studio's. After a week they called back to the label; they we're already finished with both the recording and the mixing of the album. What a story.

Though the band has some of these fast paced fusion freak compositions (think of Mahavishnu), it also has symphonic prog leanings that reminds me of early Camel (mostly 'Mirage' en 'Snow Goose' era) with an added flavor of that nordic atmospheric coldness. The organs and synths used by keyboardist Jukka Risasanen produce some of the most iconic and atmospheric sounds of the seventies. Finnforest's debut also reminds me slightly of the more jazzed-up compositions of Focus, much like on their Ship of Memories album (which I really like!). The guitar of Pekka Tegelman has this fierce expressive sound that reminds me of Akkerman as well.

World-wide almost every country had one or more fusion-prog groups in the seventies (Leb I Sol, Blue Effect, Cai, Sloche, Nucleus, Tolonen, Finch, etc), and most of them have some very competent instrumentalists. What makes such a group interest for progressive rock listeners is the mainly the melodic potency, the atmosphere and the personality of the performances. Or the ability to write an instrumental song that functions as such. Finnforest debut stands out as particularly grasping, spot on and fierce. Like they are able to really get you to listen with the first two chords. The well-recorded vintage Camel-type magical sound also helps a lot.

My only complaint then would be that most compositions are rather underdeveloped, not often developing beyond its two or three main themes. The short tracks and running time of 32 minutes do actually make the album quite enjoyable for me, for that's precisely how much prog-fusion I'm willing to enjoy on a day. Actually, I might just skip back to side A after finishing side B - or so I noticed.

For such an unlikely yet well-recorded gem of Finnish progressive music I'm willing to give away a minor masterpiece rating. Highly recommended to listeners of the bands mentioned above.

 Alpha to Omega - The Complete Studio Recordings 1973-1980 by FINNFOREST album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2017
3.95 | 3 ratings

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Alpha to Omega - The Complete Studio Recordings 1973-1980
Finnforest Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

4 stars - The first review -

Last year Svart Records released the complete studio recordings of FINNFOREST, on five vinyls /three cd's, with detailed liner notes by Arttu Seppänen. I was familiar with the band's first two instrumental albums and the early single songs, so for me the nicest thing about this wonderful set was finally getting the third album Demonnights (1979). The leaflet (20 pages on the CD set) contains the full track information in a userfriendly form. The original releases, varied line-ups, composers, even the solos in the pieces, are indicated.

Already in their teenage years the Tegelman twin brothers, guitarist Pekka and drummer Jussi (b. 1957), played together -- and with bandmates whenever they had ones as they kept moving from town to town before settling in the eastern town Kuopio. The liner notes offer several interesting facts. Prior to Finnforest they had a trio named Lex that had two 40-minute pieces in their live set, the other being Frank Zappa's 'Willie the Pimp'. The early phase of Finnforest featured vocalist Ari Mustonen whose vocals can be heard on the three Finnish-language songs recorded in 1973 but also on three studio session pieces previously unreleased on cd. 'Mikä yö!' evolved into the opening track of the vocal-free debut album; in hindsight the vocals sound rather unnecessary ingredient, but this is an interesting curiosity, as well as the English-language songs 'Folkdance' and 'It's Somewhere Out There'. They are closer to Tasavallan Presidentti reminding blues rock -- and actually Mustonen sounds like a worse version of Frank Robson -- than the instrumental fusion of the albums.

The debut Finnforest (1975) is among the finest Finnish instrumental prog or fusion albums from the seventies. The style of the pieces, pretty average in length, vary between MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA reminding intensity to more delicate moods. Pekka's electric guitar is mostly in the lead role but Jukka Rissanen's organ, synths and piano are essential too. He was replaced by Jukka Linkola on the second album Lähtö matkalle (1976) which contains longer and therefore more wandering tracks. The other of the two-week recording sessions featured also Pertti Pokki on Arp Odyssey, and the beginning of the 2-part title track features a string section conducted by the Love Records chief Otto Donner. The album as a whole is slightly lame compared to the debut, despite several highlights. Prior to the second album the band was momentarily reduced to a duo which released the single 'Ketto / Tekee meisseliä'. You can read my reviews on both Finnforest singles; as Arttu Seppänen says in his liner notes, Finnforest was far from being a "singles band", but these singles -- featuring material quite different from the albums -- are certainly one reason for this complete set to be so interesting.

Demonnights was one of the last albums of Love Records that went bankcrupt; the Finnish prog scene in general was dying at the time. The compositions are mostly by Jussi Tegelman since Pekka had actually left the group (even though he plays on the the album). I was positively surprised by Demonnights which sounds pretty different from its precedessors, not least because of the saxophone participations of Juhani Aaltonen and Heikki Keskinen. I'll probably review it separately sometimes. The final three tracks of this 3CD/5LP set, recorded in 1980, haven't been released on cd before.

Summa summarum: even if you have an album or two from Finnforest, Alpha to Omega is well worth the price as the definitive history of this extraordinary band.

 Ketto by FINNFOREST album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1976
2.14 | 3 ratings

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Ketto
Finnforest Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

2 stars This single from the vaults of Love Records followed the debut album, and unlike the first single from 1973, this is instrumental and more or less in the album's Fusion style. At this point the group was actually just a duo of the very gifted Tegelman brothers. They also played in another Kuopio-based band, PETRI & PETTERSSON BRASS (which was no prog, more like entertainment vocal music, oriented to Finnish-language covers of American & British pop songs).

'Ketto' is a serene track featuring basically just synths and piano, rather similar as some minor, instrumental CAMEL tracks on albums such as Nude and Single Factor. Beautifully airy, but it lacks the recognizingly Finnish (and forestial, ha ha) Fusion spirit of the eponymous album.

'Tekee meisseliä' (that's an outdated idiom meaning "to feel good [e.g. sexually]") is a funky, airy and lighthearted jazz-rock piece. Nice but quite forgettable. Also these tracks are featured on "Love Proge 2". 2½ stars rounded down for rather mimimal originality.

 Tyhjyyteen, Syvyyteen by FINNFOREST album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1973
3.09 | 4 ratings

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Tyhjyyteen, Syvyyteen
Finnforest Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Two years before the eponymous debut album released by Love Records, FINNFOREST from Kuopio, Finland made a single via small Dynamiitti label. The unspectacular vocals - in Finnish, naturally - are by Aaro Mustonen. He soon left the band, which, under the firm guidance of guitarist Pekka Tegelman, continued with instrumental, atmospheric and airy Fusion on their albums.

'Tyhjyyteen syvyyteen' (= Into the void, into the depth) is a fast-tempo rocker with lots of vintage organ work by Jukka Rissanen. Listening to this [proto-]proggy but very brief song one can hardly avoid thinking of WIGWAM as the central pioneers of Finnish prog, but I'm not saying the composition would sound very much like Wigwam - no Pembroke nor Gustavson. In a way it sounds like it was done few years earlier; there's also a little scent of psychedelia. A pretty good track even if not a priceless classic.

'Sanomaton kirkkaus' (= Unspeakable brightness) is a mellow and relaxed mid-tempo song with quite romantic and esoteric lyrics. The comfortable sound resembles PROCOL HARUM with its organ and piano and simple electric guitar notes. If this was a Wigwam song, it surely would be by Jim Pembroke instead of Jukka Gustavson. Both songs can be heard on the "Love Proge 2" two-disc Various Artists compilation.

Finnforest found their own style later on, to the great pleasure of many Fusion-minded prog listeners in and out of Finland, but it's interesting to wonder how they would have succeeded (in the artistic sense, hardly in the commercial sense) with this vocal oriented style. Most certainly they wouldn' have been as unique anyhow.

 Demon Nights  by FINNFOREST album cover Studio Album, 1979
3.25 | 16 ratings

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Demon Nights
Finnforest Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Anon-E-Mouse

2 stars Whatever happened to Lise (HIBOU) who contributed many Biographies (this band included) with extreme precision and a lexical knowledge of artists and their material?

Thanks to my Finnish friends I had the first two albums on LP for decades. Both of them are excellent and are treasured possessions.

"Demon Nights" was released much, much later and is very different, practically bears no semblance to their earlier works. The band here falls into the common trap of trying to imitate WEATHER REPORT, a band that I am rather fond of. Many leading artists have attempted to do the same and those imitations were generally rather poor efforts. Efforts that didn't enhance the artists' profile, but resulted in rather the opposite. "Demon Nights" did just that for FINNFOREST, resulting in one of the most forgettable WR imitations. This work is rather pointless and should never have been made public. You have been warned!

Still, I would wholeheartedly recommend their first two albums which have been released on one CD, sporting one of the finest presentations I know of.

 Finnforest / Lähtó Matkalle by FINNFOREST album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1996
3.85 | 26 ratings

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Finnforest / Lähtó Matkalle
Finnforest Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

4 stars In the mid-90's, the excellent Ken Golden, founder of the Laser's Edge label, found time and money to reissue some of Finland's best (but then-sadly forgotten) group, Finnforest, by releasing their first two albums on a single disc. According to a few Scandic prog experts, the sound was dramatically improved.

The only two possible critics that I could have against this release, is that it ignores the band's third album, released after the band's reformation in 78, and that has yet to find a CD reissue (at least to my knowledge), while the second objection is that it doesn't feature one of the album's respective original artwork (parachute and lonely trees), but replaces it with typically Finnish taiga picture. Outside these minor recriminations, this is a splendid indispensable release that every Scandinavian JR/F lovers must own.

 Lähtö Matkalle by FINNFOREST album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.94 | 40 ratings

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Lähtö Matkalle
Finnforest Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

4 stars With a revamped line-up after Rissanen's departure, the band becomes a (standard prog) quartet y adding keyboardist Linkola and reacquainting with bassist Hiekkala. Well the new arrivals definitely changed the band's sound and one can only notice a shift away from the symphonic prog (mainly due to Rissanen's classical training) to slide towards a much fierier still-instrumental jazz-rock ala Mahavishnu Orchestra, even if they will never reach the speed of light execution and the 200 notes/second sound-barrier of McL's crew. Released on the inevitable Love Record label in 76, the album sports a superb lonely tree on an otherwise-barren land. Too bad it will get lost in the album's sole CD reissue.

Where their debut album featured eight tracks, the LM successor featured only five, for a longer overall duration, including a two-part sidelong title track. Right from the first notes of the opening Alpha track, one can hear MO inspirations, but Finnforest cannot be reduced to that lone influence either. Indeed, Elvin is a quite slower tune, but shifting constantly of time and key changes. One of the main sonic changes is that Linkola makes a greater use of his ARP synth (a bit at the expense of the organ), but it fits the band's new directions to a tee. The album-shortest Den track presents an ultra-funky ARP-and-Rhodes dominated fusion, which also indulges in a (unneeded) drum solo, but it presents a different facet of their new line-up.

The sidelong title track is a much more complex piece that includes some extended string arrangements and orchestrations. It is indeed the orchestra that opens the first movement, and plays "solo", before dying down and allowing the group to take over. In the slow but implacable crescendo that will follow, the strings come back regularly for dramatics- induced interventions. When the group is in its full twin-barrel turbo speed, it is reminiscent to Mahavishnu mixing body fluids with a horn-less Zao/Magma. Sounds intriguing??? You bet your arse, it is! The second half opens on Linkola's slow melancholic piano, but the group slowly inserts its excellent grain of salt, and Linkola shifts to the organ and plenty of that ARP synth, with Hiekkala's bass romping all over its fretboard. Excellent stuff. The band would go on for a while after the album's release, but it was unstable and it folded apart, to rise from its ashes two years later and record their final album under the same line-up, but with a main composer shift to drummer Jussi. This second album is my personal fave over the debut, but it is rather difficult to dissociate them apart since the only possible CD reissue is the Laser's Edge 2on1, which I used to review Finnforest's albums I've heard. Much recommended.

 Finnforest by FINNFOREST album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.88 | 50 ratings

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Finnforest
Finnforest Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

3 stars 3.5 stars really!!

A band that found its origins in Kuopio (in the centre of Finland) among the taiga lakes and forests that abound in the region (hence the group's name), the group's origins are made from the Jussi and Pekka Tegelman twin brothers (drums and guitars respectively) who then met classically-trained keyboardist Rissanen and bass player Hiekkala and a vocalist. But by the time of their debut album's recording, they were down to an instrumental trio, with the guitarist handling the bass. Graced with a parachute artwork, recorded in Stockholm in just four days and released on Finland's main label, Love Records, the debut album fluctuates between some organ-led symphonic prog and some fiery jazz-rock in a mix that can recall Focus' style.

Opening on the soft and slow Mika Yo, the album finds a typically Scandinavian melancholic organ-drenched mood, one that follows on Sanaton Lolou, although it slowly picks up speed and energy. Generally you can say that the album's A-side is rather symphonically-gentle and smooth, while the flipside is much more fiery and energetic. Tegelman's guitar takes on fiery edges of a master like McLaughlin, and it is rather obvious that the band had heard of the fusion of Mahavishnu Orchestra before. Indeed if one can hear some of the Lizst influences (due to Rissanen's Hungarian studies), one can also detect some Mahavishnuian-deformed Stravinsky ambiances as well. The closing fusionesque PS (post-scriptum) is a good indication of what to come in the near future

Apparently well-received by the critics, the band only played a few gigs as keyboardist Rissanen returned to his musical studies (yup, in Hungary!!), so this relatively short album is the only testimony of that line-up, but it's a very interesting one, and probably the easiest for symphonic-minded progheads. Note that I've reviewed this first album through the excellent Laser's Edge 2on1 CD release, though.

 Finnforest by FINNFOREST album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.88 | 50 ratings

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Finnforest
Finnforest Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Finnforest is a great guy who's contributed a lot to the site, particularly through his work with the RPI team, and his avatar is like a Star Trek person who...

Oh, wait, this is for reviewing the *album* Finnforest, not the reviewer. Sorry.

Finnforest play in a light airy jazz-rock fusion style reminiscent of Canterbury scene bands such as Gilgamesh, late-period Soft Machine, or Egg as they appeared on The Civil Surface. Pekka Tegelman's guitar work is the main attraction of the album, though Jukka Rissanen's contributions on keyboards and synths are also worth a mention. Whilst I wouldn't say they were a particularly groundbreaking act, they do a more than competent job of producing an enjoyable album in this particular style, one which will probably give pleasure to anyone keen on second-tier late-period Canterbury groups.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to NotAProghead for the last updates

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