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Symphonic Prog • Estonia

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Põhja Konn biography
This Estonian band was formed in 2009 but went silent in 2011 before receiving in 2015 an invitation from the Estonian writers association to produce and release an album inspired by Estonian poems of Betti Alver. The music is a new twist of classic 70's prog with influences from RUJA, IN SPE and BEARDFISH.

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4.07 | 10 ratings
Põhja Konn
4.04 | 5 ratings
Hetk. InSpereeritud Tüürist

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 Hetk. InSpereeritud Tüürist by PÕHJA KONN  album cover Studio Album, 2019
4.04 | 5 ratings

Hetk. InSpereeritud Tüürist
Põhja Konn Symphonic Prog

Review by TCat
Special Collaborator Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team

4 stars Põhja Konn is a symphonic prog band coming from Estonia and formed in 2009. It wasn't until 2016 that the band released their first album which was inspired by Estonina poet Betti Alver and her works. Then in December of 2019, they released their 2nd full length studio album called "Hetk. InPereeritud Tuurist". The vocals by the band are all in Estonian, but the music is definitely inspired by progressive rock bands of the 70s, including Genesis and Gentle Giant.

This 2nd album is an excellent collection of progressive music. There are 11 tracks that have a total run time of 54 minutes. The music mixes the aforementioned progressive styles with Estonaian rock styles to create a sound of their own, one that is definitely interesting and engaging even if you don't understand the lyrics. The vocalist Valter Soosalu, who doubles as the main keyboardist, is a decent enough singer and holds his own well with obvious emotional dynamics when needed. But the music is a very unique and interesting symphonic prog style that really does reflect the older style of prog more than it does the Neo-prog style.

This is all accomplished by Valter along with Jurgen Kutner and Kristen Kutner on guitars, Ott Adamson on drums and Slim Avango on bass. There are supporting musicians on backing vocals and percussion, but the thing that makes this even more engaging and unique is the addition of the Vox Clamantis Vanermuine Orchestra which features some great sounds of strings, woodwinds and brass. All of this together makes for some of the best orchestral/progressive collaboration work done in 2019. However, the orchestra isn't there to cover up for any weaknesses of the band, as they also prove themselves as adept composers and musicians that could have carried the album easily on their own, The addtion of the orchestra just adds a further element and dynamic to everything. Sometimes the orchestra takes most of the control of the music, other times the band itself takes over completely and even at other times, it is shared quite effectively between everyone involved.

When you start off this album, you might think you are listening to a jazz/rock fusion album as the brass section greets us with a bright and shiny track that will make you wonder if you got the wrong album playing. However after "Avamang 2020", the real influence becomes obvious as the band moves to the more progressive styles of their musical heroes and the core group takes over. Later they pass the baton to the orchestra as "Vaike Eestimaine Laul" is much more symphonic sounding and Valter sings in a fuller, almost operatic tone, but it works quite well. There is another plesant surprise in the track "Isamaa" which is led by the strings in a chamber music style that also includes the lead singer and background voices layered together and sounding like a small choir. With all of this dynamism in the music, it makes me wish I could understand the story and/or lyrics of these tracks, especially since there is a little narration involved, but not enough to take away the enjoyment of the music from non-Estonian listeners.

"Pillimees on Alati Tragi" is a great progressive instrumental that will again bring the band's influences to mind with some great musicianship that would fit easily on an early Genesis or Gentle Giant album. Guitars and keys are used with a fair balance, never too much of one or the other. Even the drums and percussion get a chance to solo and shine on this track. The longest track on the album is "Paikesevene" which reaches the 10 minute mark. It begins with a sinister sounding, yet somewhat minimal interplay between the strings, but the music continues to build and become more frantic and dramatic, almost like a post-rock composition for orchestra, but driven by the violins and cello, weaving back and forth from dissonant to melodic many times throughout, calming down in the middle only to rebuild tension and drama again.

This is a very good album that is very enjoyable, regardless of the language it is in. You can tell these musicians take their talents seriously and that they can produce music that is top-notch. There are a few places that falter a bit which has more to do with their early development than anything else. The one thing they prove with this album is that they are a band to pay attention to. This album is definitely worth a listen, and there may be some that feel it is even 5 star material, but, even though I feel it is excellent, there is still some room to grow here. But I do recommend it to those looking for something unique that also offers a lot of variety. The last few tracks tend to falter a bit, but not enough to ruin the album. It definitely got my attention, and hopefully it will for others. Give it a try. It's definitely worth mentioning as one that shouldn't be ignored this year, which has seen a lot of surprisingly great albums from many unknown bands.

 Põhja Konn by PÕHJA KONN  album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.07 | 10 ratings

Põhja Konn
Põhja Konn Symphonic Prog

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This young band from Estonia released one of my favourite progresive rock albums all time. One of the most sincere and captivating albums i ever listen to. From the excellent art work to the sublime arrangements Pohja Konn really done it. Debut album released in 2016 selftitled. Sung in estonian gives a more special listing. Taken influences from Gentle Giant, Ruja or In Spe, Pohja Konn add some of their one ingredients and the result is amazing. Intelligent instrumental parts, keyboards and guitars of the highest finess and on top a warm voice. From me easy 4,5 stars goes recommended.
Thanks to rdtprog for the artist addition.

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