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LIGHTHOUSE SPARROWS

Neo-Prog • Finland


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Lighthouse Sparrows biography
A Finnish rock project LIGHTHOUSE SPARROWS have got started in July 2019 as an experimental rock duo founded by Sami SARHAMAA (guitars, bass, voices) and Olli HUHTANEN (voices, keyboards), both of whom have worked in the music scene together for over a decade. They started composing material smoothly at first, but in March 2020, Covid-19 outbreak changed the situation. All of their projects were delayed or cancelled, but they never gave up and produced five promising songs - that saw the light as their debut ep titled "The Deep End" released on August 1st, 2020, in collaboration with Miri MIETTINEN upon drums and Trio TINGO upon backing voices.

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LIGHTHOUSE SPARROWS discography


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

3.92 | 22 ratings
Aerials
2022

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

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

3.98 | 12 ratings
The Deep End
2020
3.96 | 5 ratings
Safe and Sound
2021

LIGHTHOUSE SPARROWS Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Aerials by LIGHTHOUSE SPARROWS album cover Studio Album, 2022
3.92 | 22 ratings

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Aerials
Lighthouse Sparrows Neo-Prog

Review by Rivertree
Special Collaborator PSIKE Team & Band Submissions

4 stars The real full-length debut album offered by this productive composer duo Olli Huhtanen and Sami Sarhamaa from Finland. Both are covering all the guitar, bass, keyboard and vocal duties again. Hah, guessed correctly, when I came in touch with their initial EP in 2020 I was quite sure that this could not be the deep end. The elaborate arrangements convinced me, so much spirit available, consequently there was more to be expected. Mission accomplished almost two years later! This requires a fruitful collaboration with a drummer of course. Yep, Miri Miettinen delivers a great job, that should be noted. Finally Ella Eriksson aka EllaElla rounds it all up with some nice speech and backing vocals like on the charming track Safe And Sound. That needs a further note now concerning the sound quality, it's exorbitant, leaves nothing to be desired.

For good reason I'll continue with the second track Assimilate, eh, the title somehow hits the nail on the head. This is a prog album for sure, nevertheless sometimes also features sophisticated pop rock imprints, for example in the vein of Tears For Fears in best form. No problem, I'm feeling absolutely comfortable with this clever production. The closing track Youth on the other hand is such a multi-varianted exemplar. Songwriting at its best. No Still Moment even features a complete choir backing. Hence, literally seen they are '... giving people what they deserve ...', Kibitzer definitely makes my day, appears as one album highlight. Or just take the fabulous Itinerant with its enourmous pressure and groove, fantastic! Finally, according to the atmosphere and niveau, let me compare this with Perfect Storm's album 'No Air'. 'Aerials' is available in digital and double vinyl format through the Samsara Records label. A must have for melodic (prog) rock lovers.

 Aerials by LIGHTHOUSE SPARROWS album cover Studio Album, 2022
3.92 | 22 ratings

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Aerials
Lighthouse Sparrows Neo-Prog

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

4 stars The Finnish two-man project LIGHTHOUSE SPARROWS -- Sami Sarhamaa (vocals, guitars, basses) and Olli Huhtanen (vocals, keyboards) -- have now released their first proper album, following the debut ep The Deep End (2020) and the singles 'Safe & Sound' and 'Elephant', both included on this new album. Accompanying the creative duo, drummer Miri Miettinen is again on board, and two tracks feature female backing vocals of Ella Eriksson. Aerials is available on digital format, cd and a double vinyl.

The roughly 66-minute album opens with an instrumental piece 'Bates'. The electric guitar and keys carry the melodies reminiscent of IQ for instance. 'Assimilate' is a good example of the band's general style which I consider to be fairly comparable to Pax Romana and other projects of my namesake Matti Kervinen, with whom Sarhamaa has collaborated a lot. That is, a slightly melancholic song in an unhurried tempo, some Pink Floyd vibes and a nice balance between vocal orientation and a sophisticated soundscape painting with instrumental sections. All in all not very complex, meandering compositions full of odd time signatures, but I've never demanded those things from good prog anyway. Another thing to enjoy with Lighthouse Sparrows is the alteration of two different vocals, both being fairly good. Whereas Olli Huhtanen's voice reminds me of Guy Manning, Sami Sarhamaa has a bit smokier voice with an occasional David Sylvian feel in the delivery. He sings on 'Moodswings' which is one of the most impressive songs on Aerials due to its emotional depth. It somehow reminds me of Roger Waters' album Is This the Life We Really Want?, mainly for the mood and synth sounds.

'Kibitzer' sung by Huhtanen is basically quite a vocal oriented song with several repetitive lines but it stretches into very cool and cinematic sonic details. The electric guitar solo is powerful. 'No Still Moment' is another emotionally impressive, melancholic song with Sarhamaa's lead vocals. Nice to notice he mentions David Sylvian among his favourites. Although at this early stage of absorbing the album I tend to enjoy the songs with Sarhamaa's vocals more, I truly couldn't say the songs with Huhtanen's lead vocals were less finely crafted. The two really work brilliantly together in shaping the songs.

Even without keeping an eye closely on the lyrics, the listener gets the feeling that they are an essential part of the music. According to Sarhamaa, he and Huhtanen "write lyrics after the music has taken shape. For me the lyrics are mandatory for the melody, I need the timing and the feel of the lyrics to make the melody. (...) Usually the one that writes the lyrics sings them as well. (...) Our songs are very much an amalgam of our ideas, of course the initial idea is from either of us, but the end result is almost always more or less 50/50. I tend to do more arranging, Olli's focus is more on the melodies and harmonies. As rhythm is mostly my department, my focus is very much on the groove and tempo at the beginning."

'Safe & Sound' I have reviewed separately as a single. This moody song about the pandemic isolation is something just about anyone can easily relate to. The female backing vocals are a fine addition in it. The final track 'Youth' contains speech samples mainly from Greta Thunberg. This piece is the longest (8:35) and sonically the 'widest' one, and its spatial sections with vocals are really something to get under your skin. In fact, when I listened to this album for the first time, my initial reception was somewhat lukewarm, but now I realize it gets better with time. The carefully detailed sounds and the excellent production, good vocals, the easy-to-digest melodicism, the emotion and the sense of meaningfulness on the songs, they all make me rate this album with gratitious four stars.

P.S. If you want to know more of this band and the Finnish prog scene today, you may also find it interesting to read the entire lengthy interview of Sami Sarhamaa. His musical history indeed has many prog-oriented chapters (e.g. Pax Romana, Kataya, Liquid Wolf -- to mention the bands included here). See the 'Interviews' section in the ProgArchives Forum.

 Safe and Sound by LIGHTHOUSE SPARROWS album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2021
3.96 | 5 ratings

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Safe and Sound
Lighthouse Sparrows Neo-Prog

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Yesterday was the official date of release for this digital single by the Finnish recording project LIGHTHOUSE SPARROWS, led by Sami Sarhamaa (voc, g, b, progr) and Olli Huhtanen (keyb, backing voc). Last autumn they released The Deep End, a 30-minute album/EP which has received very favourable ratings here. 'Safe and Sound' is a song inspired by the COVID-19 lockdown, its lyrics reflect the confused feelings of being isolated in one's own home. "The walls get close and box me in". "The world has turned upside down..." I think just about everyone can relate to the lyrics, which are an essential part of the song's emotional power. A music video was made as well.

But most of all it is the carefully produced modern-and-yet-timeless sound that makes 'Safe and Sound' a fine track. With their EP I made comparisons to their countrymen PAX ROMANA and SUNHILLOW for the Floydian, relatively mellow but dark-toned sound, and here they have improved it even further. The composition in itself may not be breath-taking, but it flows ideally and the five minutes are put to a perfect use. Sarhamaa's warm vocals are now accompanied by Ella Eriksson's beautiful voice. The production is absolutely top notch, which however doesn't result as clinical stiffness. Hopefully there are more music to be expected from Lighthouse Sparrows!

 The Deep End by LIGHTHOUSE SPARROWS album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2020
3.98 | 12 ratings

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The Deep End
Lighthouse Sparrows Neo-Prog

Review by Rivertree
Special Collaborator PSIKE Team & Band Submissions

4 stars 'The Deep End' is a spellbinding EP recently forwarded from Finland to us prog fans. Roundabout thirty minutes playing time, composed by the longtime musical companions Sami Sarhamaa and Olli Huhtanen, who both also provide the complete guitar, bass, keyboard and vocal stuff. While they aren't defining something totally new concerning the stylistical aspect, eh, I know, difficult enough anyway, the five compositions all are real winners. So this is featuring sense of melancholy and melody, diverse stages, moods and technical skills. All in all it appeals, is convincing me very much in its entirety. This also due to drummer Miri Miettinen, who is a great addition to that staff.

Gravest Danger kicks off with an atmospheric feel, later evolves to a more straightforward rocking issue. Perfect sound mix all over the place, resulting in an enjoyable lush experience. Scales then offers some psychedelic reminiscence to Pink Floyd for the first time, later continued with the title track Deep End. LIGHTHOUSE SPARROWS are offering really entertaining and gripping arrangements, also comparable to the likes of RPWL or Airbag maybe, a bit heavier though here and there. Bravo, Sami and Olli, very good start. I'm expecting to hear more like this soon!

 The Deep End by LIGHTHOUSE SPARROWS album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2020
3.98 | 12 ratings

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The Deep End
Lighthouse Sparrows Neo-Prog

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

4 stars LIGHTHOUSE SPARROWS is a collaboration between two long-time professional musicians, Sami Sarhamaa (guitars, bass, vocals, additional keys) and Olli Huhtanen (vocals, keys). This 30-minute debut features also Miri Miettinen on drums and Trio Tingo's backing vocals. Huhtanen has worked as a film composer and sound designer, and in his work he has often crossed paths with Sarhamaa, who is better known in Finnish prog circles. He was one of the three central figures in the instrumentally oriented band KATAYA, which is a fairly good comparison for this music even though all of the five tracks here feature vocals. In the early 80's Sarhamaa was in a prog band called Chapter One, and he has also released ambient albums Scapes & Tracks (2009) and Trails of Mist (2013) under the pseudonym Sam Marsala. And in the Heavy Prog category there's LIQUID WOLF led by Sarhamaa.

In July 2019 Lighthouse Sparrows (a suitable name indeed, even though the music soars more like a swallow than a modest sparrow) was born, and the two "started writing music instantly. Would it be progressive rock, art rock or something else? We decided just to let things flow with no limitations whatsoever." They didn't want to feel any pressure since both were kept busy by their own work too -- until other projects were cancelled due to the certain virus. They withdrew into their own studios and kept in touch virtually. But now into the music. Neo-Prog is a valid category, but perhaps it's easier to find similar styled acts from Crossover Prog. Although Sarhamaa's Kataya partner Matti Kervinen is not involved, I sense some kindred spirit also to Kervinen's other projects PAX ROMANA and SUNHILLOW. The music is spatial, atmospheric and melodic, easy just to sit back and enjoy. The certain Pink Floyd flavour is obvious but not derivative.

'Gravest Danger' is a perfect example of combining the accessible, melodic "deep pop" sensibility with an excellent production and musicianship full of progressive nuances and deep ambiences. The duo's experience in film music has certainly affected the result in a good way. Throughout the brief album keyboards and guitars build sophisticated and multi-layered soundscapes. Undoubtedly the music would work pretty well as completely instrumental, in the Kataya style, but the vocals add another dimension. Occasionally they remind me of (not only the mentioned Matti Kervinen but also) Guy Manning -- when he's not so close to Ian Anderson.

All of the five songs are very good. They are kept quite economical in length (the longest is only 7:11), so don't expect symphonically meandering Neo-Prog. Lots of fine instrumental soloing you do hear though. Maybe the best piece is 'Gravity' -- yes, the longest one -- that finishes the album with a beautiful and delicate piano solo.

Thanks to dAmOxT7942 for the artist addition.

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