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TABULA RASA

Symphonic Prog • Finland


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Tabula Rasa biography
From Kangsala, Finland, Tabula Rasa was founded in 1972 by guitarist Heikki Silvennoinen, drummer Asko Pakkanen, and bass player Tapio Suominen. During the band's run, Mikko Alatalo played the Peter Sinfield role as contributing lyricist, and unofficial member. They are considered one of the top finish prog bands, but tend be overlooked when put alongside Wigwam, and Tasavallan Pesidentti (sort of like the Kinks next to the Beatles, The Who, and The Rolling Stones). Along with opening for Wigwam, they gained notoriety by becoming runner up in the 1972 "Best Finnish Pop Group" contest.

For the 1975 self-titled debut, the band had been filled out by vocalist Jukka Leppilampi, flautist Jarmo Sormunen, and pianist Jim Pembroke. 1976's "Ekkedien Tanssi" saw some changes in personnel. Jarmo Sormunen was gone, Jukka Aronen replaced Pakkanen on percussion, and keyboardist Jarno Sinisalo replaced Pembroke. Vocalist Jukka Salmela took the lead on the last two tracks. Wigwam's Jukka Gustavson made a guest appearance, and co-produced the album.

The band split in 1977 as Aronen and Silvonnoinen joined Coitus Inc, and other members followed different philosophical paths.

The music is mellow, and melodic. The obvious comparisons are made to their Finnish contemporaries, but there is also a strong resemblance to Camel (and even a bit of Steve Hackett).

H.T. Riekels (bhikkhu)

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TABULA RASA discography


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

3.42 | 45 ratings
Tabula Rasa
1975
2.84 | 41 ratings
Ekkedien Tanssi
1976

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

3.05 | 2 ratings
Prinssi
1975
3.14 | 3 ratings
Rakastatko vielä kun on ilta
1977

TABULA RASA Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Prinssi by TABULA RASA album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1975
3.05 | 2 ratings

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Prinssi
Tabula Rasa Symphonic Prog

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

3 stars TABULA RASA (from Kangasala/Tampere) were one of the essential 70's Finnish prog bands that were signed to the legendary Love Records but didn't come from the Helsinki region. The highly melodic music on their two classic albums was composed by the guitarist Heikki Silvennoinen, while the lyrics were mostly written by singer-songwriter Mikko Alatalo.

This single preceded the eponymous debut, both songs are outtakes from it. They represent the two different musical styles that the album's contents can roughly be divided to. 'Prinssi' is a sensitive and melancholic song. I think the band were at their strongest with this kind of emotional stuff, especially concerning the tender vocals of Jukka Leppilampi who wasn't as convincing in the more rocking territory. On the debut the greatest highlights are, in my opinion, 'Gryf' and 'Vuorellaistuja' that succesfully combine this emotional depth and dynamic progressivity in the structure. 'Prinssi' may lack notable prog trademarks, but it's a beautiful little song. The delicate arrangement featuring guitar, flute and piano (played by WIGWAM's Jim Pembroke!) is lovely.

'Lähtö' isn't a bad rock composition per se, but the vocals become a bit phoney when Leppilampi approaches the David Byron -like hard rock vibrato. Silvennoinen has a ballsy electric guitar solo near the end and Jarmo Sormunen's flute has a nice Jethro Tull flavour, even though it's too buried in the slightly blurry mix. Unlike Tabula Rasa's second single, their final release which contains two non-album songs, this one is pretty non-essential.

 Rakastatko vielä kun on ilta by TABULA RASA album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1977
3.14 | 3 ratings

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Rakastatko vielä kun on ilta
Tabula Rasa Symphonic Prog

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

3 stars The Svart Records' vinyl re-release of the Finnish TABULA RASA's second album "Ekkedien tanssi" contains this final single as a supplement. And like the great-looking gatefold LP sleeve featuring new liner notes by the band's lyricist Mikko Alatalo (who was a singer-songwriter in his own right, not a TR member), the fold-out 7" sleeve also contains new liner notes - both in Finnish and in English. Curiously though, they concentrate on the former vocalist Jukka Leppilampi, who found faith and left the band after Ekkedien tanssi was released.

The new singer was Jukka Salmela whose positively ordinary vocals suit very well to the less proggy pop-rock style of Tabula Rasa after the more symphonic debut (1975). 'Rakastatko vielä kun on ilta' (= Will you still love when the evening comes) is a rather straight-forward, slightly funky, harmless, chorus-repetitive song, but a fairly good one as such. The listener simply shouldn't be expecting to hear any prog in it. The lyrics are this time by the great late Juice Leskinen.

The B-sider is 'Yksin' (= Alone), composed, as always, by the guitarist Heikki Silvennoinen and with Alatalo's lyrics as usual. This is equally a non-progressive pop song, in a slightly slower tempo. It succesfully captures the melancholic emotions of a fresh family man temporarily away from his wife and child.

As far as I know, this single has always been highy appreciated in Finland (by the rock/pop audience in general, not by those who cried after the withering prog genre), and I personally agree that these two tracks are good pop of the time. There have been great prog bands who turned into bad pop, and it's surely better to do good pop than a bad hybrid of prog and pop. And regarding that one gets two non-album songs, this single deserves three friendly stars.

 Ekkedien Tanssi  by TABULA RASA album cover Studio Album, 1976
2.84 | 41 ratings

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Ekkedien Tanssi
Tabula Rasa Symphonic Prog

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

3 stars Second (and last) album in as many years for TR, but the line-up had changed a fair bit as the flutist got replaced by a keyboardist and the drummer stool saw a new owner. Strangely enough, the usually very-trustworthy Asbjornssen shoots at this album, describing it as surprisingly uninspired and sounding more like UK prog. I can only disagree, even if the album's overall energy level doesn't increase, but the typical Italian-prog feel is still quite present. As for the inspiration, everything is relative, neither TR albums being particularly original or groundbreaking (euphemism of the day of reviewing).

Once again, the lion's share of the songwriting is left to guitarist Silvennoinen, except Glass Bead Game (obviously named after Hesse's book) where newcomer KBist Sinisalo gets a co-credit, though it does make much a noticeable sonic difference. Even Gustavsson's (Wigwam) production and backing vocals don't make much a sonic difference between Ekkedien and the band's debut album. Actually, there is one track that seems to stick out a bit from the TR mass, the A-side?closing Omantunon Rukous (or sumthing of that ilk), because the dramatics suddenly peak to the country's highest hill; but in all honesty, you won't get much jollies, unless being particularly non-demanding.

Btw, at the time of reviewing, I was only able to get my hands upon a Japanese label pressing of both of TR album, but I can't imagine that Love Records will not reissue these two albums in the not-to- distant future. The album's artwork is certainly a big improvement on their debut(s very bland (and very blank) artwork, but its fantasy-cum-sci-fi nears the ridiculous, as it is a total prog cliché, and not even a good one. Soooooooo, as far as I can hear, I don't find this second album inferior in any way to the debut; the additional KB compensating for the loss of the flute.

 Ekkedien Tanssi  by TABULA RASA album cover Studio Album, 1976
2.84 | 41 ratings

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Ekkedien Tanssi
Tabula Rasa Symphonic Prog

Review by ZowieZiggy
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Of course, the music from these guys is not very complex which means that you shouldn't expect intricate and long pieces of music.

But this work is full of melody, beautiful guitar and sounds very much like the early "Camel" (mainly "Snow Goose" and "Moonmadness"). Some symphonic jazz tints complete the picture during the excellent opener (and probably the best song of the whole) but not only ("Uskollinen").

I miss the fine fluting of their debut though, and the vocal parts are less charming than what they used to be (to say the least). Some might say that this work is at times borderline plagiarism and could almost be considered as a "Camel" one if you would except the vocals (in their native language).

Do take this album for what it is: a romantic and melodic work of symphonic prog with some folk attributes ("Aamukasteen Laiva" or "Rakastaa"). Sit down, relax and enjoy. "Ekkedien Tanssi" is not as good as their debut: some songs towards the end are rather flat: "Kehto", "Babyla Rasa" but the guitar part in the good closing number ("Säästä Mun Pää") is splendid and full of passion.

Both bonus tracks are only valid thanks to the instrumental sections. Three stars.

 Tabula Rasa  by TABULA RASA album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.42 | 45 ratings

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Tabula Rasa
Tabula Rasa Symphonic Prog

Review by ZowieZiggy
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Finland didn't father as many great bands as Sweden but the legendary "Tabula Rasa" is still worth a listen. Even more: a lot of your attention.

If you like some Tullian sounds, this effort might well suit your taste. From the wild opener "Latho" to the melodic "Miks' Ette Vastaa Vanhat Puut" your faithfully is charmed. Fine fluting and melodic vocals (although not understandable for my ear but it doesn't matter) are the attractions of this mellow song.

This album is almost all of symphony and beauty. Sweet compositions, delicate keyboards are the union for "Tuho".

The mix of music featured can be rather disturbing: from wild and rocking during "Gryf" to tranquil and peaceful music à la "Fruupp" indeed (as some of my fellow colleagues did mention during their reviews) during most parts.

I quite like this album, not taking it as a masterpiece into account; because there is a flaw like the popish " Tyhja On Taulu"

Within instants, the band can revert to a much more complex, almost Crimsonian sound. Such is the very good " Nyt Maalaan Elamaa". Wild guitar, delicious flute, severe bass and gorgeous keys. Do you need anything else???

Some folkish sounds are also available while the long " Vuorellaistuja" is being played. Again, vocals are quite moving (even if I don't grab a word). And what to say about these magical and very much "Genesis" oriented musical parts! Great moments of music for sure.

Even if the wah wah guitar feature sounds a bit old fashioned, it is always a pleasure to listen to such a good piece of guitar work. And what to tell about the expressive flute part? This song is for sure the absolute highlight from this release.

Four stars for this beautiful and melodic work.

 Ekkedien Tanssi  by TABULA RASA album cover Studio Album, 1976
2.84 | 41 ratings

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Ekkedien Tanssi
Tabula Rasa Symphonic Prog

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

3 stars First, i'm totaly agree with erik neuteboom who said that this album is a fine prog effort, and second this is a beautiful soft rock with good keys and guitars. The first track (i will not mention the titles, because are hard to write), the album's name is a great opener with smooth guitarand keys. To me this album really sound symphonic, and is not bad, maybe a little to mellow. Sometimes sounds like Kaipa, but more vague in contrast with what was made by prog bands in mid '70. 3 stars, still enjoyble to me, if for you, listen and convince yourself that is not so bad album after all.
 Ekkedien Tanssi  by TABULA RASA album cover Studio Album, 1976
2.84 | 41 ratings

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Ekkedien Tanssi
Tabula Rasa Symphonic Prog

Review by Eetu Pellonpaa
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

2 stars This album is in my opinion a quite poor and uninspired sequel to the mediocre self-titled debut of this late 1970's Finnish rock band. Their first record can be justly be called as "prog", as it took it influences from early 1970's British prog groups, but this stuff is more straightforward, powerless and grey pop rock. The religious-critical and metaphorical lyrics of Mikko Alatalo have here been changed as their antithesis; Simpleminded and noncritical gospel lyrics. Also the flute player has been lost so the sound textures are here duller to listen. "Aamukasteen laiva" ("Ship of the morning dew" or something) stands as a singular insight to the values of beautifulness on this album for me. I wouldn't recommend this album except for those who are really interested of late 1970's Finnish music or anything even slightly prog related.
 Tabula Rasa  by TABULA RASA album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.42 | 45 ratings

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Tabula Rasa
Tabula Rasa Symphonic Prog

Review by Eetu Pellonpaa
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars This mid-1970's Finnish prog release might be a nice record to check out for those listeners, who like Uriah Heep, Jethro Tull, and don't mind lyrics being sung in Finnish. The band was signed to Love Records, and thus got good changes at the local markets. The texts are quite good passionate writings of Mikko Alatalo, who has had a successful popular music career (not referring to my own tastes with this claim). The melancholic ballad "Gryf" is my favorite track from this record and also from the band, as I felt their following second album floating to core of boring mediocrity. The guitar player Heikki Silvennoinen is a really talented musician, and he has worked as a professional musician and as actor after his commitment to this group. A hopeful human touch elevates from this charming little album, which however did not stand the test of time for me, being seen to spin on the turntable really seldom.
 Tabula Rasa  by TABULA RASA album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.42 | 45 ratings

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Tabula Rasa
Tabula Rasa Symphonic Prog

Review by progressive

4 stars Weak 4. Folky pop, and prog. I really like the sound of Tabula Rasa, even the vocals - or i don't hate them too much. Lyrics are one thing that makes this band strong. Although I'm not religious. Maybe TR allows me to think it not religious, but more protestive. It is delightning to hear about naked proto-people, in Finnish. Happy but mellow atmosphere at the same time, made of constant strong melodies and rhytms, turbulent. However, I wish some progressivity more, but still am proud of the clearness. Sometimes this album fails to catch you, but the good pieces ARE worth listening,they are masterpieces in a strange way. Reminds me of Camel's short songs, but I think these are more compact, with good structure and purpose - poppy.(I'm not declining Camel).
 Ekkedien Tanssi  by TABULA RASA album cover Studio Album, 1976
2.84 | 41 ratings

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Ekkedien Tanssi
Tabula Rasa Symphonic Prog

Review by erik neuteboom
Prog Reviewer

3 stars I was a bit shocked by the low ratings from other reviewers, in my opinion this album is a fine progrock effort. It sounds more symphonic, due to the wider range of keyboards. The titletrack features more refined and flowing guitarwork, only the song "Kehto" delivers wah- wah drenched guitar play. I was delighted by the organ - and guitar duets like in "Uskollinen" and "Omantunnon rukuos". On this CD the hints are more from Camel, this is most obvious on the final composition "Saastu mun paa" featuring a wonderful and compelling guitar solo. By the way, I forget to mention that Jarno Sinisalo plays not only piano but also Urut, String-kone and Syntetisaattori ... , say no more!


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