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HAIKARA

Eclectic Prog • Finland


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Haikara biography
In English their names would be Stork and these Finns fly as high as one of those birds. This quintet made some of the best and most complex music from Scandinavian countries on their first two albums sometimes making you think of CRIMSON and TASAVALLAN PRESIDENTTI, but they sing in Finnish. Their third album was a private (self-produced) pressing affair that veered to a much heavier rock. Recently, two more albums have been released and the rumour has it that they are in the same vein although only their multi-instrumentalist leader Vesa Lattunen remains from the 70's line-up. Nevertheless their first two albums should be considered by progheads as minor classic and are likely to appeal to everyone concerned.

: : : Hugues Chantraine, BELGIUM : : :

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HAIKARA discography


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

4.15 | 102 ratings
Haikara
1972
3.74 | 35 ratings
Geafar
1973
2.69 | 10 ratings
Iso Lintu
1976
3.19 | 9 ratings
Haikara IV: Domino
1998
3.86 | 12 ratings
Tuhkamaa
2001

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

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

2.00 | 1 ratings
Poika Pilvellä
1976

HAIKARA Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Geafar by HAIKARA album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.74 | 35 ratings

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Geafar
Haikara Eclectic Prog

Review by Matti
Collaborator Neo-Prog Team

4 stars Both the debut and Geafar by HAIKARA are being re-released on vinyl by Svart Records. I had the honour to write the articles for them, and here's the one for Geafar in an abridged form (roughly 70%; buy the album to read the full version with further facts and anecdotes!). My rating would be 3½ stars if that option was there.

The international prestige of Haikara is mostly based on their eponymous debut album (1972), a unique, dark-toned and eclectic progressive rock masterpiece that has been compared to the music of King Crimson, Van Der Graaf Generator and Tasavallan Presidentti among others. The next album Geafar, released at the end of the following year, may not be as coherent as its predecessor, but it certainly continues the band's classic era and contains some of the finest moments in Finnish prog.

Around the time Haikara was released, the vocalist-lyricist Vesa Lehtinen departed to rejoin the reformed Charlies, the other of the vintage rock bands hailing from the Southern Finnish town of Lahti. In a sense this was a blow for Haikara but the band soldiered on. The composer and frontman Vesa Lattunen's somewhat mediocre singing found a much needed counterpart in his sister Auli, whose beautiful voice is present to varying degrees on Geafar. This time Lattunen also wrote the lyrics by himself.

The opening track 'Change' is a lively rocker with revolution-themed lyrics sung, unusually, in English. Vesa Lattunen's vocals sound rather shaky in it, probably on purpose though. The jam-like funkiness on the first two tracks is quite a departure from the dark and symphonic seriousness of the debut, which of course is not implying that it would be musically less accomplished. The second song (with a long title meaning "When You Go Far Enough to the Future, You'll Find Out You're in the Past") calms down around the sixth minute for a fascinating slower section featuring flutes and Auli's wordless vocals.

The brief and elegant 'Kantaatti' is practically an art music piece for piano, cello and wordless female voice. Lattunen, who had played double bass in the Lahti Town Orchestra, had witnessed a deep prejudice against rock music among the musicians on the classical side, which only stirred up his will to combine the two musical worlds in his own composing work.

'Laulu surullisesta pilvestä' (Song About a Sad Cloud) is another genre-fusing little piece with Auli's background vocalising and classical instruments accompanying Vesa's tender vocals and a rhythm section. But perhaps the best is saved for last: for those listeners who are hungry for epic and complex prog in the vein of Haikara's first album the 14-minute title track will be most rewarding. This time Auli Lattunen sings with lyrics, and the arrangement is very varied in this superb composition. The orchestral section with sharp trumpets reminds me of 'Salisbury' by Uriah Heep.

Some critics at the time blamed Geafar for being too introverted and uneven. From today's perspective it can be said that the closer one listens to this album, free of prejudices and expectations, the better it sounds in its own right.

The morbidly surreal cover art of Geafar, strongly influenced by Salvador Dalí, was again painted by the band's drummer Markus Heikkerö. It's worth noticing that Haikara also had another member keen on visual expression: the reeds player Harri Pystynen withdrew from music due to stage fright in 1985 and became a cartoon artist until his death in 1990.

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 Haikara IV: Domino by HAIKARA album cover Studio Album, 1998
3.19 | 9 ratings

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Haikara IV: Domino
Haikara Eclectic Prog

Review by Matti
Collaborator Neo-Prog Team

4 stars Just one non-collaborator 2-star review for this comeback album of HAIKARA? No, it's not a great album but definitely deserves more than that. First it must be pointed out that comparing it to the classic stuff from the early 70's won't do it justice. The overall atmosphere is quite warm, calm and harmless, whereas the vintage Haikara is notably darker and perhaps more challenging on the listener's behalf. The Finnish prog output was at this time still very sparse, so it must have been a nice surprise to see the classic 70's acts making their returns to the scene, though with somewhat mild results (and this goes to Wigwam and Pressa as well).

Promisingly only two tracks of six are of the modest 3-minute length (the others from 7½ to nearly 13 minutes), and pleasantly the album is instrumentally oriented. The sparse vocals are by Vesa Lattunen and the reeds player Jan Schaper. The opener 'Polku' (= a path) gives a good example of the album's strengths and weaknesses. The mellow sound is reminiscent of the seventies, wich isn't a bad thing, but the mixing is not very succesful. Soprano sax and acoustic guitar dominate, while the keyboards are almost buried and the production is a bit thin. Also the friendly mid-tempo dominating throughout the album may make it rather boring and disappointing to some prog listeners. On the other hand it's fairly pleasant from start to end. The compositions are melodic, extended with long instrumental sections.

'Ykseys' (12:43) is the most progressive and lively track, slightly marred by Lattunen's weak vocals. The interplay between sax and guitar is good. 'Lady' is a beautiful, sensitive instrumental track starring acoustic guitar and recorder, having thus a Medieval flavour (compare GRYPHON). 'Gloria Deo' starts with a Gregorian-like a cappella choir in Latin, replaced soon by a rock combo; the rest of the 9½-minute track is instrumental and among the highlights. The section with a flute may bring CAMEL in mind. The brief closing track 'Kultamalja'(= a cup of gold) is a very delicate acoustic song. I like it.

To some this never would be worth four stars but IMHO the strengths and the pleasant features overcome its weaknesses. Not a masterpiece on any level but a nice, warm and sincere album of melodic, instrumentally oriented prog. 3½ stars rounded up.

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 Poika Pilvellä by HAIKARA album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1976
2.00 | 1 ratings

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Poika Pilvellä
Haikara Eclectic Prog

Review by Matti
Collaborator Neo-Prog Team

— First review of this album —
2 stars HAIKARA may be the third most respected (following WIGWAM and TASAVALLAN PRESIDENTTI) of the bands in the classic Finnish Prog era. The respect is based mostly on the eponymous debut (1972) and the slightly more uneven Geafar (1974). The third album - and the final one, until the band's comeback in the 90's - called Iso lintu (1975) contains a strikingly uneven bunch of short tracks, though some of them still quite beautiful fusings of rock/pop and Art Music elements.

Each of the three albums were recorded with a different line-up, and this single marked yet another version of Haikara, which was always led by the late great Vesa Lattunen, a multi-instrumental composer. After this release Lattunen participated in various music projects - for solo artists, theatres, etc. These two songs have appeared as bonuses on the CD release of Geafar, and I'm sure most prog listeners will see them more as curiosities and items of completionism than as a source of deep artistic enjoyment. There even was inconsistence about the track title on the original single: "Poika Pilvellä" ("A boy on a cloud") and "Pilven poika" ("The boy of the cloud"). The latter seems to be the official one.

Probably it was an attempt to play more popular and catchier music at the time when prog was rapidly and completely out of fashion in Finland. This is pretty funky stuff. Technically 'Pilven poika' is a relatively well-creafted, lighthearted track with a colourful arrangement, but the composition per se is rather poor and monotonous, and Vesa Lattunen was never a good vocalist. The song sounds terribly outdated today.

'Jumbo' is a tight and groovy instrumental and works much better. It's not the most original slice of funk music but nothing in it feels disjointed as on 'Pilven poika'. Anyway, on a prog site it would be a bit inappropriate to rate this single higher than two stars.

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 Iso Lintu by HAIKARA album cover Studio Album, 1976
2.69 | 10 ratings

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Iso Lintu
Haikara Eclectic Prog

Review by Matti
Collaborator Neo-Prog Team

3 stars The highly acclaimed Finnish prog group HAIKARA confronted the dilemma between artistic ambitions and commercial demands, when their 2nd album Geafar (1974) didn't sell well enough to please the record company. Left without a deal, they found a new opportunity after Vesa Lattunen had made arrangements for Jukka Kuoppamäki's album. The popular singer had his own record company, Satsanga Records. Iso Lintu was recorded in March 1975 with a new vocalist, Matti Heinänen, in the line-up. The album received mixed feelings at the time, and basically that hasn't changed in nearly 40 years.

'Hotellinainen' (Hotel woman) sounds nearly terrible: hard and gritty, riff-based rock finished with bad vocals and noisy saxes. 'Kuinka ollakaan' is also rather straight-forward rock song, but the brief orchestration, flute and an instrumental part make it very interesting. In under five minutes (still the longest track of the album) it's extremely economic prog! Actually, nearly half of the songs are less than three minutes; the total length is about 31 minutes. 'Romanssi' is a melancholic and romantic nocturnal song with a very elegant arrangement, especially various wind instruments are put in excellent use. Beautiful, classically influenced prog!

'2+2=5' may also have a nice arrangement, but the repetition of "kaksi ynnä kaksi on viisi!" is irritating. I'm not sure whether I like 'Leppäkerttu' (Lady Bug) or not. It has some prog rock feel in a naiive, tight song structure. 'Golgata' I definitely don't like as a whole, which is a pity since it contains some very nice details within three minutes. Maybe the vocals make it bad to my ears.

'Für Hanna' is a tiny pretty art music piece, or at least an attempt to be one; the percussion is not credible at all, but so what, this is a rock album anyway. 'Aamu' is a beautiful highlight the same way as 'Romanssi', and the final song 'Jäähyväiset' (Farewell) is perhaps the album's finest fusion of art music and pop music elements. So, this album is indeed very uneven. It includes beautiful stuff for a measure of an EP / mini-album.

As bonuses in the 2013 CD release one gets all four songs (by Vesa Lattunen & Company) of the 1979 EP called Lauluja Dylanilta (Songs by [Bob] Dylan). Wasn't 'Mighty Quinn' covered by Manfred Mann? The synths in this translation sound very Mannish. 'All Along the Watchtower' has seen numerous covers from Hendrix to Affinity etc, but it has never been among my personal Dylan favourites, despite its intensity. Lattunen & Co. do a decent job musically, but the vocals are quite bad, maybe the translation as well. 'North Country Blues' was not a familiar song to me. Here its good translation is sung by Liisa Lampi - why I haven't heard of her before? An excellent folk performance à la Joan Baez! 'When the Ship Comes In' was neither familiar. As a song it resembles 'Times They Are A-Changin' and this version featuring both male and female vocals makes me remember The Seekers.

The fifth bonus track 'Janne' was Lattunen's composition for a yearly Finnish song contest (Syksyn Sävel) in 1980. It's about Jean Sibelius, whose Finlandia hymn is also cited in the music. This song may be a bit kitchy cross-over entertainment music, but quite charming! With these bonuses Iso Lintu is without a doubt worth three stars.

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 Haikara by HAIKARA album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.15 | 102 ratings

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Haikara
Haikara Eclectic Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars With influences from jazz fusion and Finnish folk leaking in around the edges, this is a confident debut from Finnish prog outfit Haikara. Incorporating more brass instruments than is typical for prog, thanks to their six-musician brass section, Haikara don't shy away from unusual instruments - even vocalist Vesa Lehtinen is credited with tamburine, cow bell, and "Eberhard Faber 1146 No. 2" (the latter being a make of pencil!) - and they use this range of instrumentation to create a rich and unpredictable sound. A competent album which despite coming out at the peak of prog's popularity doesn't seem to have got much attention outside of Finland, which is a bit of a shame, but at the same time don't expect a lost classic primed to set your very conception of prog on fire on listening - this is decent but not exceptional.

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 Iso Lintu by HAIKARA album cover Studio Album, 1976
2.69 | 10 ratings

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Iso Lintu
Haikara Eclectic Prog

Review by DrömmarenAdrian

4 stars Haikara is a quite famous Finnish band which first and second records have gained a lot of appreciation. This third record though seems to be forgotten. It has an ugly cover, low rating and it's perhaps impossible to get outside Finland, I don't know. Well I saw it on Spotify and couldn't resist listen to it.

"Iso lintu" is Haikara's third record and it was released in 1976. The cover is very special. I wrote it was ugly but it's also quite unique. Please study the picture at least! They look very nice in their white dresses.

I loved this music, that is my statement of this. Even if the song format is short I am not doubting about say this is prog. The instrumentation is very good and Haikara uses different instruments in a very professional way. Actually there is no weak moments here. The Finnish language is allways different but I think it works perfectly here and gives the music a national feel that is necessery to make music real. The record is also varied, from the comical "Hotellinainen" (with a Beatles-noise), to a prog pop song in "Leppäkerttu" and a medieval tune (à la Gryphon) in "Für Hanna". "Leppäkerttu" is so joyful and there is som much vital joy here. Especially the wind instruments adds perfection to this music. In "Romanssi" the sweet melody reminds me very much of The Web's "War and Piece-suite". Listen to both, Web's song is a masterpiece and Haikara's very good.

Perhaps the vocals could have been little more professional and they could have made longer, even more interesting songs. That doesn't make this worse. Yes I admit I haven't heard earlier Haikara. Is it a crime? I'll se when I hear them. This is a recommended record!

All songs: Für Hanna(10/10), Kuinka ollakaan(8/10), Romanssi(8/10), Leppäkerttu(8/10), Golgata(8/10), Hotellinainen(7/10), 2+2=5(7/10), Aamu(7/10) and Jäähyväiset(7/10)

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 Haikara by HAIKARA album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.15 | 102 ratings

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Haikara
Haikara Eclectic Prog

Review by Guldbamsen
Prog Reviewer Retired Admin

5 stars Haikara = Stork

Quirky, jumpy, reed tooting, galloping, relentless, adventurous, melodic and everything at once, Haikara's debut is quite the amalgamation of differentiating sounds. I've always considered it as a close cousin to the more out there Canterbury groups like National Health and Picchio dal Pozzo, yet with all kinds of Zappaesque irreverence to it, and an unhinged musical joy that literally flies through your speakers, this album is anything but a scarecrow made up of various leftovers from other acts. Hell, it's from 1972, which rules out any association with the two aforementioned Canterbury acts...

The moods range from late 60s melodic psychedelia like the ones emanating from the first cut, Köyhän pojan kerjäys, to more perilous action packed whirlwind fusion, which again performs in parts of the first track. As a matter of fact, all of what Haikara stands for, including a passionate crooked take on Northern folk music, is enveloped in this astonishing opener. What then strikes me a little odd, is that the rest of the album almost entirely consists of the same haphazardly thrown together themes, yet without ever sounding remotely the same. With saxes, flutes, cowbells, triangles, guitars, organs and a rhythm section with magma up it's bunghole, you sense a frenetic, almost squirrely energy pumping through Haikara. Like wild rodents set on fire pacing around the studio with a song on their lips.

I had this album playing here the other day while I was fixing dinner. I'd opened up all the windows to clear out the stale and stagnant air that accumulates whenever I've been away for a couple of days. As a result of this, the fragrant smell of spices like cumin, chilli and garlic invaded the sidewalk together with this music, having people stop dead in their tracks - looking directly in my window, as if to see what kind of strange entity was producing this exotic mix of Eastern flavours and fiery pseudo jazz rock. One girl went so far as to say, that she thought I was an imminent cook, but a rather sad dj - to which I replied: 'Well honey, you know - the music often goes hand in hand with what's being served on the table. You would be surprised to learn what tricky, labyrinthian and bonkers music some of the great chefs listen to.'

I was obviously joking a bit, but there's some truth in that statement. I think this kind of unique galloping cornucopia of rock, with all of it's bombastic reed sprints and saucy psychedelics, wreck havoc on your senses - in just about the right manner for you to be able to feel inspired, chuck full of energy and pure unadulterated geist! It's the exact same mood you want to achieve, when you're headed for the kitchen methinks.

Anyway, enough with the cooking! Aside from these two purveyors of sound, the furious fusion and the jello sheen of shrooms, you additionally get these magnificent crystallised folk segments to boot. With a flirtatious flute, or some abstract guitar strummings the feel of the music will turn on a dime, and suddenly tumble jittery into the most peculiar Northern folk music, you're ever likely to come across. Often this facet comes on during the more rocking sections, and the direction of the tune fiercely changes it's intentions and swoops you down the mountainside with surreal images from the beautiful cover art with elk, dragon and that eerie naked human body looking like it's on the verge of giving birth.

To top it all off all of the vocals are in Finnish. They're mighty jolly and carefree, often playing on that ever so theatrical side of the great Peter Hammill. Even if they don't sound alike, you'll find a common fondness for the grandiose and bewitching, no doubt.

This is perhaps the greatest progressive rock recording ever to come out of Finland, and I see no difficulty in recommending it to the folks on this site. Whatever shortcomings one may face with the impossible Finnish lingo, are made up for a gazillion times by the sheer force of lavish musical sorcery surrounding it. This album is mesmerising in every way conceivable - like the very cover it hides underneath. No wonder they named the group after the be-winged majestic presence of the stork.

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 Tuhkamaa by HAIKARA album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.86 | 12 ratings

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Tuhkamaa
Haikara Eclectic Prog

Review by ScorchedFirth

4 stars (7/10)

For better or worse, each Haikara album has seen something new in the sound. In this case, much better. On Haikara's previous album "Haikara IV: Domino", there was one track, "Gloria Deo", that stood out amongst the others, with a darker heavier sound, similar to 70s King Crimson (in particular, the albums "Larks' Tongues In Aspic" "Starless And Bible Black" and "Red"). Haikara take this sound and develop it further on their fifth album, "Tuhkamaa" (which appropriately seems to translate as "Ash Land" in English).

To help with this development of sound, there are some key musical changes. The guitar is harsher, and is spitting out Frippish riffs, often in odd time signatures. Over the top of this we often have the saxophone screeching menacingly, gone completely are the smooth jazz approaches of "Haikara IV: Domino", replaced with aggression, and a dark intent. Realising that the vocals are not really the key to the music here, they are used sparingly, but effectively. In fact, 4 of the 8 tracks here are instrumentals. The final big change is that cello has also entered the sound, replacing Jan Schaper's recorders, and played intelligently by Hannu Kivilä. It is used to often create a mellow or sombre tone as well as excitement, when required.

The result of this is a heavier, fuller, and more compelling album than any Haikara has released since their excellent debut, concentrating mostly on tight, and darker pieces. This is probably their most aggressive album to date. The drums are often pounding, the sax is now being used powerfully. Much of Haikara's most memorable material is on this album.

The "Tuhkamaa - Intro" gives us a very brief taste of what is to come, so it is really "Kosovo" where things get started, the building pulse of cello with the saxophone over the top immediately showcasing the richer instrumental side that Haikara have created. The march of the drum in the background makes the song feel purposeful, and thus this is a good opener.

"Valtakunta" sees the band further utilising the excellent interplay of cello and saxophone. Whilst it is probably normally the saxophone that takes the lead, the cello can often play this role, and the way they play off each other is one of the more compelling elements of the album. "Valtakunta" also gives us the first vocals, which are done competently. Not fireworks, they more match to the tone of the song. There is again more than one singer, and we do get some enjoyable harmonies.

"Harlekiini" opens with footsteps then organ, in a quite odd manner. Somehow it gives the impression of a creepy abandoned fairground. After this, there is a menacing 6/8 riff with sax slithering around over the top in a slightly bluesy, slightly jazzy way. Very enjoyable. It leads straight into the next track, "Klovni". It opens with dark, low, but full vocals. I am enjoying the Finnish intonation again, and it's worth emphasising how it can often give a band it's own character to be singing in their native language. Later, sax melodies really come to the fore in this mellow setting, they sit on top of the cello really well.

Next up is the title track, "Tuhkamaa", the longest of the album, which starts with a reprise of the theme from the introduction. This is where we start to see some really classic Haikara. It starts with just vocals, cello and a minimal acoustic accompaniment, but in the great Haikara tradition, there are number of good and effectively contrasting parts. What's really great about this song though, is how well it flows through all of this, and still manages to retain a solemn tone throughout.

"Hymni" is another really great song. There are some really pounding rhythms for the sax to screech over, and some parts sound really dramatic. This is probably one of the most eclectic songs of the album, opening with some classical sounding organ, moving through some of the heavier guitar and saxophone parts, to a sitar solo. By the end, there is a swirl of duelling instruments (including the sitar). There is a real variety of sound to this song that makes it highly appealing.

The album closes with "Oodi", which is a bit different to the rest of the songs. It is the only track that I would call vocal dominated, in this case with melodic female vocals. It is a bit more upbeat than the rest of the album, which is probably why it was chosen as the last song, with sax and vocals sometimes entwining melodically.

"Tuhkamaa" is an excellent album, with good things in each track. It flows very naturally, and feels like a really cohesive effort, and definitely needs to be heard as such. Sadly, it seems this is the last we have seen of Haikara. Tragedy struck in March 2005 with the sudden death of band leader Vesa Lattunen, making this release an unexpectedly poignant swansong. Perhaps one day his music will get the more widespread recognition it deserves.

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 Haikara IV: Domino by HAIKARA album cover Studio Album, 1998
3.19 | 9 ratings

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Haikara IV: Domino
Haikara Eclectic Prog

Review by ScorchedFirth

2 stars (5/10)

Haikara's 1998 release, "Haikara IV: Domino", was the first from the band in 22 years. Only Vesa Lattunen remains from the original lineup. I went into this with no idea of what I was about to hear (I did not find any reviews). I thought the first Haikara album was excellent, the second was reasonable, and the third was awful. I went in with no real expectations. Where, I wondered, would Lattunen take Haikara now that he had more control again? It turns out, something new.

The first half of the album ("Polku", "Portti" and "Ykseys") takes a soft approach. The guitar is now mostly acoustic, and the saxophone takes an almost smooth jazz approach at times, flowing rather than blasting. It works okay, but I'm left wondering why Kenny G is playing in Haikara? Truth be told these 3 tracks are a little dull, and samey. Well, maybe that's not entirely fair. It can get a bit more exciting/rocky at times, which the saxophone partially matches, though it can also stray into some cheesy territory at times. There are some pleasant melodies, but not much more than that, definitely no drama or bombast.

The second half ("Lady", "Gloria Deo" and "Kultamalja") is much better. There are also some new sounds, the 'monk choir' on "Gloria Deo" for example. Interestingly, Lattunen claims that the choir came to him in a dream. "Gloria Deo" is easily the most exciting track of the album; darker/heavier and more electric guitar driven than anything else on the record. The ominous choir opens the track, and caught me off guard the first time I listened to the album, then we are into the main electric guitar 5/8 riff, injecting a bit of heaviness. The saxophone comes in with a bit of menace over the top, the whole thing has the same dark feeling the first album had! The drums offer some intent as well, at times, and work well with the excellent slightly Frippish guitar over the heavy bass near the end. Personally, I wish I could have heard more from the choir, but even so, this one is really good. There is a real King Crimson vibe to it, more so than any other Haikara song.

Haikara have often had the knack of writing short but effective beautiful little songs. "Polku" doesn't quite live up to this, with its soft recorder tones, but the album closer "Kultamalja" very much does. The acoustic guitar is back to play us out, and the delicate vocals work well. The song end up feeling like a sad lullaby, with a very melancholic slow beauty to it.

Mostly worth checking out for Haikara fans, mainly for the excellent "Gloria Deo", and perhaps "Kultamalja" also.

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 Iso Lintu by HAIKARA album cover Studio Album, 1976
2.69 | 10 ratings

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Iso Lintu
Haikara Eclectic Prog

Review by ScorchedFirth

1 stars (2/10)

First to second album was somewhat of a change for Haikara, but second to third was a drastic change. The band is now almost entirely removed from the music of their excellent debut. This is strange, because a lot of things are the same. The cover art is still weird, the instruments are the same, the vocals are still in Finnish, the flute and saxophone are still around, and the guitar is just the same. We even keep nearly the same lineup from "Geafar" (with the only change being that Matti Heinänen comes in to replace Auli Lattunenno on vocals). But "Iso Lintu" is very different to the first two albums, and I'm afraid it's a turn for the worse.

The album is composed of much shorter, and much more simplistic songs, none breaking the 5 min mark. The album itself only comes in at about 29 min! The band was with a record company that wanted short catchy singles (see the bonus tracks also) and were having to make a lot of compromises. Actually, some of the members of the band were pushing in this direction too, which is probably why they subsequently broke up and went on a 22 year hiatus (Vesa Lattunen would return in 1998 to reform the band). In fact, Lattunen himself says "The main reason was that the drummer and the bass player wanted to play more commercial music to make more money". That's not to say short songs or albums are a problem (think Gentle Giant), but in this case, the album is short because the songs are very basic, and there isn't much to them.

Some songs that did catch my attention though. "Romanssi" is a more measured piece, with a slightly more mellow mood in line with Haikara's previous albums. In fact, "Romanssi" is a part of their composition for group and symphony orchestra "Kuutamo", that will hopefully one day see the light of day. "Für Hanna" is a neat little instrumental track that I enjoy for its delicate flute sounds. "Kuinka Ollakaan" also provides a bit of an early-Tull vibe, with the hard guitar, and slightly dirty flute. These are all rather belated highlights though. A handful of other tracks also achieve this same kind of style, but nothing else is particularly good, they just come off more as mild and unremarkable rather than elegant or energetic.

Songs like "Hotellinainen" and the (arithmetically problematic) short track "2+2=5" are completely not prog. The former is a hard rock 'repeat-the-name-of-the-song-to-form-the-chorus' piece, and the latter sounds exactly like if The Kinks had sung in Finnish. That sort of music has it's place, but it is not in a prog rock collection. Looking at the English names of the songs (e.g. "The Hotel Woman") it also seems like this time it probably isn't worth searching for a translation of the lyrics. The vocals are pretty forgettable for the most part anyway.

What we are left with is a band where the ambition is mostly gone, and much of the music is not even that progressive. A lot of this is just verse/chorus/verse fare, with nothing to mark it out but the embellishments of flute, sax and occasional strings. The guitar has got very standard too. Being short is a saving grace of the album. It is often boring, but I wasn't bored to death, only because it is over very quickly. This is not a good compliment to be given. Perhaps this is not a tedious experience, but the album does not really stand up at all to repeated listens. Don't waste you time on "Iso Lintu".

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