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PEKKA STRENG

Prog Folk • Finland


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Pekka Streng biography
PEKKA STRENG (26.4.1948 - 11.4.1975) was both a mystic and a tragic character, being a pioneer of the small scene of Finnish psychedelic folk music. At late 1960's he participated in activities of The University Student Theatre, and he also did some radio plays which made so good impression to the staff at YLE (Finnish Radio Broadcast co.), that he was recommended to Otto Donner, who invited Pekka to do recordings for the famous Love Records label. On these albums along with the help famous Finnish musicians Pekka sings and plays acoustic guitar, and also all of the songs and lyrics on these records are written by him.

His first record "Magneettimiehen Kuolema" ("The Death of A Magnet Man", 1970) was done with the famous prog band TASAVALLAN PRESIDENTTI. This album holds themes of oriental philosophies and religions, and the most famous track on it is the song "Sisältäni Portin Löysin" ("I Found a Gate Within Myself"), which describes poetically the process of consciousness expansion, and it has also been performed by many other famous Finnish artists. There are also other interesting tunes on it, like euphoric "Gilgamesh", "Olen Erilainen" ("I'm Different") and "Pitkä Kieli" ("Long Tongue").

The second album "Kesämaa" ("Summerland", 1970) was done with another league of famous Finnish musicians featuring Olli Ahvenlahti, Eero Koivistoinen, Hasse Walli and Pekka Pöyry. The overall feeling of the records is a bit more warm-hearted and clearer than it's more psychedelic predecessor, but it too has fine artistic and surreal elements in it. Also along with Pekka's poems there are also some texts of other authors there, like TOVE JANSSON.

Sadly during his military service at 1967 Pekka had got a cancer, and the awareness of his dangerous illness surely affected his artistic career. He died at the age of 26 leaving behind only two finished albums and plans for the third album, which never got recorded. There was a memorial concert held for both Pekka and Matti Kurkinen (member of band KALEVALA who died at same year) at Kulttuuritalo, with performers like Jukka Tolonen, Rock'n'Roll Band, Albert Järvinen and KALEVALA.

Though Pekka was never an extremely popular artist, he has a strong cult status, his records have been selling in a constant flow, and there are some neat remastered CD's of his albums on the markets. Though he had fans during his lifetime, he was never interested of publicity, and he gave only one interview, which was p...
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Magneettimiehen KuolemaMagneettimiehen Kuolema
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KesamaaKesamaa
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PEKKA STRENG discography


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

3.28 | 9 ratings
Magneettimiehen Kuolema
1970
3.38 | 8 ratings
Kesämaa
1972
3.00 | 1 ratings
Unen Maa
2009

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

PEKKA STRENG Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

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

3.00 | 1 ratings
Magneettimiehen Kuolema / Kesämaa
1990

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

0.00 | 0 ratings
Puutarhassa
2001

PEKKA STRENG Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Kesämaa by STRENG, PEKKA album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.38 | 8 ratings

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Kesämaa
Pekka Streng Prog Folk

Review by Guldbamsen
Forum & Site Admin Group Site and Forum Admin

3 stars The Ultimate Picnic Soundtrack

Pekka Streng is somewhat of a cult persona in Finland - a man who only got to experience 26 years of life due to an untimely meeting with cancer. As I understand it, he learned of his illness whilst serving in the military in 1967. Surely such a devastating blow must have carved itself into the very soul of the man, and just by reading some of the lyrics off of his albums, you get the impression of a bright young lad with loads of potential - both as a songwriter but also as a poet. Nobody should be faced with news like that at such an early stage of their life. I think it coloured his views - made him look inwards, upwards, downwards and ultimately made him think about all the stuff we take for granted and view as ordinary casual day to day stuffing. Merely reading one of his songs will hopefully reveal to you that there is far more to the world than just stuffing.

This album is his swansong and quite a stones throw away from his debut. Leaving the sumptuous psychedelic feel of it behind, now focusing on music that backs up the words and the ideas - Kesämaa sounds much more like a full fledged folk rock album - taken directly from a Finnish field with long grasses and a natural open feel to the mix.

The tunes are lead by Pekka's own acoustic guitar playing that is as intimate as it is melodic. A lot of the time he utilises a beautiful picking technique, which I have come to adore immensely. Often accompanied by floating organs and sparsely used percussion(though on occasion we get treated to a drum kit), delivering a heartfelt and sincere expression to the music, - It truly sounds like it was made for you - in that moment. Additionally you'll pick up sudden alternative instrumentations that from time to time pop up in the music - kindly conveyed by mellow reeds, piano, synths or the heavenly celesta. It all sounds very 60s like on account of the slowly moving guitars and his quivering vocals. These wander freely, and really do benefit from being slightly untrained and naive in their delivery. He never sings out of tune though, but the way they come across is like a man simultaneously talking and singing to himself whilst contemplating the secret life of the blue whale. He has this mystical veil pulled over his music - much credited to his voice, - and admittedly because this listener always have had some difficulties with the Finnish lingo. No matter, because this is music, that at the same time as being a singer-song writer's dream concoction - still resonates as something that you can feel, enjoy and perhaps even understand. Music is universal in many ways - and it doesn't take a linguist to tell you about the lethargic and sorrow-filled moments of this album, nor do you need a therapist to explain to you just how much hurt and pain Pekka must have crossed and fought through to have been able to materialise these songs onto an album. Don't worry Pekka - I feel you baby!

People with a taste for Bert Jansch, Roy Harper, Perry Leopold and other beatnik musicians that kept revitalising the 60s - even when they had died out and were but memories - you my dears will love this little outing like a small puppy. 3.5 stars.

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 Unen Maa by STRENG, PEKKA album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.00 | 1 ratings

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Unen Maa
Pekka Streng Prog Folk

Review by Matti
Collaborator Neo-Prog Team

— First review of this album —
3 stars Pekka Streng was for many years aware that he would not live long because of his disease. He walked into the record company as a more or less unknown chap with his demos and told that he wanted to make an album, already knowing the short future prediction. Love Records thus found one of their most unique artists and in the years 1970 and 1972 they released Streng's two albums. Several years followed but the third album never materialized even though he kept making demos.

Until in this millennium his son Joonia decided after years of hard thinking, that these tapes do have so much to say that it would be wrong not to bring the best of them to the listeners, even if the result could not be exactly like Pekka himself would have made it. Those demo tapes featuring Pekka alone (voice and acoustic guitar) are far from superb in the sound quality - and actually that feature kept me sceptical about this album for over a year until I finally borrowed it - but in the end it doesn't matter so much. There's no question whether this album deseved to be done. Certainly it did. And it is first and foremost HIS album.

It was mostly in the hands of Jukka Hakoköngäs how to arrange songs for a full group that was named as Olympia Orkesteri (featuring top musicians such as saxophonist Jukka Perko and guitarist Timo Kämäräinen; Hakoköngas is a multi-instrumentalist concentrating on keyboards). He's done a fine job in most cases. Some short solo performances are left more or less as they are, and these I find the weak part of the work. Hey, actually there's an album of slightly similar history: Jim Morrison's American Prayer which was musically realized by The Doors. But really these two albums are not very comparable. First, Jim's spoken word performances were of high artistic and sound quality on their own, and the band was the same as it had been. As I was saying, a large deal of Unen maa needs to be listened as poetry more than as music. I myself have always enjoyed Streng's original albums as music and maybe given less emphasis on the poetic side, so I find these demo-like tracks rather dull.

But some definitive highlights raise from the album already in the first listening. 'Suruperhonen' (Butterfly of Sorrow) and 'Sinä aamuna' (On That Morning) are very beautiful and deeply touching, both as music and as poetry, which reflect the arriving farewell from the world. No, the whole album is not sad or melancholic or even introvert in lyrics. But these two saddest songs I love the best.

The album remains quite short (37 minutes or so) and musically it is not as fully materialized as I wished, but still: thank you for giving this album to all of us. R.I.P.

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 Kesämaa by STRENG, PEKKA album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.38 | 8 ratings

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Kesämaa
Pekka Streng Prog Folk

Review by ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator Prog Folk Researcher

3 stars In my mind at least, the life and music of the late Pekka Streng draws inevitable parallels to that of the late Nick Drake, although admittedly there are important differences in both their personalities and musical styles.

Like Drake, Streng was a post-WWI child who passed at much too early an age; in fact, both were born and died within months of each other. Drake left behind three studio releases to Streng’s two, although there was a compilation of Streng’s unreleased material issued long after his passing. Both were very private individuals who left behind very little beyond their music; neither were public figures that toured much or gave many interviews. Each was essentially a folk singer-songwriter who favored guitar, although both were multi- instrumentalists (Drake was first a piano and clarinet player, and Streng dabbled with synthesizers and various percussive instruments). And both became something of cult figures long after their deaths, achieving influence in their respective countries on generations of young musicians who succeeded them.

Musically the two were quite different though. While Drake would emphatically favor stark acoustic arrangements throughout his short career, Streng was seemingly happy to experiment with electric guitar, brass and other accompaniment, especially on this, his final studio release. Streng seemed to have a wide group of acquaintances to call on for support of this record, while Drake relied almost exclusively on himself and whatever studio support that was effectively forced on him by his producer and mentor, the American Joe Boyd. Streng would succumb to cancer, while Drake’s tragic end was due to a self-inflicted overdose, although to this day no one seems to know for sure whether it was intentional or not.

And on that note, Streng’s music, while as delicate and introspective as Drake’s, does not project the kind of austere world-view or depression that permeated virtually everything Drake ever recorded.

The songs on this album are all quite short, sung in Finnish as far as I know (certainly not English anyway). At times Streng seems to show an interest in experimentation, sometimes with poetic spoken-word passages such as on “Auringon lapsi”; elsewhere with grand and heavy celesta such as on “Kanttorinpoika Max” and several of the early tracks on the album; and sometimes with simple acoustic picking and plaintive vocals as with “Katsele yössä” and “Mutta minä lähden”. Most of the songs are subdued but not necessarily sad; Streng seemed more interested in layering various instrumental sounds for effect than in projecting s barren world view. And at times he manages to blend his unique brand of folk with borderline pop, particularly on “...Ja Tuittu Ruusut Sai” and the almost lounge-like “Puutarhassa”.

I’m told the lyrics are quite deep and poetic, although unfortunately without knowing the language that aspect of his music will be lost on many listeners. But no matter, this is a very pleasant album to listen to even if the various song meanings are unclear. Pekka Streng will be very much an acquired taste for many, but for those interested in the bright, impassioned new generation folk singers of the early seventies this album should be considered essential. I’m tempted to give it a four star rating, but from a progressive viewpoint it doesn’t quite merit that. Three stars seems too low somehow, but that’s the most appropriate rating when Streng’s music is considered in total. Well recommended to students of progressive folk music, and particularly to those of Finnish persuasion as I suspect Pekka Streng was more than a passing influence on the folk-based artists of his homeland who came after.

peace

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 Magneettimiehen Kuolema / Kesämaa by STRENG, PEKKA album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1990
3.00 | 1 ratings

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Magneettimiehen Kuolema / Kesämaa
Pekka Streng Prog Folk

Review by Matti
Collaborator Neo-Prog Team

— First review of this album —
3 stars I have reviewed Kesämaa already and now I concentrate on the first half of this 2-in-1 disc ('Death of a Magnetic Man' means the album title, and the leaflet has a strange little prose- poem piece about the phases of the protagonist). As I have said, I prefer the more happy and jazzy Kesämaa. Relistening yesterday guaranteed me of that. It's not just that it's more easy to get into, it's also much better done, both musically and lyrically. Here things are rougher, more sketch-like, as Pekka is adventurously wandering in the strange marshlands of psychedelia. The tracks are not that short (even with 13 tracks Kesämaa clocks at 32 min. approx.); as if on this debut album the same (or maybe lesser) amount of substance is spread over a longer time. For example lyrics are used very sparingly and include a lot of fillerlines ("na-naa-na-naa-aah") and the players aren't given clear soli as on Kesämaa. That gives this album a sort of "where are we going?" feeling. But as Pekka WAS a pioneer in this field in Finland, that isn't so bad thing at all.

'Gilgames' is a peaceful acoustic opener based on the ancient narrative. That and 'A Song About an Insect That Fell Asleep in the Bed of Rose' would fit perfectly into the latter album too. And why not also the serene closer, 'Sisältäni portin löysin' (I Found a Gate Inside Me) - better known as a TASAVALLAN PRESIDENTTI number. The rest is more far-out psychedelic folk-rock stuff with peculiar lyrics, here and there even slightly disturbing. "I am different", "I am an animal" and "I am tired" are three titles' meanings. On one song he invites everybody to join him on a gigantic tongue, on another he floats on the mythical river of life and death or something like that. In all its charming aura it tends to get a bit tiring towards the end (and when my CD starts playing Kesämaa I'm much happier). But nevertheless, a definite classic in Finnish popular music.

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 Kesämaa by STRENG, PEKKA album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.38 | 8 ratings

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Kesämaa
Pekka Streng Prog Folk

Review by Matti
Collaborator Neo-Prog Team

4 stars Though Magneettimiehen kuolema seems to be more famous - due to Tasavallan Presidentti playing on it? -, both of Pekka Streng's albums are very interesting works mixing psychedelic pop and jazz rock. In that sense they are a perfect example of the innovative, fruitful period of the early 70's LOVE RECORDS; the top class jazz instrumentalists grace also this album, such as Pekka Pöyry (fl), Eero Koivistoinen (sax) and Olli Ahvenlahti (keyb). I have the cd containing both albums, but I think this one is more dear to me. Less dark and psychedelic and closer to children's music (I mean GOOD, artistic children's music!). For example 'Mimosaneito' and 'Ja Tuittu ruusut sai' (the latter based on Tove Jansson's text) could be used as lullabies, and 'Auringon lapsi' (The Children of the Sun) shows Streng's close relationship to a child's world. Overall the lyrics are beautifully naiive, romantic and mysterious. Here's a rough translation of 'Serenadi':

"You're a flight of a swallow / you're a cloud up high / you're a warm rain / You're the scent of freedom / you're the key of fairy tales / you're the bridge of dreams".

'Perhonen' (Butterfly) and 'Puutarhassa' (In the Garden) are lively jazzy songs with faster tempo. 'Kanttorinpoika Max' is lyrically the darkest, narrating of an organist's son chained to an organ in the cellar. But it's not too gloomy, not at all out of place amidst lighter and laid- back little tunes. Maybe my favourite song is 'Annabella', a slow-tempoed, romantic little tale of a nightly meeting. It has a lovely flute playing. If this all appeals to your tastes, I warmly recommend to find the cd containing both albums. Only, I don't know how marketable this is to non-Finnish listeners. It would help to print lyric translations because the music and lyrics intertwine in an unseparable way. Rest In Peace, Pekka Streng.

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 Magneettimiehen Kuolema by STRENG, PEKKA album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.28 | 9 ratings

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Magneettimiehen Kuolema
Pekka Streng Prog Folk

Review by Lambert

3 stars This album is not a Tasavallan Presidentti-album. It should be Pekka Streng with Tasavallan Presidentti. The music could be described as psychedelic folk. Lyrics play an important role here so recommending this album to non-finnish person is a bit questonable. However this is an important album in Finnish rock-history.

Pekka Streng was a quiet, mystic person and he avoided publicity. He died very young after making two excellent albums. So he has become quite a mystic character.

The album has a very naive and fairytale-like tone. Acoustic guitars are the main instrument here, some clean electric guitars here and there played by Jukka Tolonen, bongos. Very peaceful music.

This is an important part of Finnish music but I don´t think there´s much for others here. Or I don´t know...you might as well enjoy this. I do.

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