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ESA KOTILAINEN

Progressive Electronic • Finland


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Esa Kotilainen biography
Esa KOTILAINEN is one of the most notorious keyboard players coming from Finland. He notably made his reputation due to his envolvement in the bands WIGWAM and TASAVALLAN PRESIDENTTI. In 1977 he recorded a solo album for pure electronics. In itself the album alternates complex plastic electro-acoustic sounds with kosmische mantric synth waves. A remarkable effort which also includes subtle cryptical/mystical flavours and metaphors.

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Soiva TehdasSoiva Tehdas
Import
Presence Records
Audio CD$19.99
PerhosniittyPerhosniitty
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Presence Records
Audio CD$19.99

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ESA KOTILAINEN discography


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

3.96 | 4 ratings
Ajatuslapsi
1977
0.00 | 0 ratings
Aamu Joella
1995
0.00 | 0 ratings
Turpeisen Baari
2003
4.00 | 1 ratings
Turquoise Planet
2009
0.00 | 0 ratings
-51°C
2010
0.00 | 0 ratings
Soiva tehdas
2011
2.10 | 2 ratings
Perhosniitty
2013

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ESA KOTILAINEN Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Turquoise Planet by KOTILAINEN,  ESA album cover Studio Album, 2009
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Turquoise Planet
Esa Kotilainen Progressive Electronic

Review by Anon-E-Mouse

— First review of this album —
4 stars Kotilainen is a veteran of the Finnish Prog music scene, whose contribution to many of credible artist's works span about four decades. A solo artist, he is much less adored and perhaps there is a reason for that.

Embracing rather minimalist approaches as a one-man band, he is prone to be held hostage to rather mid-Winter Arctic images, "The Big Sleep" I was fortunate to experience a number of times visiting friends living beyond the Arctic Circle. At =40C when the snow appears pink - for lack of Sun and your nose is on the verge of breaking off, observing the scene from a relative comfort of a "shelter" is an experience to remember. The stillness of that "Big Sleep".

It seems that Kotilainen had become captive of that scenery expressed in musical terms where one album would have been sufficient before boredom would set in.

This album is a pleasant relief, invoking early Tangerine Dream approaches of "cosmic" nature and fans of that period may find it interesting - albeit delivered by a single artist, lacking team effort. 3.5 rounded up.

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 Perhosniitty by KOTILAINEN,  ESA album cover Studio Album, 2013
2.10 | 2 ratings

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Perhosniitty
Esa Kotilainen Progressive Electronic

Review by Matti
Collaborator Neo-Prog Team

2 stars Sigh... Esa Kotilainen has a unique history as one of the leading keyboard players in the Finnish popular music scene (he has played on dozens of artists' albums from Wigwam to Hector), and as a solo artist he's best remembered for his debut album Ajatuslapsi, which is very esoteric electronic progressive music. I haven't heard his later recordings which, if I understood, are also more or less experimental, inspired by factories or deep frost or whatever. Now, what do I get with his latest offering? Instrumental easy-listening music with a steady rhythm, starring an accordeon! Rather similar to some of Anssi Tikanmäki's music, but less powerful in imagery or melodies.

Tracks like 'Fossiili' are even irritating and monotonous. I wonder if an average accordeon-music listener will enjoy this either, because apart from a couple of nostalgic tunes, it's not exactly typical in that field at all. That is, not very danceable (perhaps a virtue in our context), but nothing special instead either, to grab the listener. Some close-to-the-nature kind of a person could use this album as a background music to some creative doings. Only few tracks are more enjoyable; 'Vuono Sininen' (Fjord Blue) has a nice laid back, by-the-lakeside atmosphere, and drummer Anssi Nykänen's contribution sounds good before the percussion-free, meditative section that gets a bit boring.

Here and there one hears interesting originality in handling the accordeon and adding some light moog or mellotron, but the compositions are rather half-baked. Overall, simply forget this one, even if you're among the seemingly few PA members who have found Kotilainen's former works fascinating.

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 Ajatuslapsi by KOTILAINEN,  ESA album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.96 | 4 ratings

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Ajatuslapsi
Esa Kotilainen Progressive Electronic

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

4 stars Spiritual Labyrinth

Music can be such a powerful thing. It can literally sweep you off your feet and catapult you into the most treacherous and bewildering of places, where you struggle to find heads or tales to anything. Reality suddenly looses all meaning - and meaning itself becomes something like a little red bunny speaking in Japanese with a voice like the roaring exhaust pipe of a racing red Yahama motorcycle. BRRRWWWUUOOOOWWWWNNN BRRUUOOOWWWWN - why don't you.

Take this record for instance: No matter how many times I listen to it, I fluctuate between zig zagging down to the great pyramid of Giza - roaming the endless yellow corridors of sand and whirling dust, and then swooping effortlessly up in a marvellous futuristic elevator, that kindly scoops me up like a contourless gulp of lard only to wuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuiiiiiiiiiiiiiiihhh straight up in the everlasting black infinity of space. I am completely helpless of course - there's really nothing much I can do about it, but that's the thing: it feels good to feel helpless and insignificant compared to the mighty empire of surrounding entities such as nature, space and beyond. Music can, if you're lucky, demonstrate this powerful and humbling experience, which both makes you tiny and frail, but also significantly larger than yourself and your doings - pointing you towards a greater understanding of all these red lines running through our solar system - connecting dots, people, incidents, stars and matter. I feel this bond intensely whenever I listen to Ajatuslapsi.

I've been thinking about the next natural thing to write about - in this my small but invigorating Finnish review excursion, and that is to highlight a shining beacon of electronic sound, that had a huge part in both Tasavallan Presidentti and Wigwam's success. Esa Kotilainen is the man's name, and he additionally played on Jukka Tolonen's solo albums, as well as cementing himself as one of the first Finnish musicians to master the terrifying robotic scope of the moog. It's not like you can hear where this man started - that he openly transcribed his input from those early days within Wigwam and TP, no no. Instead of capitalising on efforts of past and producing a melodic jazz rock dominated affair with heaps of swirling organs, he opted for a difficult to digest, labyrinthian, obscure and introvert sound to cover his debut album in.

I'll go ahead and start my musical translation by saying that this probably isn't for everyone, but to call it avant-garde is also kind of missing the plot by a considerable amount. The first cut Unilassa should be the perfect example of this methinks. It starts things off with some harmonic swirling organ winds that in time are transformed into a tiny whispering note, that now becomes the very ground on which a synthesizer commences its melodic four noted serenade. Things turn for the electronic and move towards the early Berlin School of sound, to which I'm reminded of both Tangerine Dream's Ricochet and Schulze's tantalizing Timewind. These are however only small hints - tiny fragmented scents of Germany, for what this piece does next is beyond any sort of musical comparison. It's here you get delivered the giant pyramid of Giza in all of its splendour - shining like a glistening sand ruby. The music incorporates a few Arabian scaled notes into the proceedings - done with such an impeccable touch that it almost transforms into an electronic styled fugue from the outskirts of the Egyptian desert. You then get snippets of organ and wonderfully shimmering string electronics that sound like the reflection of a white sun in a streaming river. Ending back in the north the piece shape-shifts and gives off a distinct folk vibe with the add on of the accordion and a Finnish instrument called a Kantale. It's beautiful and disturbing all at once. It deceives you in a good and entrancing way, and I personally feel as if I could sleep for a week after this sonic maze comes to an end.

The next couple of pieces all display Esa's imaginative take on music. He deliberately seeks the difficult and loose in music, but then again it never sounds forced or 'academic'. He knows what he wants, even if the music has a way of sneaking up on him in slow multiplying masquerades. I guess you could call this sonic shadow-boxing. He opens himself up to these panoramic inclinations and then develops the musical image en route. It sure sounds like that anyways...

Another little thing which I personally think is downright brilliant, is the manner in which bird tweets are glued onto the second track. They suddenly fill up the musical space like a huge natural being - only to be replaced by black ominous synth burps plodding, fluttering - sounding like a regular robot out of Mordor. Again, it shows a musician unafraid to jump from one extreme to the other, and in doing so he actually shapes the thing that makes him stand out from a hundred late 70s electronic artists.

All of these pieces could be considered as meditations on themes, orchestrated bewilderings - loosing yourself on purpose. To launch oneself into unknown sonic pastures with but a mad Finnish synthesizer guru at the helm. I've done it several times, and I would employ you to do the same, if you indeed are looking for that ever fleeting spiritual labyrinth made up of sound and images emerging from behind your eyelids. 4.5 stars with the chance of 5 in the near future.

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