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UTOPIANISTI

Jazz Rock/Fusion • Finland


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Utopianisti biography
Utopianisti is Finnish composer / multi-instrumentalist / producer Markus Pajakkala's brainchild, started in 2010. It's a studio project where the line-up changes for every song. Pajakkala plays the drums, woodwinds and some keyboards himself and composes and engineers all the material. Guest musicians are plenty, from different genres - classically trained, jazz, folk and rock musicians. The style is mostly instrumental, energetic jazz-rock / eclectic prog with occasional leaps towards Balkan gypsy music, tango, avant-garde, latin or even operatic metal. Pajakkala is also a key member in the band Poutatorvi.

Markus Pajakkala 2013

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4.00 | 2 ratings
Utopianisti
2011
4.00 | 1 ratings
Utopianisti II
2013

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UTOPIANISTI Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Utopianisti II by UTOPIANISTI album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.00 | 1 ratings

BUY
Utopianisti II
Utopianisti Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Eetu Pellonpää
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

— First review of this album —
4 stars Utopianisti's second artifact for the music markets resonates vibrantly, featuring a vast concentration of other local musicians, reaching nearly strength of thirty talented players (!). With the vivid bombast of the record´s personal style, having elements from jazz fusion, prog rock standards, folk music leanings of different cultures, avant-gardist solutions and even some heavy metal licks, I believe the owl, rabbit and fox presented on the cover could blow out the Musicians of Bremen to some other fable. Frank Zappa has been mentioned as a source of inspiration for the album: an artist certainly being an idol for Mr. Pajakkala, as there was even a song credited for his honor on Utopianisti's debut album. However this fascination has not been a motive to mimic the style of Frank, but to create something own with similar courage and intelligence as the mentioned innovator.

The album seems to be segmented in three phases, starting with Pajakkala's solo own compositions. Begin is rough; A song inspired by messy diaper change oppresses the listener immediately with trumpeting stampede, associating for me due their tonal resemblances to Stabath Akish's rampage, and having hints of Kauhukakara's cavalcade of different animal forms expressed through logical sonic idioms. Some heavier guitar driven sequences blend in pleasantly to the horn dominated starting motives, and turn the feeling from cinemascopic feelings towards new territories. The second track brought me some memories of Höyry-Kone's mixture of sung classical music and heavy prog or Zappa's vocal classical sequences from the film "200 Motels". This song also features two uprising operatic singers, soprano Suvi Väyrynen and baritone Waltteri Torikka. The third song "Pohjola" ("Northern Land") is a mournful and beautiful lamentation for the late Pekka Pohjola. "Tango Succubus pt.2" reminds then again the more disorderly second composition of the record, but the fifth track "The Forest of The Bald Witch" rose for me as one of the highlights of the album, having some Jethro Tull reminding motives, fine guitar solo explorations and Mellotron carpets decorating the black woods of the hair-lost conjurer. The organic sounds and compositional varieties are first countered with the electronic minimalism of "Bisphenol A", which later succeeds to annihilate the presumptions from the song by discarding the electronic pulsing with a electric guitar power and weird tricks from the arrangement level. "Kynttilöitäkin on vain yksi" rejoices in acoustical, almost klezmer oriented moods, and the final track on this first phase of the movie...no album sums up the heavy metal jazzcore fusion adventures, and passes the microphone to Finland's own Captain Beefheart, Mr. Pharaoh Pirttikangas.

The second phase of the record locates at the JJ Studio in Tampere, being recorded with group Black Motor and pianist Jon Ballantyne. Possibly the setup forced the studio session master Pajakkala on direr proposition with levels of dominance and risk-taking impulsiveness on the takes captured with live playing method. This area oscillates with more relaxed feelings and the already familiar aggressive gonzo-attacks than the carefully recorded studio takes; "The Sundays of Love and Peace", "Too Many Eyeholes" and "Derelicts of Space" linger on the bar stand with serene jazzy lounging, only "Mechanoid Makeout Music" blends more the avant elements familiar from the record's first phase. I would recommend the featured group Black Motor to anybody interested in fine free jazz, the group has reached very convincing merits at Finland through several releases, collaborative projects and awards.

The third phase of this trip is a long improvisation mash-up, featuring some interesting raga-rock contemplations from Mr. Mentu known also from the local group Aalto. Ca. ten minutes long afterquake sums up the two first phases of this album, and leave an appetite for later listens. Personally the softer pieces from the middle of the record were first easier to digest, but having history of rejoicing capabilities of late Mr. Zappa's chaotic productions, the more vivid rootin' tootins' opened up after some listening.

So according my own judgment, this CD is a warm-hearted and personal recording from talented musicians, meeting certainly the standards of global interest from direct local activity and presence is on the edge of your current awareness. Also the goal of the composer of doing music by avoiding some conventional rules of music and thus reaching new angles to sonic arts is in my opinion reached. What matters more to me is a hope of honesty on art creation process, a spiritual factor I believe shimmering from this album. During year 2014 there should be also a line-up formed from this collective ready to perform on concert venues, and it would be delightful to see them doing their thing on a stage.

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 Utopianisti by UTOPIANISTI album cover Studio Album, 2011
4.00 | 2 ratings

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Utopianisti
Utopianisti Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Matti
Collaborator Neo-Prog Team

4 stars Utopianisti is a Finnish project of multi-instrumentalist Markus Pajakkala; the second album has just been released (I'll review that later). This debut is amazing and I hope that Utopianisti gets the international recognition it deeply deserves. Avestin's review is very good and I fully agree upon its each comment. Indeed this is music that gets your body shake and makes you feel happy, at least if you listen to it in a suitable mood. Very far from being dead serious! The lively, joyful spirit catches the listener too. Pajakkala is rather young chap but what a talent he is! He plays drums and other percussion, several saxes, flute and keyboards (plus sings on one track) and he's responsible of the arrangements that often approach the big band. All the music is composed by him. Since Utopianisti is not a touring band, he has recruited all the guests for the needs of each individual track, just like Robert Wyatt did after his body injury. The old ace Anssi Tikanmäki has co- produced the album.

'Plutonium Fist' (and its half-minute distorted intro 'Alkusoitto') is like a high speed twist with the emphasis on drums and saxophone. 'Grain de l'âme' is one of my favourites, it shows Pajakkala's versatility as composer and arranger, as it features also more delicate parts starring flute and keyboards. 'Avaruuden shamaanit' (The Space Shamans) is a funky tune built on a baritone saxophone phrase. I find it a bit boring in its repetitiveness.

'Waltz for FZ' (meaning Frank Zappa, naturally) is another highlight. A melodic, lively and richly arranged composition mostly in danceable mid-tempo. I hear some Pekka Pohjola influence. J-P Jääskeläinen has a little vibraphone solo, and on the next short track 'Castro Brothers' he gets the lead on marimba and xylophone.

'Kärry' (Carriage) belongs to my least favourites; I'm not very fond of the funk flavour present on many tracks. 'Markus-sedän letkeämpi klezmer' (The More Easy-Going Klezmer of Uncle Markus; by the way Markus-setä was a legendary person who made radio programmes for children many decades ago) is a fast and playful track with many surprises along the way, such as a sitar/flute dialogue. 'Bordeaux' brings some old-fashioned continental elegance, featuring Markus Luomala on accordion.

'Hopeinen kyy' (Silver Viper; a wordplay on 'Hopeinen kuu', a classic Finnish schlager of Italian origin) is again fast, almost frenzy. A wonderful flute part, perhaps a nod to Ian Anderson? 'Sull on mies joka planeetalla' (You Have a Man on Every Planet) is the only vocal-song, let's say it's a hilarious, swinging rock'n'roll retro-schlager. 'Tuonelan lautturi' (The Ferryman of ... well, Tuonela is the land of death in Kalevala) is yet another funky track with the baritone sax taking lead, but it has also a spooky synth.

Time will tell how this music will taste after becoming more familiar. Either one learns to appreciate all its details even more, or the happiness so strongly present on the first listening will lose some of its spark. Anyway, if you're looking for Zappa-influenced upbeat jazz-rock, check this one out immediately!

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 Utopianisti by UTOPIANISTI album cover Studio Album, 2011
4.00 | 2 ratings

BUY
Utopianisti
Utopianisti Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by avestin
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Finland is a cold place. It's also dark for a lengthy period of time. In fact, that's exactly the kind of place I'd like to live in! With a depressive atmosphere and gloomy music being played by the local bands and musicians. But then you have folks like Markus Pajakkala, who come and ruin the whole thing for you? They play this upbeat and energetic music that makes you want to move your head and feet, music that you can't help but have your senses shaken and your spirit lifted upon listening to it. Damn it, I'm trying to be depressed here! Those young kids and their damned upbeat and excellent music!

Ok, Let me start again. Allow me to ask you a few questions before proceeding: Have you ever wanted to hear a heavy and eclectic Big Band performance? Are you curious as to the possibilities of having a large ensemble of musicians, practically an small orchestra, playing a mix made up of blues, jazz and rock with a little metal-ic leanings as well as some electronic effects added for good measure? Do you like the sort of music from Frank Zappa, Alamaailman Vasarat, Mr. Bungle, miRthkon, Zorn's Dreamers, et al.? Is the notion of an instrumental extravaganza beating your ears constantly, excite you? If you've answered Yes to any of the above, you might want to give Utopianisti a listen!

Markus Pajakkala has assembled a full orchestra around him and recorded a fabulous diverse album. By now you get the idea of what kind of sounds and styles to expect; while you can hear influences or similarities to the afore mentioned groups and musicians, Markus has done a stellar job at bringing his vision to life and creating fresh and uplifting music. Indeed, there is much to rejoice for those who love their music being a mix of various styles, but done effectively and in good measure. Moreover, if you like your music to be engaging, energetic and at fast pace, this would make you happy as well. I particularly liked the more exotic sounding tracks, like Kärry, with fantastic percussion and groovy beat and rhythm. Another magnificent track was Markus-sedän letkeämpi klezmer with it's various styles interjectd within the composition ? this track alone shows the diversity of Markus and his talent at combining various approaches into a wholesome piece. Markus also reaches out for a French flavour in the cool track Bordeaux, with the requisite accordion and the sentimental string instruments. But if you want a more representative piece of the album, try the second aptly named track, Plutonium Fist. As the name suggests, it is a punch to the face with its ferocious and aggressive beat and tune. This radioactive track holds together touches of blues, jazz-rock and a little metal-ish touch. Or you could go for some gypsy and folk inspired powerful pieces like Hopeinen kyy with extraordinary drumming and percussion that underlie demented and superb violin playing. I wrote that this is an instrumental album but there is one sung piece, Sull'on mies joka planeetalla, in which Markus sings and he does so well. A bluesy and hard rock piece, but with the brass instruments playing along, this sounds so much richer than an average blues/rock song. I also need to mention the great guitar solo played in the middle of the song.

It is a dense and heavy album, due to the massive sound of the orchestra and the nature of the music. I felt exhausted after each listen, but then I always wanted more of it immediately after.

I'm so happy to have found an album, so early in 2011, that made me go "Wow!! This is incredible". This is an early contender for the top 2011 albums list. To be played loud!

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Thanks to evolver for the artist addition. and to Eetu Pellonpää for the last updates

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