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Haikara - Haikara CD (album) cover




Eclectic Prog

4.24 | 148 ratings

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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.

Guldbamsen | 5/5 |


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